For our last dinner in Kyoto, P wanted to go back to this restaurant, which we saw the night before when we walked around Gion with Yashi and the other IchiEnSou guests. It was a restaurant serving a variation of okonomiyaki that had a humorous statue of a boy running with a bag of the restaurant’s specialty, while a dog chases him and tugs down his pants (see photo below).
An okonomiyaki is a Japanese pancake that roughly translates to “what you like” (okonomi) and “grilled” or “cooked”(yaki ). As such, it can contain a variety of seafood, meat, and different vegetables and cooked in a teppan or hot plate. In the Gion restaurant, the okonomiyaki it serves is called Issen Yoshoku (which is also the name of the restaurant)—yoshoku for ‘Western food’ (Western because the batter used is made of wheat flour) and sen because it used to cost about 1 US cent.
The cooks preparing the mounds of Issen Yoshoku face the street, which attracts many onlookers, most if not all of whom were tourists who had whipped out their cameras (just like us). The dish is more crepe than pancake and thinly sliced pork, tiny shrimps, a lot of chopped scallions, and egg are among the ingredients that get tossed in before it’s folded in half and served.
Intrigued, we went inside and were taken to a table where a female mannequin in a kimono was seated. Oh-kay. Looking around, most tables had kimono-clad female mannequins accompanying the diners. I had seen this type of restaurant (or it could have been this very restaurant) in a news segment on Japan years back. Seated mannequins on every table to keep diners company. (I researched about it later on in Kyotofoodie.com and found out it’s the humorous ploy of the owner to lure drunken men to the restaurant when they see the seeming abundance of attractive single women seated inside from the street.) Oh, Japan. How do you think of these things (and go about actually doing them)? 🙂
We ordered two beers and two Issen Yoshoku, one for me and P. (Our lady companion was not having anything. Cheap date.) I wasn’t too crazy about this okonomiyaki (just too many scallions for my taste), but my husband liked it and even finished my share. Still, it was a fun dining experience and if you’re in the Gion area, do go inside and buy your lady friend a drink.