Monjayaki is commonly referred to as the Tokyo version of okonomiyaki, but it’s so unlike okonomiyaki that it really should be considered a separate category of Japanese food. Both monjayaki and okonomiyaki are grilled on a teppan (iron plate), but monjayaki has a completely different texture, made with a liquidy monjayaki batter that spreads quickly across the surface of the teppan, without the stability and structure of the typical Osaka okonomiyaki. Often, monjayaki is eaten partially cooked, right from the steaming hot teppan with an adorably tiny metal spatula. At restaurants, you can griddle up some monjayaki to share with all! Monjayaki-making is a fun communal activity for groups, as the molten hot monjayaki needs to be eaten quickly before it burns. It’s like the food version of “The Floor is Lava” game, but instead of avoiding the lava, you embrace it.
The cooking technique to make monjayaki is a little particular, so it’s best to go with someone who is well practiced in monjayaki-making or to ask the server for help. The basic steps include (1) grilling up the ingredients, (2) making the ingredients into a donut shape, (3) pouring the liquidy batter into the center and letting it cook, then (4) adding toppings and grilling until the edges have set and the center is still gooey. Then, whip out your tiny spatulas and dig in! There are a variety of monjayaki flavors and mix-ins, from cheese to pollock roe to shrimp. But don’t just read about it, join one of the food experiences below and practice grilling up the perfect monjayaki for yourself!