Sunday, August 07, 2005

Japanese Pizza! Haru Ulala's Okonomiyaki

As much as people are closed-minded about trying other culture's cuisines, there sure seem to be as many similarities between the foods of different cultures as there are differences. I've met Mexican people that don't eat Chinese food 'cause it's strange and vice versa. My friend's Korean mom won't eat Italian food, why? Not because she's ever had it, but just because. But have any of these people ever stopped to notice the common denominators in our cooking? There's the obvious, like the fact that most everyone uses rice and noodles. And there's the not-so-obvious dishes that strike an uncanny resemblance to each other. Like the Chinese "joong," sticky rice and meat wrapped in a lotus leaf, which resembles the Mexican tamal--the same concept, only made with masa and wrapped in either a corn husk or banana leaf. Also similar are Puerto Rican pasteles, consisting of mashed plantains and bananas wrapped in a banana leaf. Different, but the same, and yet different enough for people to be closed minded!

I thought of all this when I ordered okonomiyaki for the first time tonight at
Izakaya Haru Ulala because they had a little quip on the menu board advertising it as "Japanese Pizza!" Does it make okonomiyaki more appealing? No, not for me, only because I already knew what okonomiyaki is and have been wanting to try it for a while now. But to anyone else less open-minded, maybe a Japanese pizza is a little less intimidating. Kinda like: "If you can eat Dominos, you can eat this too!"


Can't get this at Domino's!

I think it may have been because Haru Ulala was a bit short staffed because service seemed slower than usual, but my okonomiyaki certainly took just as long as a pizza to cook. About 30 minutes, and my mixed "pie" of squid, shrimp and chicken finally came to the table. It was round like a pizza and it was sliced like a pizza. But boy, this thing ain't no pizza. Shavings of dried bonito adorned the top, writhing and squirming with the heat like they were alive. Underneath, sprinklings of dried seaweed were scattered between squirts of mayonnaise and a slathering of okonomiyaki sauce over a piping hot battered filling of squid, shrimp, chicken and cabbage, grilled to a golden brown perfection on the bottom. Delicious.



If anything, it's really more comparable to an Italian fritatta or the Korean seafood pancake Hae Mul Pa Jeon. But I bet if I tried to sell this okonomiyaki as such (it's a Japanese fritatta/it's a Japanese Hae Mul Pa Jeon!) to try to lure in more people like Haru Ulala did with the pizza reference, they still wouldn't bite. People are people and will always have their preconceived notions no matter how hard we try. Oh well, just leaves more food for me.

Izakaya Haru Ulala (for Japanese pizza and more!)
368 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-0977
www.haruulala.com

9 comments:

Kirk said...

mmmm okonomiyaki, such goodness. But you're right, Japanese Pizza reahes the masses better than Japanese Fritatta, I guess. I love okonomiyaki, except when they try to put mayo on it...I guess it's just a personal bias. But when it's good - I'd actually try the delici-yoso dance!

BoLA said...

Yum! I had my first in Osaka, Japan with my grandma and it was delicious! It reminded me of a cross between a pancake and an omelet.

Daily Gluttony said...

Kirk, you got me rolling with that delici-yoso dance!!! I'm not sure I can say this one was THAT good (since it was the only one I've ever had) but gimmee a chance to try a few more from other places and we'll see if this one deserves the honor!

Kris, I'm sure that the okonomiyaki I had has nothing on the okonomiyaki in Osaka!! Sounds awesome--awesome enough to deserve a delici-yoso dance!

elmomonster said...

Pam,

You beat me to it! Goshdarn you!!! ;-)

I had okonomiyaki for the first time a week ago but have been putting off writing about it since I had no pictures.

I LOVED IT! It's like you said, it's far from the pizza comparison.

Daily Gluttony said...

Elmo,

Neener, neener, nee-ner, I beat you! ha ha just kidding! Isn't okonomiyaki great? Well hurry up and get that post up there!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

that looks delicious. i love anything with bonito flakes on top. it looks so dope when it shrivels up in heat. how much was that dish?

Daily Gluttony said...

Dylan,

It was about 9 bucks for the mixed okonomiyaki (you get to pick 3 meats)--you can also pick a single meat for about 7 bucks. It's worth every penny...very filling too!

marissa said...

I also had my first okonomiyaki in osaka - delicious. and speaking of similarities, I'm always struck by how just about every ethnic cuisine has some sort of dumpling - chinese, polish, japanese, italian, russian, etc. there's just something inherently comforting about stuffed pasta/noodles.

great blog, btw. have been reading it for months now.

Daily Gluttony said...

Marissa,

Yup, you're SO right about the dumpling too!

And thanks, I'm glad you like the blog! =)