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Monjyayaki in Tsukishima

On my first visit to Tokyo we visited Tsukishima district famous for monjyayaki – it is so famous that there is a street filled with stores that serve this famous kanto specialty. So what exactly is monjyayaki or monjya as it is popularly known.

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Monjyayaki or simple monjya is a type of Japanese pancake made from various ingredients cooked on a hot teppan grill. Monjyayaki they say started out as food served as a snack for children which originates from the Kanto region. It closely resembles an okonomiyaki which is from the kansai region but has a softer or has a much runnier texture when eaten. Another notable difference between okonomiyaki and monjyayaki is the manner at which they are eaten – the monjya is eaten right off the grill with a spatula. Monjya unlike okonomiyaki is a social meal – just like yakiniku where diners cook the dish at their table while enjoying a conversation with friends. The similarity of both dish reside on the most common ingredients used to prepare it – cabbage, eggs and a flour based batter. Even some of the toppings added to these two pancakes are very similar.

A typical monjyayaki restaurant table would have teppan grill and condiments on the side of the table which you could add to your monjyayaki. When our orders arrived being that it was our first time, the waiter was nice enough to demonstrate for us how to cook a monjya. Below are the steps on how to cook a monjya.

How to cook monjya.

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Monjya – ready for cooking

  1. Heat the teppan/grill then add oil.
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    Grill – pour oil

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    Spread the oil evenly on the teppan grill using the spatula

  2. Add the dry ingredients only. Leave the batter mix in the bowl. Stir fry till dry ingredients are half cooked. Well actually you sort of mix and chop the dry ingredients.
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    Pour dry ingredients

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    Mix, Mince and fry dry ingredients

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    Dry ingredients repeatedly mixed and minced

  3. When the dry ingredients are minced and almost cooked, create a crater or circle with it. Then pour inside the circle the batter mix. (Make sure the batter mix does not spill over the circle)
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    create a doughnut shape out of the dry ingredients and pour the batter

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    be careful not to spill the batter

  4. Let the batter simmer till it is a bit thick. When the batter has thicken, mix it well with the dry ingredients. Then let it cook for a few more minutes.
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    Let the batter simmer

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    Once batter has thickened, mix

  5. Once the batter has slightly a less runny texture and a crust has slightly formed at its base, the monjyayaki is ready.
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    Eaten right off the grill using a small spatula

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    You can also add toppings to your monjya

  6. Once you have completely consumed your first serving of monjya. Clean the teppan grill by scrapping off the batter that has stick into the grill with the spatula. Then repeat the steps.

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    Scrape off the left over batter

Monjya for me was not really a stand out from the other Japanese famous foods. But if you happen to be in Tokyo, I strongly recommend you try this one of a kind cooking/eating experience. It might not look as appetizing but it is not that bad as it looks. I guess the best part about monjya is the experience – the chance to cook something fun with your friends coupled with great stories about your travels.

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