Monja; One of Tokyo’s Local Food
Have you heard of monja, which is similar to okonomiyaki? It is local food of Tokyo especially east part, and said that okonomiyaki’s roots. It used to be snack for children and served at mom and pop candy stores. However, since it has been well known for tourists, its portion has been getting larger and larger, and it becomes snack for adults. It is also said that because of mom and pop candy stores’ decrease. The basic ingredients are cabbage, calamari, shrimp, dried sea lettuce powder, tenkasu (small pieces of deep fried tempura dough), and batter with broth, but mochi, mentaiko (salted cod roe), etc. are also popular these days.
Machiya Style – The Origin
Monja is said that originally from Machiya district of Arakawa-ku and old monja restaurants also gather there. Monja is served before fried like above because it is basically cooked by customers. Mix them well and spread onto the greased griddle. When the dough become caramelized, tear and eat it by hagashi (small spatula).
Asakusa Style – The Best Way of Tasting Broth
Tokyo’s one of popular destination Asakusa also has many monja restaurants. Asakusa style has unique feature; to make caramelized batter called “monja senbei”. After spread ingredients, draw them except batter at either end of the griddle and wait until the batter is caramelized. That is why it is called senbei. After caramelized, peel it and eat while ingredients are being cooked. When you finish eating the senbei, your monja would be ready to eat. If you want some dessert, try ankomaki or anzumaki, red bean paste / candied apricot wrapped by batter. It will be cooked by staff at your griddle, or you may cook by yourself.
Tsukishima Style – Visitors Friendly
Tsukishima district of Chuo-ku is well known for “monja town”. Shopping district called “Monja Street” has also many monja restaurants, and there are bunch of tourists from both within and outside Japan. The feature is “dote” (bank); put only ingredients onto the griddle like donuts (below), and pour batter onto the center. Because the portion became larger for tourists in Tsukishima, it is said that people started making dote to save space of the griddle. After batter is simmered, level dote and mix well, then spread to eat. These 3 styles have almost same ingredients and taste, but process is quite different. Moreover, unique flavor appears like curry, pizza, kimchee, etc. Monja would be rare food which can enjoy both cooking process and taste.