Great Eats, The Tummy Train TV

Spend a cook-it-yourself Valentine’s at Dohtonbori [VIDEO]

There are three things you need to know before deciding to eat at Dohtonbori: First is you have to be ready to fall in line. Secondly, it’s inevitable that you will exit the restaurant smelling heavily like food. Lastly, you’d better be prepared to get your okonomiyaki fix, because this place will give that to you in a multitude of ways. This is also a pretty unique place to take your dates out for Valentine’s, in my opinion. It could also be an awesome place for a barkada or girls’ night out. 😉

As one of the new kids on the block, it’s rather normal that a lot of people are looking to dine here. Even queuing up at an early dinner hour of 6, we had to wait in line for a bit. I think Dohtonbori SM North EDSA is the first restaurant I’ve come across in Manila that tries to specialize on the Japanese okonomiyaki; and it gets cooked right in front of you too, whether by yourself or their staff.

Inside, the restaurant successfully captures as authentic a Japanese atmosphere as it can. The moment you walk through the hanging noren (暖簾) or Japanese curtains at the entrance, lively staff they call “buddies” greet you in a chorus of ‘PONPOKOPON!’ between flitting from table to table with trays of orders. Up on the wooden beams hang red Japanese lanterns; and on the walls are all sorts of Japanese calligraphy and painted posters that give the place a very retro vibe. (I have to admit it made me miss Japan…)

I don’t normally take videos of the local places I dine in, but I though it was fitting in this case to do just that since this restaurant banks a lot on hands-on customer participation rather than just the experience of eating. This is NOT sponsored in ANY way, just to be clear. I decided to film about Dohtonbori just because I think restaurants like these are interesting. I honestly had a fun time cooking okonomiyaki, as well as watching our orders come together in front of our eyes.

You’ll have to excuse some awkward angles and shakiness though as the lens I brought with me isn’t the best for tight spaces, but I hope the video gives a general idea about Dohtonbori SM North EDSA nonetheless.

All right, now let’s get into more detail about the food, and my general experience eating here!

This restaurant specializes on okonomiyaki, which if you don’t know, is basically a Japanese grilled pancake. It is derived from the Japanese word ‘okonomi’, which roughly means ‘whatever you like’, so I guess it’s fair to say that the toppings you can add to make your own okonomiyaki is limited only by your imaginations.

On the menu are the prepared okonomiyaki choices at Dohtonbori, and immediately my attention is captured by the photo with the kimchi haha!

But then I turn the page and I see the very thing I have been craving for mooooonths already– Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki! YASSSS. I made sure we got an order of that!

As soon as we were seated, we placed our orders and it didn’t take so long for our uncooked ingredients to come out. The appetizers were the first to arrive, of course. I find that we’re fond of ordering Gyoza (Php 120) when we eat in Japanese restaurants. I do know how to cook gyoza at home so I know that you have to let the dumplings bubble away in a bit of water. I like that they threw a piece of ice in there then covered it up to seal all the steam in. The outcome was some good old-fashioned gyoza with that signature crispy bottom!

Another dish we ordered to share is the Grilled Salmon Chanchan (Php 380). The chanchan yaki is actually a Hokkaido specialty, where fresh fish or seafood is cooked with veggies such as onion, cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots. It’s flavoured with a miso-based sauce, and here you see it wrapped in aluminum foil to keep all those juices in as it cooks on the grill.

I love how soft and juicy the salmon is once it’s done cooking. The salmon and the veggies absorb that miso sauce really well!

We also had some Steamed Vegetables (Php 240), steamed on an iron plate with a bit of water, as you might have seen in the video above. It’s basically fresh sweet veggies you dip in some flavoured mayonnaise.

I forgot to take pictures of the latter pages of the menu, but you’ll probably be happy to know that not everything in this restaurant requires you to cook before you eat. You can actually order rice dishes and ramen that will come readily prepared and piping hot to your table. My brother– who eats like three people put together– ordered some classic breaded goodness in Katsudon (Php 260). That looks FABULOUS and tender and juicy. Yummm.

And now we get to the main attraction of the restaurant, which is okonomiyaki! On each table, there is a rack of sauces and flavourings already set up for okonomiyaki-cooking. The buddy assigned to you will walk you through the procedure if you’re feeling brave enough to engage in the actual cooking, so don’t you worry about anything and just do it!

We ordered two kinds of basic okonomiyaki, and I got to make the other one. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making okonomiyaki at home but for some reason I haven’t gotten around to it. This was a decent introduction though.

Your ordered okonomiyaki toppings will come in large mixing bowls like these, and because they’re arranged so carefully you can clearly see what will be in the okonomiyaki once it’s cooked. We ordered a Mixed Okonomiyaki (Php 290), which is loaded with squid, pork, shrimp, and octopus, plus tempura Bits, red pickled ginger, spring onions, and cabbage.

The other is the Seoul Style Okonomiyaki (Php 240), which has kimchi, pork, tempura bits, red pickled ginger, spring onions, and cabbage.

The batter is hiding underneath so you have to vigorously mix everything up until you see small bubbles appear in the batter. It takes a little bit of time to cook these because you still have to flip it a couple of times to make sure it’s cooked all the way through.

Then just add mayo and some nori and bonito!

I have to say that in terms of taste, these definitely taste authentic. However I found that the Mixed Okonomiyaki is much more flavourful thanks to the toppings. The Seoul style one could probably use some smaller chopped kimchi so that it gets well distributed to the whole round of okonomiyaki. I was lucky enough to get some kimchi on my portion, but some of my brothers got none!

I forgot to take photos of the Dohtonbori Pizza (Php 340) so I’ll just quickly talk about this one. It’s basically a sort of okonomiyaki as well, but instead of having a soft pancake as the base, the batter yields a harder and thicker “pizza” crust. You start by placing some strips of pork on the base, and once that’s cooked, you slather it with Okonomiyaki Sauce, then add some mixed cheese and cabbage as well. I love how the egg is nestled inside the cabbage. To cook it fully, you cover it up and wait for the egg to cook to your liking.

Moving on we ordered some Pork Yakisoba (Php 260), a stir-fried noodle dish of pork, carrots and bell pepper, cloud ear mushroom, with red pickled ginger, bean sprouts, and cabbage. There’s not much to say about it other than it’s a classic Japanese dish and you probably wouldn’t go wrong ordering it in a Japanese restaurant.

The yakisoba was entirely cooked by our buddy, and I have to admire all the preparation that went in to make sure each dish ends up seasoned quite nicely. The buddies are trained to cook of course, but I feel like in here, even a newbie cook can take over and end up whipping up something fantastic!

The last dish is my favourite, and as I mentioned, has been a craving of mine for a while now: Hiroshima-yaki (Php 390), aka an okonomiyaki with layers of eggs and veggies and soba and deliciousness! The moment the ingredients were set down on our table I was already super excited for this! I can’t even begin to describe how high my expectations were.

I was a little sad that the base of the okonomiyaki got kind of ruined as it was being flipped over. This is a bit of a complicated okonomiyaki as you have to stack it up, so the only participation we had here was cooking the soba part.

My goodness, this was scrumptious to the last bite! All those flavours really come out to play from the saucy soba to the veggies, the okonomiyaki base up to the egg with mayonnaise. And that tangy okonomiyaki sauce? SO GOOD. It was unfortunate that I could only eat a small portion at this point because I was already full, but at least now I know where to go when a craving strikes!

So we had a ton of okonomiyaki during this meal, but I actually had a ton of fun too! My only regret is not ordering any of the desserts. I checked out pictures of Dohtonbori’s desserts on the web after our meal and they look so good! I definitely have to go back, maybe with my friends some time? Anyway I hope you found this place as interesting as I did from my little review, and maybe you can hit it up this Valentine’s Day for a change from the usual sit-down date! 🙂

Look at them smiles on our faces. 😀

Dohtonbori

Upper Ground Floor, Main Building, SM City North EDSA, Quezon City
Hours: 10 AM to 10 PM

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Full disclosure: This post was not sponsored in any way. All opinions stated above are my own.

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