Monday, 23 November 2009

Abeno review - piping hot Japanese okonomiyaki prepared on your table's hotplate in London

We were at the British Museum's Moctezuma : Ruler of Aztec and popped by Abeno along Museum Street for a light snack after the exhibition. More precisely, we were gunning for the okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese rosti with chopped cabbage instead of potato strips.


Each table has got a metal hotplate installed and that alone, when heated up, is a welcome respite from the chilling wind blowing outside. We must have dropped in at an inopportune time as most of the staff were having their dinner at the rear end of the dining area but we were shown to our table promptly by a pleasant Japanese lady.

I couldn't help but feel that most of the items on the menu, in particularly the okonomiyaki, were created for the benefit of non-Japanese. With names like London Mix and Tokyo Mix, you could hardly blame me.

Tokyo Mix okonomiyaki ingredients before mixing them up

Okonomiyaki all meshed up and cookin' on the hotplate

With mayo and sweet sauce... viola!

Anyway, we ordered Tokyo Mix (super deluxe size) - £12, which was to be prepared right in front of us. The lady brought a mixing bowl that contained chopped cabbage, squid, prawns and two eggs with a separate plate of pork slices. After showing us the ingredients, she proceeded to mix them up with a ladle before pouring the mix onto our table's piping hot metal plate.

For £12, I would expect something really filling. However, the resultant okonomiyaki was barely 6 inches in diameter - hardly enough to line two stomachs (that was for super deluxe, imagine the deluxe portion!). As the ingredients were not marinated, the taste of an okonomiyaki came from the mayonnaise, Japanese sweet sauce and seaweed added generously on the it. I guess the price is really for the novelty of having the dish done on your table.

Raw gyozas - freshly made

10 minutes on the hotplate and they're piping hot and ready to eat

We ordered some yaki-gyozas as well (5 pieces for £5.50). Similar to the okonomiyaki, the gyozas were grilled on the same hot plate. The gyozas, which fillings included asparagus and black tiger prawns, were light to the taste and would be an apt appetizer.

Wafu hotcake from the Winter menu - nice round up to the meal

For desserts, we went for Wafu Hotcake (£4.50) offered on Abeno's winter menu. Again, the Wafu hotcake was prepared on our table. Its preparation involved adding two rice cakes with a spoonful of red bean paste some pancake batter warming on the hotplate. The result? A chewy mixture with a light sweet taste - a good round up to the meal with the accompanying scoop of green tea ice-cream.

Abeno is a great place for an afternoon snack and the having your food prepared on your table sure makes for good conversation. However, the price is a tad high if you are looking to eat your fill. Also, do make time allowance for the food preparation as that can take up quite some time.

Address: 47 Museum Street, London WC1A 1LY
Tel: 020 7405 3211
Nearest Tube station: Russell Square

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £15 pp

Taste: ***
Service: ***
Ambience: **
Suitable for: a light afternoon snack
Abeno on Urbanspoon

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Porl said...

Had a pleasant enough evening but much of the novelty of Abeno is just about having the food cooked in front of you. I'd much rather get more taste and quantity at a Korean BBQ instead.

The okonomiyaki was small, samey, much like a rosti as the reviewer states, and just tasted of bacon. It's also covered in that yuck gloopy mayo stuff. They might make an interesting snack or side dish but don't really warrant a £12 hit and their own restaurant.

Service was good and we had some fried noodles as well which were OK. But we left thinking it was poor value, overrated and just a bit, well, unnecessary. I know they have these restaurants in Japan, I've been to one or two.

C K said...

I agree that the pricing is a bit high. Don't think that I'll be there in a hurry again. Other than the price, you can't really fault Abeno.

shimase said...

lol C K do you go to every single Japanese food restaurant

if so what is the best Japanese place to go to for a fare-well party for a Japanese friend

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