Abeno, London

Minutes from the British Museum is a little Japanese restaurant called Abeno, which specializes in okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake/omelette made with egg and flour, and can be mixed with a variety of ingredients including grated yam, cabbage, meat, seafood and dashi.

Abeno

Abeno

This is a really small, and busy restaurant. I arrived early and was able to beg my way in for a quick dinner, but reservations are highly recommended – many people were turned away while I ate my meal.

Each table has a built-in gas flat top grill on which the server cooks your okonomiyaki. My order would soon be busily cooking under that lid. The large spatulas were for cooking, and the mini one was for me to use to cut and serve my food.

Abeno table and grill

Abeno table and grill

I ordered a small Inaka Mix, which includes pork, konnyaku (a.k.a. konjac) and corn. My server mixed everything in a bowl at table-side. He added a dollop of oil onto the grill, then plopped the mixture onto the hot surface, and quickly formed it into a pancake shape.

cooking the okonomiyaki

cooking the okonomiyaki

He then put the lid on top of the whole thing to distribute the heat through the whole okonomiyaki. About half way thorough the cooking process he came back and flipped the whole thing over, and placed the lid back on for further grilling.

part way through the cooking process

part way through the cooking process

And then the whole thing was flipped over again so that the toppings could be added. Look at those pork strips! (No they weren’t streaky bacon, but actually thin slices of pork. Not sure if they were back bacon.)

Almost done!

Almost done!

I told my server that I wanted all the toppings – okonomiyaki sauce (close to a bbq sauce), Kewpie mayonnaise, aonori (seaweed) and bonito flakes. They leave you with bottles of the sauces as well as a bottle of hot sauce in case you want a little more to go with your meal.

Okonomiyaki - ready for eating!

Okonomiyaki - ready for eating!

Ok now the really neat part. (Be warned though, I am easily amused. I’m quite pathetic, really.) I had to take a video of this because it’s something that you have to really see to believe. Watch what happens in reaction to the high heat of the grill. It’s short, so you may have to watch it more than once.

To eat the okonomiyaki, I ended up cutting it up into slices like a pizza. Taste-wise, I have to say that okonomiyaki make a tasty and filling eggy/salty meal. The food, and the restaurant, are perfect for a casual dinner and conversation.

Okonomiyaki aren’t the only thing you can order here –  teppanyaki and a small selection of onigiri, sashimi, gyoza, etc. are also available.

Abeno has two locations – the original Abeno near the British Museum and Abeno Too, located in Leicester Square. The second location isn’t big either, but I find it has more windows and light, and as a result feels a little bigger and less crowded.

Abeno
47 Museum Street, London

Abeno Too
17-18 Great Newport Street, London

www.abeno.co.uk

Abeno on Urbanspoon

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Studio Café, Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a 24-hours kind of place, especially when you are on the Strip. And to meet those needs, it seems like every major hotel has at least one restaurant that is open 24-hours a day. For the MGM Grand, that place is the Studio Café.

We went here for breakfast one day and came away quite impressed. I was expecting the food to be more of the greasy spoon variety, but what we got was huge portions, tasty food and an interesting menu with a mix of basics and gourmet items.

The toast was admittedly nothing special, but I decided to take a photo of it because of the paper.

Studio Café, MGM Grand

Studio Café, MGM Grand

I was tempted to order one of the day’s specials – a lobster omelette – but instead chose one off their regular menu, the Ragin’ Cajun Omelette ($14.00 US). Filled with andouille sausage, green peppers, beans and a spicy shrimp gumbo, it started off my morning with a bit of a kick. On the side was a giant hash brown –  just thick enough to give a good balance between the crispy outside and the soft potato inside.

Ragin Cajun Omelette

Ragin' Cajun Omelette

Our other order was one of the day’s specials – a Greek Omelette ($13.00) served with tzatziki, feta cheese, pitted olives, tomatoes and a very mild amount of jalapeños. I hadn’t expected to like this omelette as much as I did because I was unsure about how the Greek flavours would taste with the eggs, but it was a rather refreshing dish with lots of vegetables. This dish also came with the same delicious hash browns. (Apologies for the crappy lighting of the photo.)

Greek Omelette

Greek Omelette

*Disclaimer: My meal here was discounted because of a comp. Saying that, the prices were relatively reasonable for a place on the Strip and I would have been happy to pay full price for this meal.

Studio Café
MGM Grand, Las Vegas
www.mgmgrand.com/restaurants/studio-cafe.aspx

Studio Cafe (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon