Friday, April 7, 2017

Chugoku Sanyo, San-in 中国地方山陽、山陰 - Mitchan Sohonten みっちゃん総本店

Visited 23.04.2015 (Thu)

Battle of okonomiyaki. I love okonomiyaki and knew this was a specialty of Osaka all this while (even though I have not tried it personally in Osaka despite visited Japan numerous times). Little did I knew, okonomiyaki is also part of Hiroshima's rich food culture as well. So how do we distinct between the two different versions? Osaka's version mixes the batter together with all the ingredients first before pouring them directly on the hot plate. Whereas in Hiroshima's style okonomiyaki, the ingredients such as cabbage, meat/seafood and soba are put onto the pancake in a layered fashion. The popularity of okonomiyaki in Hiroshima has given rise to more than 1,800 restaurants offering this savory Japanese pancakes within the prefecture! With so many options to choose from, it was hard to decide on which to patronise. I finally decided on Mitchan Sohoten, a long running restaurant which first started out as a roadside stall in 1950.

Bustling with diners. Though we reached slightly before dinner hour, there was already a queue formed outside the restaurant. When we slide opened the doors, we were overwhelmed by the lively and bustling crowd in the restaurant, all eagerly waiting or tucking into their piping hot okonomiyaki. The open concept kitchen allows diners to see the chefs at work, hear the sizzling sounds from the teppanyaki and drool at the numerous okonomiyaki made concurrently in front of their eyes.

Okonomiyaki. Decided on Mitchan's Special Okonomiyaki (特製スペシャル), which comprised of fried squid, squid, shrimp, rice cake and udon (can choose either udon or soba). Apart from these ingredients, the okonomiyaki is jumbo packed with cabbage and beansprouts, between two thin layers of pancakes, brushed with their original sweet sauce and sprinkled with seafood powder just before served. Every bite of the okonomiyaki was so enjoyable as our teeth sank into the sweet tasting vegetables and springy udon noodles. The sweet sauce was umami and further elevated the flavours of the pancake; the taste is something that will make diners hooked onto it.

Oysters. From the teppanyaki menu, we ordered oysters and koune (コウネ) beef to go with our pancake. Hiroshima harvests oysters from the nearby Seto Inland Sea and is well known for its fat and juicy oysters. The oysters were cooked on the metal plate till they are coloured with a light brown crust on the outside. All of us exclaimed at how delicious the oysters were, a taste which we have not encountered before in Singapore. This was also an excellent prelude to our oyster feast in Miyajima planned on the following day.

Koune. This is the first time I come across the word "koune" in Japan which actually refers to the meat near the side of the front leg of a cow and is rich in collagen and gelatin. Only 2 kg of such meat can be retrieved from one cow, therefore making koune precious and limited in quantity. This is well liked by the locals in Hiroshima, thus elevating the dish to become a specialty of this prefecture. On the first look, the meat reminded me of pork belly used for shabu shabu. Tastewise, the fatty portion of the meat is what makes it so tasty and addictive.


Mitchan Sohonten みっちゃん総本店
Opening hours:
- Weekdays: 1100 - 1430 hrs, 1730 - 2130 hrs
- Weekends and public holidays: 1100 - 1500 hrs; 1700 - 2130 hrs

How to get there? 

(1) By streetcar and walk.
From Hiroshima Station, take Hiroden Streetcar 1, 2 or 6 and alight at Hatchobori Station 八丁堀. It takes another 5 minutes to walk to the restaurant from the streetcar station.

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