If you ask people in Tokyo what food they would recommend, “Monjayaki” would be one of the popular responses. When you search for the images, you might be surprised with the outcome. Don’t worry, the taste will surely amaze you. At particular restaurants, you can even cook your own Monjayaki.
“Tsukishima” area in Tokyo is most famous for the Monjayaki. After you’ve tried Monjayaki at Tsukishima, perhaps your favourite Japanese food will might change from sushi to Monjayaki!
What exactly is Monjayaki?
Monjayaki is made out of various ingredients and seasoned wheat flour cooked on a hot iron plate. Monjayaki restaurants provide a small spatula-like utensil for you to use to eat your Monjayaki. The name Monjayaki is derived from “Moji-yaki”, which means “frying letters”. This is because pattern-like letters appear as you dip your spatula onto the hot pan.
In Japan, cheap sweets that are popular among children are known as “Dagashi” and some kinds of Monjayaki is also included in this category as well. As long as you have wheat flour and water prepared as the base, you can basically add on any other ingredients to make Monjayaki. Monjayaki is a dish that is very popular with the local people of all ages.
Let's start the journey to find the best Monjayaki
Talking about Monjayaki, it is best to try the authentic ones. “Asakusa” and “Tsukishima” areas are very famous for Monjayaki. Especially in Tsukishima, there is a district full of Monjayaki restaurants and is very popular among tourists. Not sure where to eat Monjayaki? Visit Tsukishima!
The closest train station to Tsukushima is Tsukushima station. From Tokyo station (40 minutes by bus from Haneda airport), take the train via Yamanote line to Yurakucho station. Next, transfer to the Yurakucho line and head for Tsukishima station. Monjayaki restaurants are located just outside the station.
You can also take the bus from Tokyo station to Tsukushima without having to transfer, transportation to the Monjayaki heaven is very convenient!
Popular ingredients used in Monjayaki
Since you can add any ingredients onto Monjayaki, menus at each Monjayaki restaurant is different. There will be lots of menus for you to choose from and of course if you can’t make a choice, feel free to ask the restaurant what their recommended menu is!
Common ingredients used to make Monjayaki include cabbages and sweet corn. Cabbages are dispensable for keeping the shape of Monjayaki and sweet corn is often used as a topping. Some restaurants can increase the amount of cabbages and sweet corn for you so do not hesitate to talk to them!
The texture of Monjayaki can change depending on the ingredients. If you want to try a filling Monjayaki, add extra mochi (rice cake) as a topping. Since it is made with glutinous rice, it is likely to keep your stomach full. The heat from the iron plate softens the mochi. As you take a bite, you’ll find the mochi can stretch like mozzarella cheese!
If you prefer a lighter texture, we recommend you to add “Baby Star”, a dagashi snack, onto your topping. These look like dried noodles and adding this will make you Monjayaki even crispier!
You can change the entire flavor of Monjayaki by adding “tarako” (salted-flavoured cod roe) or “mentaiko” (marinated cod roe). These go very well with Monjayaki and gives a refreshing taste compared with adding pork slices as a topping.
Cook your own Monjayaki!
At most restaurants, you will be able to cook Monjayaki by yourself! Even if you don’t know how to make it, restaurant staffs are glad to help. It is challenging, and the Monjayaki you cook by yourself will surely be more delicious!
When you order Monjayaki, all the ingredients come in one bowl. Firstly, pour everything onto the hot iron plate except the flour and liquid. Make sure you spread all the ingredients widely so they won’t stick onto the pan. Use the large spatula to chop the ingredients into small pieces.
When you finish chopping, make the ingredients into a shape of a circle and make a whole in the middle of the circle. Next, pour the liquid into the hole slowly and wait for it to boil. Do not pour all the liquid in one go, wait for the liquid to simmer and then pour the liquid until there is none left.
After pouring all the liquid, mix everything together using your spatula. If you are unsure about any of the steps, the restaurant staffs will kindly help you.
When your Monjayaki is ready, use the small spatulas to eat them. Scoop the Monjayaki with your spatula and pressed them against the hot pan. When it turns a little brown, you can eat it!
As we introduced earlier, you can also have fun creating pattern-like characters using the small spatula!
Monjayaki souvenirs at Tsukishima
Since Tsukishima is famous for Monjayaki restaurants in the district, there are also shops selling Monjayaki-related product as well.
Don't forget to stop by Tsukishima for Monjayaki!
You will definitely enjoy cooking your own Monjayaki. The taste is remarkably delicious but not only that, just by going to Monjayaki restaurants will give you a sense of traditional culture. Enjoy your time in Tsukishima, and don’t forget to try the Monjayaki there!