Okonomiyaki with a beer is a beautiful combination, and one that recently motivated me to travel south to SoDo where Epic Ales has its headquarters. It’s here that you’ll find Gastropod, a tiny gastropub within a brewpub that serves up a small, ever-changing menu of food items to accompany original craft beers and beer cocktails.
The beer menu is broken into several categories, including a “wildly fermented” (my favorite) section featuring brews that can have “quite a bit of funk.” Novices should know that there are food-pairing suggestions and various-sized pours if you want to experiment.
Okonomiyaki is a mainstay on the menu, though the contents of this savory Japanese pancake will vary week-to-week. The night I went, the offering was okonomiyaki with asparagus and mochi. The promised heart of palm and bacon salad placed atop the pancake was leafier than I expected, then again, I’m not accustomed to any salad served on okonomiyaki. Eggomaniacs (this should be a word!) will enjoy the egg-on-egg action, as Gastropod puts a fried egg on its okonomiyaki—in this case, a hen egg.
The problem was with the pancake itself. It was rather dense and dry, despite the squiggles of wasabi mayonnaise. I’m wondering if the addition of mochi (not my favorite ingredient in okonomiyaki, but sometimes used) might have sponged up the batter too much. Regardless, it was an offbeat version of okonomiyaki overall. Trout (with nicely crisped skin) similarly suffered from its combination with disparate ingredients: fiddlehead ferns, ramp cream, and pickled kumquats. Better were the more simple spring onions, oven-roasted with green garlic oil.
In comparison, okonomiyaki was my favorite dish at the newly opened TanakaSan—a Tom Douglas joint. I believe the batter was lighter than Gastropod’s, well-whipped, then cooked and served fresh, as it was elegantly delicate and crispy with delicious flavor. Filled with bacon and shrimp, the okonomiyaki was topped traditionally and just as I like it with green onions, mayonnaise, okonomiyaki sauce, and the tell-tale dancing bonito flakes.
(Both okonomiyaki plates were a bit on the expensive side, by the way. Gastropod’s was $12, while Tanakasan’s was $13.)
You can see more food from TanakaSan in my “First Look” report.
More from Gastropod:
Spring onions ($3)