Monday, June 24, 2013


(UPDATE 10/17/13: I have confirmed from their business Facebook page that Okinoshima will be closing on October 19, 2013.)

Okinoshima is located near SW 3rd and Stark in downtown Portland, Oregon.

I remember my study abroad in Japan almost 10 years ago. A bunch of us would take advantage of our Friday nights and just go exploring. We ate at a few places and took in the nightlife. Some of the food we had included okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese pancake) and takoyaki (a savory puff ball filled with octopus).

A man and woman headed this cart. Not sure if they are a husband-and-wife team, but they were indeed speaking Japanese to one another.

(May 2013)
Okonomiyaki starts with a savory batter; shredded cabbage (and possibly other vegetables); eggs (scrambled into the pancake); and your choice of meat, tofu, or seafood.

I went with the pork okonomiyaki ($7) this time. After cooking, the okonomiyaki is topped with Japanese mayo; aonori (seaweed flakes); a sweet, thick okonomiyaki sauce; and a bunch of bonito flakes. The okonomiyaki sauce is like a sweeter, thicker version of Worcestershire sauce.

Wrapped very similar to what I'd find in Hawaii, at least...
Pork Okonomiyaki
For those wondering, that's a bunch of bonito flakes on top
This okonomiyaki all but took me back to my study abroad trip. Very well prepared. A lovely golden brown on the outside. A healthy amount of shredded cabbage on the inside. The top was basically a thin layer of juicy pork slices. I could feel the authenticity in this dish.

Slice of pork there. Juicy and delicious.
Underside of the okonomiyaki
It took a while (perhaps at least 10-15 minutes) to receive my meal, even though I was the only one who ordered anything at the cart the entire time I was there. It's probably safe to assume that the wait is longer during the usual downtown lunch rush. Might be something to keep in mind if you're pressed for time.

The takoyaki ($5) at this cart is filled with octopus, tenkasu (deep-fried bits of flour batter to add texture and crunch), pickled ginger, scallion, and minced cabbage.

Hiyaki Chu-ka ($7) is basically a cold noodle dish with sesame vinegar, egg, cucumber, tomato, and sliced turkey.

Hashimaki ($4) is their take on a savory cabbage crepe rolled on chopsticks. It's served with an egg on top. (Hashi = chopsticks)

Yakisoba is also popular at this cart. It's served with cabbage and an egg on top. $7 for pork or tofu; $8 for seafood.

For summer hours, this cart opens for lunch at 11 a.m. From Wednesday through Sunday, they break in the middle of the afternoon and prep for the dinner rush. This cart is closed on Tuesdays.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, there is a lunch special from 12 to 2 p.m. Okonomiyaki, cold noodle, and yakisoba dishes are $1 off.

It might not necessarily be food that people in Portland may be used to seeing, but I hope people give this food cart a try. 8.5/10

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