Going to Mizuno during an off-peak time at 3pm means we have the luxury of not having to wait in line for okonomiyaki, an Osakan specialty that is not quite a Japanese pancake nor is it quite a pizza. Okonomiyaki can be found in many places in Osaka (it's a regional specialty, after all) and this family establishment of over 65 years and running provides some sentimental value which also makes it one of the more popular places. During our later conversations with the St Regis bartender and a taxi driver, we learn that they are familiar with Mizuno among many other okonomiyaki restaurants in Osaka.
We slide open the door and step into Mizuno. Instantly, we smell the savory aroma that is wafting throughout the entire restaurant. The space is small, just like other Japanese restaurants, and Mizuno only seats 9 people at a time at the counter. Despite it being an off-peak time, the seats are filled the entire time with guests leaving and coming. Seating is directly facing and along the elongated flat top grill. On the other side of the grill are two men preparing okonomiyaki right in front of the guests as they put in their orders.
We start with the famed yamaimo-yaki prepared with their popular yam flour. As our choice of protein, we pick ika (squid). Other protein options include pork loin, pork slice, scallop, and ebi (prawn). The chef first grills the strips of ika, separately mixes the batter of yam flour in a bowl, and then pours the mixture over the ika. A handful of bonito flakes is scattered on top of the batter and then covered with a lid. The final steps include smearing the top with sweet sauce and Japanese mayo. The yamaimo-yaki is the perfect amalgamation of savory and sweet from the yam flour, squid, and dressing. Okonomiyaki is served right on the grill itself. Each person gets his or her own metal spatula and dishes out the okonomiyaki bit by bit onto his or her own plate.
Other popular items include maze-yaki (regular batter with noodle and egg), miduno-yaki (also regular batter with pork and eggs), and kimchi-yaki (made with kimchi).