The Dish That Changed My Life by Christopher Tan

From person to person, eating food is a dynamic experience. Some eat for sustenance, while others eat for joy and experience. Growing up, I never enjoyed food. Left and right, my parents would force me to finish my meals. However, this all changed in 2019 in a tiny little restaurant in Shibuya, Tokyo. Hidden behind alleyways and backroads lies the restaurant that changed my life. They served exclusively one dish, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki. As you walk through the noren, the smell of sesame oil and the sound of crackling batter on the griddle fill the air. Greeted by a loud, “IRASSHAIMASE,” and then led to a seat on the bar, the chef begins to cook your meal. The chef adds a healthy serving of oil onto the griddle, once it begins to steam, he adds the batter infused with cabbage, eggs, and pickled radish. As it slowly cooks on the griddle, the chef, like a madman, throws on fresh udon, nori, bonito flakes, green onions, Japanese mayo, and pork belly. Although this dish sounds like something you would cook on a Saturday night at 2 am after having a little too much to drink, it truly is amazing in every way. The crunch of the batter, the juiciness of the pork belly, and the freshness of the green onions add up to make something completely unexpected. This experience in Japan opened my eyes and was the beginning of my goal to eat as much good food as I possibly can.

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