A traditional dinner of Japanese-style pancakes with a friendly and gentle old Japanese man in his own home – who wouldn’t want to try that? Well, it’s entirely possible in Juju, a tiny Okonomiyaki restaurant in the quiet suburb of Hiyoshi, a mere ten minute stroll from the station.
From the moment you set your eyes on this quaint little restaurant, it is hard to resist. Outside, Juju is lit up with colourful fairy lights and billowing flags, giving it a delightful glow; a gem amongst the drab little houses on either side of it. Climb the stairs and slide the glass doors open to reveal eight mismatched stools, arranged along a giant hotplate upon the counter. Behind, 83-year-old Juju-san (Mr Juju) stands beaming in invitation. The restaurant is warm and bright, smells heavenly and feels just like home (which it is – Juju-san lives upstairs!).
Okonomiyaki master Juju-san does not speak a word of English, and yet conversation is possible through a lot of gesturing and a lot of laughter. As for the food, it is absolutely delicious, and the servings are huge. Tell him what you would like – don’t worry, there is an English menu at the restaurant with photos to help you out! Your Okonomiyaki medley of noodles, cabbage, meat or seafood, egg, mochi (sticky rice), and cheese is all drizzled with a sticky sauce and mayonnaise… right in front of your very eyes. Want something in particular? Just ask him if he has it and he will tailor your meal specifically for you!
While you wait for your food to cook – it takes about 40 minutes, so give yourself plenty of time – there are traditional puzzles and games made of wood to attempt to solve at the restaurant. Juujuu-san will giggle cheekily and if you are clearly struggling (you most probably will be…), will give you the secret instructions.
When the Okonomiyaki is done, it will be slid over to you but remain on the hotplate. Use the tool provided to cut it into small squares and enjoy with chopsticks! (Cutting it like a pizza is not the traditional way…) Plenty of mayonnaise and extra sauce is recommended!
Once you simply cannot eat another bite (you can ask to take any leftovers with you without a problem), there is one more treat! Juju-san’s homemade yoghurt and ice-cream mixture served in a little red cup is the perfect afterthought to an amazing meal. Ice-cold while simultaneously sweet and sour, this special dessert is something unique to this restaurant.
After the meal, Juju-san will ask to take a photo, which he then immediately retreats into his house to print out. He chooses a coloured piece of paper, onto which he glues the photograph, and you can write him a message or your name. Shuffling through a few stacks of folders, he will whip out one into which he slides this memento, a lovely reminder of your afternoon or evening for both him and you.
As you leave, Juju will wish you well and to come back, smiling and waving from his glittering restaurant so full of genuine charm and warmth. You are now another loving mouth he has fed, giving you a new source of awe at where you have come from, a part of his extended family.
Give yourself at least 1hr30 for a relaxed experience at the restaurant.
Average cost: 1000 yen, incl. Okonomiyaki and dessert
Other dishes are also available, including yakisoba (fried noodles), gyoza (Japanese dumplings), etc.
Vegetarian options are available – just ask for no meat/fish and no Katsuobushi (fish flakes)
From JR Shinjuku station, take the JR Yamanote line inner loop for Osaki, and get off at Shibuya. This costs 160 Yen. At Shibuya, transfer to the Tokoyo/Minatomirai Line Express for Motomachi-Chukagai, and get off at Hiyoshi. This costs 220 Yen.
The total journey takes 33 minutes and will cost you 380 Yen.
From Hiyoshi station, walk ten minutes west to Juju.
|Address||〒223-0062 Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Kōhoku-ku, Hiyoshihonchō, 2 Chome−21−22|
|Access||[map]〒223-0062 Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Kōhoku-ku, Hiyoshihonchō, 2 Chome−21−22[/map]|
|Opening Hours||Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday (12:00-14:00, 18:00-22:00)|