This awful, incoherent mess slathered in too much sauce is from a Japanese restaurant in the basement of my apartment building. I had eaten there only once before: teriyaki chicken, which ended up being rather so-so: I could have done a better job of cooking it. I decided to give the place another try tonight, mainly because I'd been irrationally jonesing for some okonomiyaki, and I'd seen that dish on this restaurant's menu.
My first okonomiyaki experience was in Osaka. I was between flights and had a long layover; I met my Jamerican friend Justin Yoshida, and he took me to a local restaurant where we sat down and ordered Osaka's version of soul food. It was great: fresh vegetables and meat thrown together in a loose sort of pancake that was nicely crunchy on the outside. I thought the squirted brown and white sauces were a bit tacky, but the overall visual and gustatory impressions I had were overwhelmingly positive.
Tonight's okonomiyaki was edible, but a far cry from what I'd eaten in Osaka. The pancake wasn't even a pancake: it was a pile of mush that barely held itself together. It tasted good enough for me to wade my way through the entire dish (it was meant for two, which is why it was so expensive), but the soggy texture was hugely disappointing. I can see why so many Japanese come to Korea and feel let down when they try to order Koreanized versions of Japanese food. It's often the same for me when it comes to Western food.
Verdict: I doubt I'll be going back to that restaurant.