How do you eat monjayaki? Tips on the right tool & where to start

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 12, 2020

Monjayaki, known by locals as monja, is a local dish from Tokyo’s Tsukishima region. It’s like a salty pancake that’s extremely runny!

That’s why a lot of you asked, how do you eat monjayaki?

In this post, I’ll give some tips on how to eat your monjayaki.

Tips on eating monjayaki

When most people see this dish for the first time, their initial reaction is that it doesn’t look too appetizing aesthetically.

But actually, it’s a delicious Japanese dish that can be made with such a large variety of ingredients, you’ll be sure to find a version you’ll love!

You’re probably wondering, “what is this monjayaki?”

It’s a Japanese treat, a kind of pancake-like food similar to okonomiyaki.

Think of it as a pan-fried runny batter made of wheat flour, water, or dashi seafood stock, mixed with your favorite chopped vegetables and seafood (or meat).

This dish is a local secret and delicacy; not many people are familiar with it outside Tokyo.

There is a whole street filled with over 80 restaurants that all serve different varieties of monjayaki, known as “Monja Street.”

I wrote about it here.

To know how to eat it, learn How it’s made

Usually, people enjoy this dish at a restaurant. The servers will bring all the ingredients in a bowl.

You may then choose to cook the food for yourself on the hot pan, or you can let the server assist you.

First, you must fry your vegetables, seafood, or meat. Locals prefer to eat monjayaki with seafood such as clams, oysters, and shrimp.

You don’t want to be eating your main ingredients raw. So, once they are fried for a few minutes, you take the spatula and make a hole in the middle.

The hole is called a “dote” in Japanese. You pour your liquid batter into the hole and let it boil it for a bit.

Then, you need to start spreading it around and mixing all the ingredients together.

As soon as the batter starts to thicken a little, you can begin eating, even though the mixture is still watery.

The bottom will start to caramelize and burn; it’s the favorite part of the dish for many people, and they enjoy eating that part last.

How do you eat monjayaki?

To make and eat the monjayaki, you use a special spatula called a kote or hera.

This utensil is a small spoon-shaped spatula with a flat surface, used to scrape monja off the hot plate.

This whole video by ochikeron is fun to watch, but  skipped to the part where you can see them eating with the specialized utensils:

It’s the perfect tool to use because you can easily scrape the batter off the iron pan and scoop a decent quantity of food.

These JapanBargain ones are really cheap here on Amazon if you’re looking to get some:

Monjayaki spatula

(view more images)

Monjayaki is meant to be eaten while it’s piping hot, but be careful, of course! If you can’t eat it piping hot, you pull it onto your plate and use chopsticks for the larger bits.

The kote spatula is recommended, though, because you can scoop liquid.

The monjayaki is a runny batter; you can’t eat it properly with chopsticks or western style utensils such as forks and knives.

The best way to approach eating the monjayaki is to start little by little from the outside and move inward with your spatula.

Keep the spatula pressed down on the food and scrape towards you. This ensures that the batter keeps frying on the bottom.

What toppings do you put on monjayaki?

Monjayaki can be topped with all kinds of interesting toppings, including shredded seaweed, cheese, condiments, bonito flakes, pickled ginger, and even tempura flakes.

There is also a special okonomiyaki sauce made of ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. It is a sweet and salty sauce famous in Japanese restaurants.

You can read all about monjayaki and it’s cousin okonomiyaki in our blog post on them here, even with a few recipes if you want to try it yourself.

Get your quick start in enjoying Japanese cuisine here with our top recommended tools

Next time you’re face to face with a delicious pan of monjayaki, you can confidently use your kote to grab all the deliciousness onto your plate or eat directly.

Remember that nobody will judge you if it gets a little messy. It’s a runny yet tasty dish, and it’s a blast to eat!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.