I am in love with Brixton Village. As previously mentioned in my review of KaoSarn, this indoor market arcade comprised of permanent little cafes and restaurants offers everything I want from eating out, multiple times over. Yes, there are also a variety of shops that also look great for a nose around in, but I’m usually too busy salivating, stuffing my face, or staggering out with a food baby to have the focus or energy for this.
Continuing on my mission to tour all the establishments of the Village, my most recent excursion was to Okan, a small (well, they’re all small) Japanese street food restaurant. No sushi in sight! The short menu here should be seen as a pro not a con – why stuff the menu with filler when they execute their few dishes so beautifully?
The selection of mini starters - kimchi, fried aubergine, a sesame-dressed tofu salad and salted edamame beans - can be ordered all together on one big plate, and everyone seemed to be doing this. My favourite of these was unsurprisingly the kimchi (I went through a worrying couple of weeks last year when I ate the stuff out of a jar every day, and Okan’s version of the spicy pickle was infinitely better than my much-loved jar variety), closely followed more surprisingly by the sesame-dressed tofu salad. The fried aubergine was served cold and a bit mushy though, I would have preferred it hot. It was pretty gross.
Okan’s main speciality is the okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancakey-omlette sort of thing, available with an array of fillings such as sweetcorn, kimchi, pork, chicken, prawn or squid. This is topped with a delicious Japanese mayonnaise (we asked for extra of course), a sweet brown sauce and crispy seaweed, and for an extra pound you can even add noodles to complete the strangely wonderful concoction.
We ordered one with pork and noodles, and one ‘Okan Special’, with kimchi, sweetcorn, prawn and squid, and shared both. I spent the whole meal proclaiming “This one’s my favourite! … Oh no, actually, this one’s my favourite! … Hmmm… But this one is good…” Eventually I came to the conclusion that they were both great and I loved them equally. The combination of crunchy, meaty and soft textures, with smoky, spicy, fishy and eggy flavours worked a treat.
The service was super-friendly and super-quick, almost too quick… We hadn’t finished our starters when the mains appeared, which we proceeded to demolish without hesitation. The whole process took place well within half an hour, but such is the nature of street food I suppose!
(Picture from Timeout, don’t shoot me, I forgot to take my own…)