At this point, everyone has tried the ramen burger, tried to try it, or tried to make it– if they weren’t already over it before the hype began. Next, please! The crew at Osaka Grub, a Japanese street-food stall that opened yesterday at Essex Street Market, may have have found a way to replace the burger-sized hole in your heart (and stomach). Enter: the okonomiyaki slider.
As any discerning foodie (hopefully) knows by now, okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake made out of cake flour, eggs, cabbage, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), dashi broth, and whatever else you want to throw in. David Senn, who founded Osaka Grub with his wife Diana Tam, explained that “okonomiyaki” literally means “as you like it,” indicating that the dish is endlessly customizable.
So what’s with this slider, then? As you can see in the video above, two little buns are made out of perfectly round okonomiyakis. Nestled between them is a 100% beef patty, pickled ginger, Japanese mayo, bonito flajes, and aonori, a type of seaweed. The result is an umami flavor explosion in your mouth, in all the right ways.
Senn is originally from London but lived in Japan for three years and met Tam there (she’s from Queens but was also living in Japan at the time). He became instantly smitten with the quality of the food in the country. “I got really fat, because everything in Japan tastes fantastic,” he said with a laugh. When the couple then moved to New York, they brainstormed ways to bring the fun, casual deliciousness of okonomiyaki Stateside.
For Senn and Tam, their location at Essex Street Market couldn’t be more ideal. “We get a lot of our produce from here, we never run out of anything because it’s all in the market,” he said. As he was speaking, one of the butchers from the meat stall in the market sauntered by, inquiring whether he could get some of Osaka Grub’s Japanese-style chicken, which is fried with potato starch. After happily granting his request, Senn said: “These guys love the chicken. We buy our chicken from them, and then they come to us and buy it right back!”
Although Osaka Grub is the newest food vendor to open its doors at Essex Street Market, there are plenty of options for hungry shoppers. Arancini Bros, which opened its outpost in early February, sells up deep-fried balls of carby joy filled with creamy risotto of various kinds. The outpost at Essex Street Market is the only permanent location in the United States so far, an employee at Arancini Bros explained.
Puebla Mexican Food, which had to close its East Village location in March of last year, also lives on at Essex Street Market and continues to cook up the specialties from its namesake southwestern Mexican state, including the customer favorites mole poblano and tamales rellenos.
A new addition to look out for will be Top Hops, a beer bar and vendor which is set to open its stall at the market sometime this autumn.
Essex Street Market’s facade also got a major upgrade– this week artist Gera Lozano finished up the produce-themed color-popping mural that adorns the entrance to the market.
Video by Kavitha Surana