100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: Okonomiyaki at Kobe An

No. 34: Okonomiyaki at Kobe An
Okonomiyaki is a common street food or diner-style dish in Osaka that has spread throughout Japan, but is relatively rare in the U.S. — and almost impossible to find in Denver. The dish is similar to an omelette or savory pancake, and hits all the notes — salty, sweet, rich and fatty — that make for instant comfort food, even if some of the ingredients are a little unfamiliar. Kobe An is the place to go if you want to experience this sizzling hot slab of eggy goodness.

Kobe An has been serving up Japanese specialties in Denver since 1979 but closed its original Lakewood location last year and reopened in a downstairs spot in Cherry Creek North earlier this year. Go at lunch if you want a quiet meal (residents and businesspeople in the area haven't quite caught on to the new location yet) or stop in for dinner in the elegant and dimly lit dining space, which includes traditional tatami rooms with low tables. Along with sushi, noodle soups, tempura and an assortment of grilled steaks and seafood, the okonomiyaki hides out on the "Other Kobe An Favorites" page, drawing little attention to itself among the more familiar dishes. 

Kobe An's version of the dish is light and fluffy, but also has enough egg to make it more than just a pancake. The batter is laced through with finely chopped vegetables and herbs, including a generous dose of scallions. Thin slices of crisp pork belly that are closer to pancetta than bacon pave the top of the okonomiyaki (you can also opt for ribeye steak or shrimp, but the pork belly offers the most breakfast-style flavor). On top of that, spirals of tangy Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce — thick and sweet like teriyaki — dazzle in a hypnotist's wheel, drawing you into its savory spell.

Served on a scorching cast-iron skillet, the dish stays hot down to the last bite, so a big Japanese beer is the perfect accompaniment. A shake of grass-green seaweed flakes and a mound of pickled ginger add bursts of brightness and umami. While offered as an entree, Kobe An's okonomiyaki would also make a great appetizer, cut into pizza-style wedges for sharing with a group. It's a humble dish that rises to culinary brilliance due to its rarity and the adept skills of Kobe An's kitchen.

Although the Best of Denver 2015 edition is out, we'll keep counting down the contenders for the best dishes in the city in advance of Westword's Dish event on September 20, where many of our Best of Denver winners — along with other favorites — will congregate to serve up small plates. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected]

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta
No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant
No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class
No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch 
No. 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa
No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's
No.94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle
No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus
No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar
No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria
No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co.
No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo
No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den
No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City
No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia
No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top
No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall
No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico
No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine
No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana
No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria
No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee
No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's
No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie
No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde
No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones
No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe
No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn
No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium
No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale
No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill
No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada
No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli
No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop
No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151
No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co.
No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen
No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer
No. 61: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's
No. 60: Sesame Balls at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 59: Curry Puffs at Suvipa Thai Food
No. 58: Diavola Pizza at Pizzeria Locale
No. 57: Chorizo Breakfast Stew at DJ's 9th Avenue Cafe
No. 56: The Rare Beast Sandwich at Salt & Grinder
No. 55: 48-Hour Short Ribs at Chop Shop Casual Urban Eatery
No. 54: Marrow Bone Brulee at Mercantile Dining & Provision
No. 53: Prawns and Pork Belly at Blackbelly Market
No. 52: Belgian Waffles from Waffle Up
No. 51: Nashville Hot Chicken at Lou's Food Bar
No. 50: Breakfast Burrito from Chickee's Lil Kitchen 
No. 49: Monkfish and Romanesco at TAG
No. 48: Cabeza Tacos at Taqueria El Trompito
No. 47: Pupusas Revueltas at Pupuseria San Salvador
No. 46: Sesame Pockets at Golden Plate II
No. 45: Tuna Mousse at Cart-Driver
No. 44: Tavern Tots at the Highland Tavern  
No. 43: Carne Asada Fries at North County
No. 42: Pho at Wonderbowl
No. 41: Shredded Bison at Tocabe
No. 40: Nachos al Pastor from Tony Guacamole
No. 39: Prosciutto Pop Tart from Bakin' Bakery
No. 38: Ham and Egg Congee at Onefold
No 37: Lao Sausage at the Asian Cajun
No 36: Pan Bagnat at Fuel Cafe 
No 35: Meatloaf Sandwich at City Bakery Cafe