Okadaman Truck’s Getting Better With Time
After a frazzled start, I knew the Okadaman truck would pull through. I was so eager to taste this Japanese pub food from a truck that I made my way over on their first day a few Fridays back. Slow service and long waits for food along with seemingly unorganized ordering methods got them off to a rocky start. But this is Midtown where the crowds are fast and furious, so it always takes a while for these new trucks to get their bearings.
I stopped by for lunch again last Friday (a week after their launch) and hoped I could try the two dishes I didn’t have time to wait for the previous week. There was no line and just a handful of customers waiting for their food and thankfully nobody looked angry or overly hungry. They changed their system and now you order and pay at a register up front of the truck and pick up your food when they call your name. I was disappointed that there was no combo option that paired their two most buzzed about dishes together. So in the interest of journalism, I splurged with one combo (1/2 an okonomiyaki and kara-age) and an order of takoyaki. After a mere 10 minutes of waiting, they even gave me two forks – probably assuming I was going to share these two orders with somebody. Um, wrong!
The takoyaki were the natural appetizer. You get 8 octopus balls and three toothpicks. This is clearly not enough for a meal and at $6.50 too expensive for a solo appetizer, so it makes sense to share with your friends (if you have any). They were smaller and a little more browned than the ones I’ve had at Otafuku, the popular takoyaki place in the East Village. But there was still a nice sweet and salty balance from the mayonnaise, ginger, and seaweed garnishes.
And the inside of the fritters (which each contained a small piece of octopus meat) had a creamy gooey texture. I tasted a bit of smoky fishiness, but I couldn’t locate any bonito (they may have been very small flakes), which I always thought was half the fun of this dish.
For my combo, I re-visited their Japanese fried chicken (kara-age), which no longer came with rice but sat solely on a bed of raw cabbage. The four generous chunks of chicken were maybe better than I had remembered (very moist with lots of citrus and umami).
The other side of the container featured half an okonomiyaki, covered with those dramatic bonito flakes (although they were no longer flopping around). I chose the original pancake which is served with pork (a seafood option has squid). In addition to the bonito, this pancake was covered in a mess of white and brown sauces which really played up the rich sweetness. I was disappointed to not discover much pork (I think I only detected one bite), but the griddled cake had lots of deep flavors and a browned, eggy texture that I almost didn’t miss the pork.
I was definitely full after eating both dishes, but I think the combo ($8) on its own could have done the trick. The takoyaki ($6.50), while tasty and unique (especially from a truck), isn’t enough for a meal but could be a great after work snack – it would be great to pair with some Happy Hour drinks. Too bad Okadaman isn’t staying around Midtown after 3pm, but you can find them in Midtown East (usually 48th between Park and Lex) every day for lunch. And it’s something different and decadent that seems to get better as each week goes by. Of course, check the Twitter Tracker before heading out to be safe.