Located near Roppongi-itchome Station is Santekan, a little gem that serves up heartyokonomiyaki—a well-loved comfort food that’s become a staple of Osakan cuisine. Comprising pancake-like batter, meat, squid, shrimp, or vegetables, it’s a dish that’s cooked on the spot. Created by Wataru Toda, who started the famous Kiji okonomiyaki house in Osaka, Santekan is cheap, cheerful, and fun.
The vibe here is decidedly boisterous, with raucous laughter and lively banter all around. But rest assured, this is not a daytime izakaya. It’s busy, casual, and filled with patrons coming hungry and leaving satisfied.
The dishes are prepared by chefs donning tall, white hats—however, the restaurant still maintains a do-it-yourself ambience, probably due to the hot plates on each table. The okonomiyaki is served swiftly and placed on the hot plate; from there, it’s up to the guest to cook the batter and enjoy it as they please.
The vast and very affordable lunch menu presents great choices for group outings. The okonomiyaki itself is around ¥1,000, available in such options as squid (¥880), squid and pork (¥950), beef tendon (¥1,000), Okonomiyaki of the Day (¥930), mixed (¥1,080), and many more. Those wanting an extra taste of Osaka may select the modanyaki (¥1,000), a mix of yakisoba and okonomiyaki, fried together—or you could just ask for yakisoba (starting from ¥830).
People-watchers can observe the dedicated chefs in action at the counter, perched over the hot plate, performing theatrics alongside unlimited batches of cabbage.
The most amusing parts of the dining experience in Santekan are the few unexpected elements that stand in complete contrast to the establishment’s casual vibe. In the center of the restaurant is a unique chandelier made of okonomiyaki spatulas. Meanwhile, the seats at the back of the counter chairs open up, revealing secret storage compartments.
Solitary patrons need not hesitate to enter, as Santekan isn’t only for groups. The counter provides single seats where diners may sit and observe the theatrics up close.
Another attribute is that the subway is literally just steps away, making that last train home or to the office less likely to be missed.
Interesting and fun, this venue is spot-on for a much-needed get-together with friends. Sizzling hot plates, the smell of fried cabbage, squid and pork, rowdy crowds … what are you waiting for?