Okonomiyaki is one of those low-end street foods called B級グルメ (B-class gourmet), available everywhere and very popular with just about everyone, from kids to senior citizens. It’s basically a savoury, vegetable pancake made of flour batter, eggs, shredded cabbage, onion, some kind of meat, some kind of seafood, other veggies, cheese, and so on. お好み okonomi means how you like it, and 焼き yaki means fried or cooked in general. Some places cook the food in front of you, while some just serve the ingredients on a tray and you have to do the frying yourself, on a table with a hotplate in the middle.
I’m one of those lazy people who likes to eat out precisely because someone else does the cooking, so I’m not much of a fan of the cook-it-yourself kind of place. But one of the largest chain restaurants serving okonomiyaki, Dohtonbori, collaborated with SnK for an anime-themed menu: TVアニメ「進撃の巨人 The Final Season」×「道とん堀」
The price per themed dish is almost twice as much as their regular menu, but you get a plastic sleeve of one of the four characters (or a combo of the four) picked for the campaign. To my surprise, Jean was one of the chosen ones! Could I be any happier? With these big collaboration projects it’s usually always EMA + Levi, with Jean and the rest of the gang as side characters, if they appear at all.
But not this time! Jean is front and center along with Eren, Levi and Mikasa.
The campaign started on February 20th, a Saturday. I had errands to run that day and couldn’t go, but the next day I texted a colleague of mine, who had gone to the office that Sunday, to ask if she’d like to join me for okonomiyaki after work. Sure, she said, I’m hungry and up for anything. Great, I said.
Making the Trek
Dohtonbori has plenty of restaurants across the country but they’re all located in places a bit of a walk from the nearest train stations, so I picked a restaurant that wasn’t that far away and we met up. Here we are:
Below is a close-up of the ad banner. Mikasa, Jean, Eren and Levi! How lovely to see our man amongst the main protagonists! I must’ve taken a dozen pictures of that banner, ahaha!
The way their faces are drawn are just so in-character: Mikasa being all cute and serious, Jean grinning cockily, Eren large-eyed and intense, and Levi being cool and unperturbed. Awwww! The brown things they wear as bunny ears, by the way, are something my friend and I couldn’t agree on. She thinks they’re supposed to be tanuki (racoon dog, often portrayed as shapeshifters in Japanese folklore and anime/manga) ears, because tanuki is the restaurant’s official mascot. Me, though, being Sasha-like and always hoping things are of the edible variety, think they look like dorayaki (pancake-like Japanese confection, you know, Doraemon’s favourite food). Ahaha!
Inside the restaurant there’s a poster of the Liberio battle, with the islanders on the left and the Marleyan warriors on the opposite side. Wish they sold this poster, I’d frame it and hang on my wall!
We waited for maybe ten to fifteen minutes because the place was full.
Here’s a look at the table for cooking/eating:
You sit on a cushion and there’s space underneath the table to dangle your feet. The hotplate is basically a flat piece of grill for frying, with two metal spatulas provided for flipping. They’re the turners the characters are holding in the banner pictured above.
What to Eat?
Let’s have a look at the menu. Here’s the cover, featuring the same illustration as the poster I wanted for my wall.
What a great illustration! The Jaw Titan and Beast Titan feature prominently, with the Attack Titan and the Armored Titan in fighting pose below. The 104th are in the new black uniform, with Levi in the foreground glaring at the Beast. Mikasa carries thunder spears, and we see Connie, Sasha and Hange up above. Jean is face to face with the Cart Titan. Gabi and Falco run underneath the chaos, the sniper extraordinaire girl holding onto a rifle.
I think I’ll contact Dohtonbori HQ and ask if they’ll sell or give away the menu and/or banners after the campaign is over? I mean, they’re gonna bin them anyway, might as well make us fans happy by drawing lots on it and letting us keep it, ahaha!
Turn it over and we see the available meals:
On the top left is Levi’s, and you have a choice between a chicken okonomiyaki with green tartar sauce to represent the Scouts’ cloak, or an Earl Grey tea-flavoured pancake with vanilla ice cream. Of course there’s tea involved, as Levi’s a tea lover canonically! Next to him is Eren’s dish, featuring a meat patty and cheese okonomiyaki, because you know, he likes cheeseburgers as per the SnK Middle School OVA. Below is Mikasa, with a strip of bacon over a cream croquette. The bacon represents Eren’s scarf, apparently. Beside her is our Jean, with scrambled eggs over ketchup rice (called omuraisu in Japan) dish because you know, he’s into omelets courtesy of his OVA xD Finally, we have the Wall Maria dish, with sausage, strips of pork and cheese sauce. You’re supposed to fry it and then stab and break it apart, like the Colossus Titan destroying the wall xD
On the lower right hand corner of the menu are QR codes for the online shop and official restaurant app, decorated by chibi Jean and Levi. Ugh, they’re too adorable!
I ordered Jean’s meal, in hopes I’d get the Jean plastic sleeve. Yes, that’s really what SnK fans have come for: クリアファイル clear file folders or plastic sleeves featuring each of the four characters, or one with all of them together.
My colleague, who actually didn’t care much for SnK and only agreed to come in order to humour me, ordered Eren’s meal because she felt like eating burgers that day.
Out of Giveaways
But then the server, with a sad face (as far as I can tell as we were all masked up), told us that in yesterday’s opening day they were deluged by tons of SnK fan customers, so they ran out of the giveaway plastic sleeves, as well as the monaka wafers with the Scouts’ emblem or titans printed on them, to decorate the top of the dish.
Gaaaah! I was so disappointed I nearly cried! I came all the way here to not get a plastic sleeve?!? How can you do this to me, I wailed. No, actually, I didn’t, I just calmly told him how awfully disappointing that was as obviously I’m a fan of the manga and wanted to get my hands on the giveaway. He said if I’d give him my name and phone number, he’ll keep two sleeves for me and I can come pick them up the following week. The restaurant already ordered a new batch from wherever the sleeves come from, he informed us, and they should arrive by Monday.
From the tables around us I overheard the servers explaining the same thing to other disappointed customers. That means I won’t be the only one trudging back to the restaurant in the days to come just to obtain the giveaway.
Obviously Dohtonbori underestimated the power of SnK fans to come out of the woodwork in droves and devour whatever official collab the creators come up with. These days it’s all about Kimetsu no Yaiba and Jujutsu Kaisen, so SnK is comparatively under the radar in Japan. But never forget there was a period some years ago when SnK was *the* big hotshot anime, overshadowing every other show out there. The fandom runs deep, and because they’re no longer students, have acquired buying power. Next time get your shit together, collaborators!
How to Cook
The giveaway thing being settled, we ordered our meals and mine arrived first.
Forgot to take a video of me cooking it, but here’s an official video how-to, which is basically how I fried it.
I split my meal into two so that my colleague and I could share. As for the taste… well, to be honest, it tasted okay, like any ordinary scrambled eggs with ketchup rice. Not particularly delicious, but not bad-tasting either.
Next was Eren’s burger dish:
My colleague somewhat messed up the cooking, because she was too engrossed in her in-depth analysis of Jujutsu Kaisen’s 領域展開 ryouiki tenkai “domain expansion” skill, ahaha! This official how-to-cook video is how you’re supposed to do it.
Regarding taste, well, again, it tasted like ordinary okonomiyaki with a burger patty on top.
For the month of February I worked from home four days a week, and went to the office once a week on Wednesdays. On my way home from work I made a detour for the Dohtonbori restaurant. My colleague told me I could have her folder, under the condition that when we go to a Jujutsu Kaisen event and I get a Mahito or Gojo Satoru goodie then I’ll hand it over to her. I immediately agreed, of course, because while I love those two characters my Jujutsu stan is Fushiguro Megumi 😀
Anyway, I went to the restaurant, got my mystery package, went home and with a pounding heart slowly opened them, praying there was one Jean in there. The giveaways are distributed randomly and the silver wrapper which they come in are completely opaque. There was simply no way for me or the restaurant staff to know which one was in there.
Guess what? I ended up with two Eren sleeves! Two! Can you believe my bad luck? Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Eren to bits, as you can see from the fanfics I write about him. But two of him? What’ll I do with two Erens?
Fortunately, a cousin of mine who lives in northern Japan texted on the 20th that she’d gone to her nearest Dohtonbori in hopes of getting Eren or Levi but ended up with Mikasa instead. Would I be willing to trade with her in case I get one of them? Of course, I promised.
So I mailed her this hottie:
That means I had one Eren left. As much as I adore this dude, I really, really wanted a Jean sleeve so I searched on Instagram and found a girl in the western side of the country who was even more unfortunate than I am. She really, really wanted Levi so she ordered four, yes, FOUR Dohtonbori meals in hopes of getting his giveaway. To her incredible disappointment she got three, yes, THREE Jeans and one Mikasa. Can you believe it? Poor, poor girl!
Contacting her on Instagram, I explained that Jean is my
reason for living favourite character so could she please trade one of hers with my Eren? Thankfully, she quickly agreed, may the manga gods bless her heart!
She even sent me this gorgeous Jean postcard along with the plastic sleeve. Go ahead, zoom in on his face. Isn’t he adorable? It’s such a Jean-ish expression it was love at first sight!
I was so elated I grinned like a Cheshire cat when I found it in the mail. Ah, the kindness of strangers❤❤❤ I promptly framed the postcard, of course. I think it’s going to be displayed in my room for a long time 😀
Soooo, after my trades, I finally have these two:
Jeankasa! Or, as we say in Japan, ジャンミカ jeanmika. Ah, love them, they look absolutely gorgeous together! No matter what happens in canon, I’ll always think they’d make a great couple.
Speaking of which, have you read my Jean x Mikasa novela? No? Go read right now!
Only There for the Giveaway
This ends my Dohtonbori okonomiyaki adventure. I’d have gladly ordered more meals if only there was a guarantee I’d get one of each of the characters, but given the randomness of the giveaway I simply didn’t want to risk getting more of the same. This time I was lucky enough to find someone to trade with and got a hold of our precious Jean, but I’m not going to push my luck.
Levi’s sleeve, needless to say, is the most coveted, and the girl who traded her Jean with my Eren said she found Levi’s being auctioned off for up to 5000 JPY apiece. Fifty dollars for a plastic file folder?!? Goodness gracious! Our darling captain’s popularity in Japan is still sky-high, it seems xD
As for me, I’m ecstatic about having a Jean sleeve. It’s plastic, but it’s a practical little thing and I’ll use it forever and make sure it never becomes waste clogging the oceans and killing marine creatures.
Thank you so much for reading! Please take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment section below. Your comments give me life and are a real source of encouragement. xoxo – hana
If you’re in Japan and haven’t gone to a Dohtonbori yet but are planning to, make sure to check the list of participating stores. The chain of restaurants has around 280 branches across the country but not all of them are offering the SnK menu. Also, while the campaign goes on until March 21st, it’s an “offer valid while supplies last” type of event, so it’s possible they’ll run out of the plastic sleeves for good. Perhaps it’s better to ask first before being seated.
There’s also an official online shop selling pinback buttons, acrylic printed dolls, as well as frozen okonomiyaki. You can make reservations (paid in advance) until March 21st, and the product(s) will be shipped in May.