Episode 27: Okonomi + Japanese Breakfast

Photo credit: Okonomi

JT Vuong and George Padilla of YUJI Ramen are back by popular demand! But this time, Lynda and Iris talk to JT and George about Japanese breakfast and the Okonomi side of what they do, in another installment of our #FMWAsianBreakfast Series. 

The episode starts with our reflections on how fast time flies, as well as the delicious things we ate and drank over the last week. Can you believe that it's already the last episode of our summer season?!

We then introduce our guests JT Vuong and George Padilla of Okonomi/YUJI Ramen in Williamsburg. They previously joined us on Episode 9 to talk about the YUJI Ramen side of what they do, but as the restaurant serves traditional Japanese ichiju-sansai set meals for breakfast and lunch by day, they were the perfect folks to talk about breakfast in Japan. 

First, Iris asks George and JT about what they ate for breakfast growing up. As George is first generation Filipino American and JT is Taiwanese American, they talk about the rice, protein, and veggies they ate, but with a lot of sugary cereals thrown in the mix too, of course.

JT shares some typical breakfast foods that are eaten in Japan. George explains what a ichiju-sansai set meal is, and what Okonomi usually serves, as well as the background story of Okonomi/YUJI Ramen and how that led to this format for breakfast and lunch. They also talk about their personal favorite iterations of these set meals, and why local bluefish is great.

Lynda asks what Okonomi means and JT explains how the original concept for the restaurant changed and why the name is a little ironic. George then talks about some useful Japanese terms to know when it comes to Japanese breakfast, though he feels it's not necessary to understand the language at all to appreciate Japanese food.

We then discuss the major difference between Asian and Western breakfast, and why maybe the difference in palates is why Asian breakfast in underrepresented in the US.

Finally, the guys tell us what's next for Okonomi and YUJI Ramen, but more importantly, take a moment to just appreciate the present.

"The epitome of a good dining situation is that, on all sides, people care about or appreciate what the other side is doing for them. Which is nice." - JT Vuong on the beauty of the restaurant business.

And that's a wrap for Feast Meets West's second season on Heritage Radio Network! We can’t wait to do it all again in the fall. We’ll be taking a short break, so you won’t see any new episodes for a few weeks, but you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or sign up for our mailing list for more content and updates!