When the little Japanese grocery called Maido! closed its original location in Narberth, cooks seeking a local store for kombu, hand-pounded mochi rice cakes, or a wide range of imported furikake rice seasonings went into withdrawal.
More important, Maido's lunch counter, known for homey rice bowls topped with chicken katsu in thick curry gravy and for tender gyu don beef stewed in sweet soy broth, was missed.
Well, Maido! reemerged in the fall in a bright new space in Ardmore.
And the lunch counter is more prominent than ever.
My favorite here is the okonomiyaki, the curiously complicated but delicious savory pancake streaked with a lattice of tangy dark sauce and Kewpie mayo, plus shaved bonito flakes that seemingly dance atop the surface in the pancake's heat, radiating a woody marine funk up to the diner's nose.
This classic street food, whose dashi-moistened batter is equal parts pancake and omelet, comes with myriad fillings that vary by region.
Maido's is the more common Kansai style, with nuggets of pork and shrimp, but also shredded cabbage, scallions, pickled red ginger, and grated nagaimo yam that lend the pancake, mixed and griddled right before you to order, a pliant tenderness and lingering vegetable savor.
- Craig LaBan