I arrived in London from Osaka in 1998 with no money and only one suitcase. I had no family here, no friends and no English, but was unafraid and wanted to experience a different culture.
I grew up in Hirano, which is real down-town Osaka. Osakan people love chatting, they are noisy and dynamic, but are also sentimental with warm hearts. My mum was a great cook and when I was younger we had parties at home. There was always lots of eating, sake, singing and laughing. I began enjoying cooking food for the many nice people I met here in London and I quickly realised that cooking became my language.
20 years ago Londoners used to only ask for Sushi. Osaka is the kitchen of Japan and an ambition started to grow within me to introduce down to earth Osakan food (like the food I grew up with) to the rest of Europe!
I opened a stall on Brick Lane and found a small kitchen in a jazz club in Camberwell, where I started to serve proper Osakan Okonomiyaki. A few years later I opened Okan with the idea to take that further and create a little bit of Osaka in London.
At Okan we run a 0% waste policy, even cabbage stork can make very nice ramen stock! We are not chefs, just passionate about home cooking. Food can make people happy!
Okan means mum in Osakan slang
But we use Okan with love