Article updated on May 11, 2020
Text & photos: Claire Lessiau
Literally, okonomi means “how you like it” and yaki, “fried”, otherwise known as the Japanese savory pancake: a delicious and cheap food served with no frills, around a hot griddle with toppings ranging from meat to vegetables or seafood.
If you like… hearty & savory pancakes,
…you will love okonomiyakis!
If okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) can be found all over Japan, it is one of Hiroshima’s specialties. So once there, around lunch time, walk to Okonomi-mura, one of the most popular food courts in the country. You will not find anything fancy there, but dozens of counters set up around a hot griddle occupying the three levels of the building. Patrons sit around the teppan, or hot iron table, and order.
A typical experience
The cook displays meticulous, fast, and sure gestures witnessing years of experience. He starts by shaping a thin disc on the griddle with the wheat-flour-based batter. He tops it with green cabbage, soy, spring onions, herbs, and pork meat – based on the toppings ordered such as vegetables, octopus, squid, or shrimp. After preparing another bowl of batter, another cook grills udon noodles on the side before adding them on top of the pancake. An egg is fried and suddenly, the pancake is skillfully flipped over to land on top of the egg, before being flipped over again with the help of two metal spatulas: the egg is now the top cover. A delicious sweet sauce is spread on top for the finishing touch, before the okonomiyaki is sliced with the spatulas, and pushed away from the griddle to be served. Delicious!
If you do not make it to Hiroshima, the okonomiyaki ordered elsewhere will most likely be Osaka-style, the other savory pancake hot spot! The main difference is that in the Hiroshima-style, toppings are layered while they are mixed with the batter in the Osaka-style okonomiyaki.
Where to have okonomiyaki in Japan: As described in this article, Okonomi-mura in Hiroshima is THE place for okonomiyaki. Once there, browse the stalls: a crowded shop is always a good sign!
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4 thoughts on “Japan food series – Okonomiyaki [savory pancakes]”
Perfection! we are planning a trip to Japan this fall, will definitely read more of your very interesting posts 🙂
Thanks! Japan in the fall must be great!! It is an amazing country which has so much to offer, good luck preparing your trip and feel free to comment when you have questions about a specific post! 😄
Will do, thanks a lot 🙂
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