What is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki お好み焼き is one of Japan’s best-known dishes and is normally associated with the Kansai and Hiroshima regions of the country.

The Kansai version is probably best known throughout Japan and Osaka residents take great pride in claiming this dish as their own. There tends to be a great deal of regional pride when it comes to food in Japan and I have heard more than one Osaka-jin (person from Osaka) get rather territorial when someone suggests that Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki may be superior. “Them’s be fightin’ words!” one might say.

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Okonomiyaki is often referred to as a savoury pancake although I personally find the only similarity between it and a pancake is the fact that they’re both flat.

The toppings, sauces and type of batter used to make this dish varies greatly throughout Japan and even within an area such as Kansai, there are many variations and even new fusion styles.

Osaka-style okonomiyaki has a batter that is typically made from a type of yam called “nagaimo”, dashi or water, flour, shredded cabbage, green onions, with strips of pork belly on top. The dish is grilled on both sides until cooked through. It is normally served with okonomiyaki sauce on top (a thick sweet brown sauce), aonori (seaweed flakes) and katsuoboshi (bonito flakes). Mayonnaise and ginger may also be added on top. Sometimes shrimp or octopus can be added to the batter.

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My wife who is from Osaka tends to make her homemade okonomiyaki like I described above. Sometimes she uses both shrimp and pork when preparing the dish.

Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki uses many similar ingredients, but instead of being mixed together before cooking they are layered. Sometimes noodles as well as a fried egg are used as toppings.

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I took this photo at the famous “Okonomi-mura” in Hiroshima, Japan. It’s essentially an entire building filled with Okonomiyaki restaurants!

Okonomiyaki restaurants are plentiful throughout Japan and often they have their own twists on the dish. Most Japanese families prepare it at home as well as a common lunch or dinner. Many Japanese people comment that they like to make it because it is a relatively straightforward dish to prepare and doesn’t take a lot of effort.

If you ever have the chance to try okonomiyaki you definitely should. Those in Osaka often refer to this dish with great pride and you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

 

The writer:

Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast as well as the Just Japan News Podcast. He is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.

Follow him on Twitter: @jlandkev

Email: justjapanpodcast@gmail.com

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5 comments

  1. Not nice, Kevin. It’s late at night and my tummy’s rumblin’ and now I have to read your post about the best food in the land! (I heard on a documentary the other day that it is referred to as a Japancake – get it? Japan + pancake? – among some English speakers.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was the first food/dish that I fell in love with in Japan. Every time I go back it is on my list….but then again so many things are.
    I remember eating it in Osaka, near Den Den town. It was part of the Namba City complex, but a couple of shops down was the exit that put me on the corner of that great electronic area. I think it was called Torianse…..

    Liked by 1 person

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