Okonomiyaki is a word I would remember well after coming to Hiroshima in Japan.
Ever heard of it? I hadn’t, until arriving there myself and hearing that it was the one thing I must try. It is a savoury Japanese pancake and comes mostly from the Hiroshima and the Osaka regions, although is available across Japan.
The name okonomiyaki basically means “as you like it on the grill”, and it is a very popular street food dish.
It’s regarded as Japanese soul food and is delicious.
Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima
The first thing you need to know is that there are many different varieties of okonomiyaki out there. I visited a famous okonomiyaki building in Hiroshima called okonomimura that has three floors of around 25 different eateries.
Each of those eateries specialise in their own version.
You sit around a large grill with other customers and place your order of what you want (or in my case just pointing to the persons food next to me as I couldn’t read the menu), and then watch them cook it up from scratch.
The chefs are masters at their trade, cooking many dishes at a time.
They start with frying up noodles, cabbage and some batter, which are then layered on top of each other. Next they add some pork and vegetables, or other toppings if you want, such as squid and octopus.
At this point they are left for a while for all the ingredients to cook together, before some eggs are fried up and placed on top.
Now a layer of sweet tasty sauce is spread over it all (kind of soy tasting but sweeter).
Then some final touches, and you have the scrumptious finished dish, ready to be devoured.
Part of the fun with this whole eating experience isn’t just the sitting around watching the whole process, but also the social ambience that goes along with it.
You get to eat it on the grill with a small metal spatula.
The Japanese and foreigners alike love this dish (although I can’t speak for everyone of course). After I first ate it I would always perk up when it was mentioned by someone else as a possible dinner.
If you ever make it to Japan someday, which I hope you will, then remember to try this food.
If you are lucky enough there may be an okonomiyaki restaurant near you!
If you like Japanese food check out my post on 10 traditional Japanese foods you should to try.