Every cultural cuisine has their version of the “pizza” a flat piece of regional bread, like the Mexican tostada with its crispy tortilla topped with refried beans, cheese, meat and various other condiments. Well the Japanese have their favorite “pizza” like fast street food. With an ingredient list that encompasses everything but the kitchen sink, the okonomiyaki is a pancake-omelette filled with your choice of meat or seafood, bean sprouts, various other veggies, nori (seaweed) and topped with okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, scallions, and possibly bonito flakes. Oh…and each city has a special variation, in Hiroshima they add yakisoba noodles to the ever growing patty of deliciousness.
You can find okonomiyaki all over the city, on street corners, or in dedicated okonomiyaki bars. Look for the lanterns that have the symbols in the picture or just follow your nose. Most okonomiyaki bars are small inside like Rokutsuboya in the Naka-ku district where you can share a view of the giant grill with fellow travelers, business men and locals alike.
If large enough, many okonomiyaki bars will have seats where you can make your own savory concoction. Be careful the flip is the most important part, hopefully you don’t shower your buddy with hot egg and meaty bits. Eww!
The bustling city of Hiroshima wouldn’t be the same with out this fast food staple. You can find okonomiyaki all over Japan but Hiroshima has a style all its own. In Osaka and other parts of Japan the chefs mix all the ingredients into a batter then fry both sides on a large grill and top with all the delicious toppings. In Hiroshima, the batter is cooked first into a “pancake” then all the other toppings are added layer by layer until it is flipped onto some fried eggs then covered in all the sauces you can take. Is your mouth watering as much as mine? Its rare to find this dish, in any style, outside of Japan unless you plan to make it yourself. You cant miss this perfect late night (or anytime) treat!
Image: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons