Okonomiyaki: The Savory Japanese Pancake You Need in Your Life

What is okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki is the food you never knew you needed. If a pancake and a pizza and a Spanish tortilla had a baby, this would be it. Okonomiyaki has a savory flavor and a fluffy texture, so you can imagine it’s hard to resist. It’s pretty much the perfect Japanese comfort food. And, paired with an icy cold Japanese beer (lookin’ at you, Asahi), it’s pretty much the perfect meal. I had never heard of okonomiyaki before planning my trip to Japan, so I want to enlighten those who are currently in the dark about this important matter. Learn more about the steps for making okonomiyaki here.

There are many different types of okonomiyaki. You can basically add anything to the pancakey base: beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, calamari, scallops, vegetables. Then it all gets topped off with a variety of condiments, including Japanese mayonnaise and Katsuobushi, which are dried, paper-thin bonito flakes (I know this sounds weird but just go with it – it’s good ).  Our favorite okonomiyaki was the “deluxe,” which basically included all of the aforementioned ingredients.

Pepe ready to devour a “deluxe” okonomiyaki in Osaka

How is it cooked?

Okonomoyaki is cooked on a teppan, or an iron griddle, as seen above. There are a variety of ways to eat an okonomiyaki pancake at a restaurant: the chef can prepare the dish on the teppan in front of you at the counter, you can prepare it yourself on the teppan built into your table, or the server can bring it out and keep it warm for you on the teppan.  We did the last option. Once the okonomiyaki is sitting in front of you, you cut it into sections and enjoy!

Where is it commonly eaten?

Okonomiyaki is particularly popular in the cities of Hiroshima and Osaka.  We enjoyed ours at a restaurant in the Dotonbori area of Osaka. We were ravenously searching for okonomiyaki and struck gold when we found these two signs: “okonomiyaki” and “English menu.” Here’s a pic of the restaurant (too bad I have no idea what the place is called, since the name was in Japanese and I was too hungry to figure out the English name, haha):

Okonomiyaki restaurant in Osaka

My experience with okonomiyaki in Japan led me to ask an important question: Why isn’t the dish more popular in the States? My friends love Japanese food and Asian fusion cuisine in general, so I see no reason why this dish wouldn’t be a hit in the US. American restauranteurs and entrepreneurs out there – get goin’.

PS – Good luck even remembering the name okonomiyaki after reading this post, and even better luck trying to pronounce it or spell it correctly.

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