Okonomiyaki: Hiroshima Cuisine

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Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima, Japan, Food, Culture, pancake, local cuisine, travel

Okonomiyaki

Okonomi What?

The name is a little hard to pronounce, but I can attest that Okonomiyaki is delicious! Some refer to it as a pancake, but it’s a lot more than that. Okonomiyaki is what we would call the “Kitchen sink” in the US. It has several layers of deliciousness. As most dishes in Japan, every region has made it their own and one of the fun culinary things to do while visiting Japan is to eat the same dish in different areas and compare its deliciousness factor.

I tried Okonomiyaki in Hiroshima after watching a mouth watering video of how it is made. I was originally planning to trek out to Okonomiyaki mall- yes 2-3 floors of nothing but Okonomiyaki vendors, that is how serious this dish is in Hiroshima- however, I was starting to feel the exhaustion from almost 10 days traveling and carrying a backpack everyday, so I took the easy way out and asked the tourist office at the Hiroshima train station where I could find the best Okonomiyaki nearby. The lady smiled and said downstairs. By downstairs, she meant in the food court of a large department store that served a variety of food. Just to clarify, department stores (basements) and train stations in Japan have some of the best places to grab a quick meal or food on the go, from fresh groceries to a complete meal (bentos).

I took the escalator down to the basement and started seeing all the hot grills and different places to try Okonomiyaki. I chose a place that allowed patrons to eat right at the grill, the old school way. If you are not too keen on that, you can also eat it on a plate.

After watching my food being made, the cook, slid this perfect concoction in front of me and handed me a mini spatula. To say I was happy like a chubby kid in a candy store is an understatement.

So what’s in the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki?

Although you can get almost any ingredient incorporated into your Okonomiyaki, I ordered the Original, which includes pancake, cabbage, bacon, noodles and egg. Once all those ingridients are perfectly stacked on top of each other, the whole thing is then slathered in mystery sauce (no idea what’s in it), and topped with fish flakes and scallions. Japanese mayo is also available tableside and it might sound weird, but it’s amazing! In fact, the Japanese have a love affair with mayo (the Japanese type), they use it in a lot of dishes.

So that is what makes up the basic Hiroshima Okonomiyaki. You can, of course, add different types of meat to it.

If you are intrigued by this dish you actually don’t have to go to Hiroshima. A version of it is available in major tourist cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. It’s even available in the US in some Japanese restaurants.

Have you eaten Okonomiyaki? What did you think of it?

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