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Japanese Food - Okonomiyaki



Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake and  made from vegetables, meat, seafood, and other ingredients, cooked on a griddle with flour-based batter and served with special sauce. Okonomiyaki has two major style, it's Kansai and Hiroshima style.

Kansai style okonomiyaki is prepared by pre-mixing the ingredients and batter, together before cooking, while Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki is made by cooking the batter and ingredients in layers without mixing them on the griddle. Besides these two popular versions, similar dishes are found in other areas throughout the country.

History of Okonomiyaki

The root of okonomiyaki goes back to Sen no Rikyu, a master of chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony). It is said that at a tea ceremony he hosted, Sen no Rikyu served a cake called Fu no Yaki, which was made by mixing flour with water, roasting the flour mixture, and spreading the mixture thin on the pot to cook. The cooked cakes were served with pepper seasoned miso paste.

In the prewar period in Osaka, a snack called Yoshokuyaki was once very popular among locals. Yoshokuyaki was made by spreading a flour-water batter in a circle on a griddle and topping it with negi onions and tenkasu. After the war, the method of cooking gradually changed, and mixing the batter with vegetables and seafood before cooking became common. People started calling the snack okonomiyaki, as it can be cooked with any favorite (konomi) ingredients.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the origin of Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is a snack called Issen-yoshoku, which was sold at Dagashiya candy stores. Issen - yoshoku was a crape like snack made from a thin batter and was served by folding the crape in half with such ingredients as bonito powder, green onion, and tororo konbu kelp inside and Worcestershire sauce poured on top. This half-folded style is still common today for okonomiyaki sold at the deli of supermarkets in Hiroshima.


Okonomiyaki Nowadays

Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is difficult to cook because it is generally made by layering a heap of chopped cabbage and noodles other ingredients on the pancake. Therefore, at most Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki Restaurants, cooks prepare the pancake for customers. 

On the other hand, Kansai-style okonomiyaki are cooked by mixing all ingredients together. Therefore, many restaurants that serving them, often allow customers to cook their own foods on the griddle at the table. However, if you don't feel comfortable cooking by yourself, you can ask them to servers if they can prepare the dish for you instead.
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