Okonomi お好み means “what you like”
Yaki焼き means “grilled”
To combine the two means “grilled what you like”. This means that whatever you wish to have in it you can and put them to grill or cook with the flour. The flour is the key here.
Kansai Top Food
Okonomiyaki is the top food in the Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara & Kobe area is called Kansai )and if you are traveling to Japan, you should try out Okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki is not an omelette
Okonomiyaki looks like an omelette but it does not taste like one. The ingredients are pretty simple and versatile, just add in anything you like and mixed with flour. The common ingredients are cabbage, seafood, bacon, pork, chicken, cheese, etc and mixed them with flour.
Okonomiyaki is not a pancake
Many people call Okonomiyaki pancake but it is not sweet at all. It is not a dessert. Okonomiyaki is a meal to make you full.
Cook It yourself Dish
Okonomiyaki usually serves in a specialized restaurant and you will be seated with the dining table that is equipped with an iron griddle (“teppan”). Some restaurants will provide the ingredients and customer to cook the meal themselves. Some will help you cook. It depends.
It is quite fun to cook the okonomiyaki yourself. Check out the steps as follow:
- You will be given with a bowl full of fresh uncooked ingredients.
- Mixed all the ingredients in the bowl together with the flour.
- Pour the mixture onto the “teppan” /the hot plate on the table and make sure the heat is strong enough.
- After one side is cooked, try turning to the other side by using the metal spatulas. This can be quite hard as you may destroy the beautiful artwork when turning.
- When the okonomiyaki is almost cooked, brush the brown okonomiyaki sauce on top.
- Then squeeze some mayonnaise zig-zagging or any pattern you like. Some people draw pictures with the mayonnaise sauce. Do what you like.
- Top it with bonito flakes. You will notice the bonito flakes moving because of the heat.
- Sprinkle with aonori /a dried seaweed
- Use the metal spatulas to cut the okonomiyaki into the portion you want
- Enjoy your okonomiyaki.
Osaka vs Hiroshima Okonomiyaki
When you are in Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara & Kobe) you have to try Okonomiyaki as it is the top food here. In Hiroshima, they have their own version of Okonomiyaki too. The difference is the Hiroshima-style always includes noodles (either yakisoba or udon) and a fried egg in the okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki gets popular during the war when rice became scarce and people had to be creative in using other more readily available ingredients such as flour. They would mix everything together and pan-fried with flour. Of course, people eat it with all sort of vegetables during the war when meat is not available. Now all sort of fancy stuff is added in, such as bacon, sausages, meat, seafood etc.
Okonomiyaki is cheap
The total bill for this meal cost 1695yen (USD 15.20) which include two okonomiyaki and kyoza (Japanese dumpling) set and rice. This is two orders (2 sets menu) for three people. It comes with rice and miso soup and salad. We could not even finish the rice provided. If you split the bill, one person only cost USD5.00 to have a meal, very cheap.
Spotted a palmistry machine on the table, you only need 100 yen (USD 0.90) to know your fate.
Parking is free
The good thing about the family restaurant in Japan is parking is always free and plenty of parking lots in front of the restaurant.
If you are traveling to Osaka (Kansai Region) and Hiroshima, Okonomiyaki is one of the top food you need to try here. Drive into any one of the Okonomiyaki restaurants you encounter along your way, it is super cheap and delicious, parking is free too. Most importantly you will have so much fun playing with your food as it is DIY, cook it yourself at the teppan hot plate table. Kids will enjoy this experience I can assure you that.