food travel

Japan: Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake. The name is derived from the word okonomi meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked”.  It is extremely popular in Osaka.

I had the pleasure of trying Kuro-Chan’s okonomiyaki during my first trip.  His shop is a hole in the wall in a residential area, and extremely hard to find.

I think Kuro-Chan’s okonomiyaki is Hiroshima-style, where the ingredients are layered rather than mixed.  The layers are typically batter, (lots of) cabbage, pork, and optional items such as squid, octopus, and cheese. Noodles (yakisoba or udon) are also used as a topping.  Finally, finish with the brown okonomiyaki sauce, aonori (powdered seaweed) and Kewpie mayo!

Address: 2 Chome-14-10 Nakamichi Higashinari-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 537-0025

okonomiyaki (1 of 9) okonomiyaki (2 of 9) okonomiyaki (3 of 9) okonomiyaki (4 of 9) okonomiyaki (5 of 9)

More recently, I tried Muzuno’s okonomiyaki.  It is located near the main Dotonburi street, and is very popular.  The okonomiyaki was very different from Kuro-chan’s in that it did not seem to have noodles — this is known as the Kansai/Osaka-style okonomiyaki, and is the more popular version of the dish.  The batter is made from flour, grated nagaimo (yam), dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage.  Other ingredients such as green onion, meat, octopus, squid, shrimp, vegetables, mochi or cheese can be added.

Address: 1-4-15 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osakaokonomiyaki (6 of 9) okonomiyaki (7 of 9) okonomiyaki (8 of 9)

Hungry Cactus’s verdict: B+

Okonomiyaki is a must try, though not as satisfying as a complete meal like a bowl of ramen.   With a wide variety of toppings and flavors,  it keeps the dish interesting and personal.  I think I like Kuro-Chan (Hiroshima-styled) more than Muzuno’s.