Okonomiyaki – Hiroshima’s local dish

We had heard about Hiroshima’s speciality pancake dish, Okonomiyaki, and we really wanted to try it.

The name Okonomiyaki means what you like (‘okonom’), cooked (‘yaki’ as in yakitori or teppanyaki).

Okonomiyaki consists of a pancake base cooked on a hotplate, topped with layers of fried cabbage, egg noodles, thinly-sliced belly pork, bean sprouts, with an egg, with a sweet-savoury sauce drizzled over the top.

We looked at a number of restaurants and asked a couple of waiters but no one seemed to have Okonomiyaki on the menu. We started to wonder if it must be a fast food or street food eat, as we couldn’t find it anywhere. After asking for recommendations, we kept hearing the same name, Fumichan Nagarekawaten, and we finally managed to find this backstreet restaurant with the help of some passers-by.

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It didn’t look much at all from the outside. We stuck our heads under the red curtains over the door and were greeted by a theatrical show of furious Okonomiyaki frying over a ginormous metal hot plate which doubled up as the bar, with Hiroshima businessmen perched on the front row seats.

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Even though the menu was limited to Okonomiyaki, there were lots of options to add different fillings and toppings, or to choose soba or udon noodles. We all went for the thin soba noodles. I ordered a leek topping and Phil went for cheese and kimchi, which turned out to be the winning combination.

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It was great fun to see the layers and layers being added to the hot plate and fried together, before they were flipped over to fully cook.

In true Hiroshima-style, the pancakes were cut in a grid to form small bite-size chunks – handy for eating it with chopsticks! Okonomiyaki is also found in Osaka, where it is cut into pizza slices and all the ingredients are mixed together, rather than layered.

Okonomiyaki is a carb-heavy comfort food feast. Whilst it’s not to everyone’s taste, we loved it and can’t wait to try and make our own when we get home. If only it was on the menu at Wagamama’s!

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