Most people who have been to Japan have encountered Japan’s savoury pancake known as okonomiyaki. However, once you try it, you’ll realize just how different from a typical pancake it really is. The name of this dish literally means “bake it how you like it”, which makes describing it exactly a challenge. In general, okonomiyaki is a pan-friend dish using batter and cabbage as main ingredients. Beyond that, the rest is up to you, as the name implies. Okonomiyaki dishes may include meat, seafood, cheese, and much more.
Cooking Okonomiyaki Yourself at Japanese Restaurants
If you visit an okonomiyaki restaurant in Japan, you’ll realize just how seemingly limitless the possibilities are. The menus are usually a long list of toppings and ingredients. At many okonomiyaki restaurants, customers sit around a large griddle, or teppan, and receive batter, cabbage and spatulas to make their own okonomiyaki with the fresh ingredients they ordered.
To start making your own okonomiyaki, you need to mix the ingredients and batter together thoroughly. Once everything is evenly distributed, pour the mixture onto the hot surface after spreading out some oil. Then, like regular pancakes, wait until one side is cooked then flip it over with spatulas. Once both sides of the okonomiyaki are ready, you may add a layer of okonomiyaki sauce followed by some mayonnaise, katsuobushi bonito flakes, and dried seaweed flakes. Then your okonomiyaki is ready to divide up and share with your fellow diners!
How is Kyoto Okonomiyaki Different?
It’s no surprise that this dish, originally from Osaka, received a Kyoto twist. More omelet than pancake, Kyoto’s okonomiyaki is made with a wheat flour-based batter and is cooked like a thin crepe on a hot plate. Then they add chopped scallions, egg and slices of pork, or a variety of other ingredients. The fluffy crepe-like okonomiyaki is then folded over and cooked a bit more. Finally, the Kyoto-style okonomiyaki is garnished with lots of sauce and strips dried seaweed.
Okonomiyaki Restaurant in Kyoto’s Gion District
The restaurant Isshen Yoshoku in Kyoto’s Gion district serves only one dish, and that dish is also called isshen yoshoku. The owner started this restaurant to offer a cheap food option near the Gion area. The whole okonomiyaki restaurant is decorated with funny statues, slightly inappropriate woodblock prints and mannequins wearing kimonos. According to the owner the kimono ladies are there to trick drunk men to come inside for a late night bite. After eating your okonomiyaki you can get a commemorative stamp to add to your travel journal.
Address: 238 Giommachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto 605-0073
Hours: 11am – 3am (Weekdays), 10:30am – 10pm (Sundays and Holidays)
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From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITER ｜ ABOUT WATTENTION NINJA