Japanese Delicacies: Seafood Pancakes (Okonomiyaki)

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When you’re out in the middle of Tokyo looking for a place to eat before a crazy robot-fighting show, there are just way too many options. We walked into a random place and found ourselves sitting at tables set up with chopsticks, variously sized scraping tools and a large hot plate in the middle. For just 1,200 JPY per person, we could eat as many Okonomiyaki as we could!

Just a few weeks ago I started writing about eating pancakes from around the world! First I wrote about Chinese za liang jian bing, then about Thai Roti and as soon as I found out about Japanese Okonomiyaki, I knew I had to try them. I just didn’t realize that I would stumble upon them on my first night in Tokyo!

Okonomiyaki can be made from a variety of ingredients varying from chicken and pork belly to cheese to a myriad of seafood including: tuna, squid, shrimp and octopus! At this particular restaurant, the waiters brought plates of chopped up ingredients right to our table, mixed them and prepared the pancakes right in front of us in the hotplate (called a “teppan”).

The batter is made out of flour, grated yam (nagaimo), water or dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage. The main ingredients vary and apparently can even include mochi! Once they are sufficiently fried, they are decorated with sauces: okonomiyaki (similar to Worcestershire) and mayonnaise. The final touch is a sprinkle of aonori (seaweed flakes) and katsuobushi (soked-tuna flakes).

This Japanese delicacy is traditionally from Kansai and Hiroshima, although today it can be enjoyed anywhere in Japan. We tried it in Tokyo, where it is smaller in size than in Southern Japan. Although Okonomiyaki is considered a pancake, it is frequently compared to an omelet or a Japanese pizza. This pancake is definitely more filling than it’s Chinese or Thai alternatives, but maybe that’s just because I ate so many at the all-you-can-eat restaurant!


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