When you think of Japanese food, you think: sushi. Sushi, again. Sashimi. Teriyaki. Yakitori, if you’re fancy? One dish that isn’t as common, as least in my experience in the States: Okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki can be explained as, depending on the style, an eggy pancake with add-ins in the batter, like an omelet or a frittata; or it can be Hiroshima style in that it’s a layered crepe.
Between the two of us, we ate five okonomiyakis of multiple styles in Kyoto and Hiroshima. Only while eating the last one did we realize that these filling meals can be easily split between two people. And they’re reasonably priced at around $8-$15, depending on what kind of filling you request (like chicken, squid, scallops, pork or whatever else is offered.)
At the Hiroshima train station, we stopped by the ticket counter to get our reserved seats to Shimonoseki (where we would catch the ferry to South Korea) and grabbed lunch at an okonomiyaki restaurant. One of the chefs behind the counter was lovely enough to allow me to take pictures of him preparing a Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki:
Preparing Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki
First, the chef makes a thin crepe, then piles on cabbage, bean sprouts, some seasoning (bonito flakes?) and what looks like fried bits. I had to Google what these fried bits were: Judging from justonecookbook.com, they look like tempura scraps.
Then, the chef layers pork, which looks like thicker, leaner bacon. The heat cooks down the veggies and pork. The chef adds another crepe, and pushes down the pile to a flatter layer.
Offside, an egg and some noodles (udon or soba) are fried (separately) and added as another layer. On top, a sauce kind of like teriyaki is added, then served. You can add more sauce or a smattering of mayo on top.
If you live in the DC-area and interested in trying okonomiyaki, The Washington Post published an 2013 article about DC-area restaurants serving okonomiyaki at Teaism and others. I’d be curious to hear if anyone has tried them. The Post also included a recipe for making okonomiyaki at home.