Japan is a country with one of the richest cuisines in the world, with endless dishes to choose from. One of the most famous in the Japanese archipelago is the “Okonomiyaki” of Hiroshima.
The word “Okonomiyaki” derives from the word “okonomi”, which means “what you like” or “what you want,” and “yaki” means “grilled” or “cooked.” It is a kind of tasty pancake, filled with vegetables, seafood, meat and adored by the locals.
To make Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, a small, thin pancake is roasted, then various ingredients are layered, starting with a large amount of shredded cabbage, and then others are added, also in layers. The pancake is then flipped over fried eggs on one or both sides, before serving. The Hiroshima style usually includes fried noodles.
The history of okonomiyaki is over 70 years old. After the Second World War, many street stalls in Okonomiyaki were on the ground due to fires caused by the atomic bomb. Okonomiyaki, which was made from a small dough of flour and some vegetables, helped the people of Hiroshima at the time of food shortages.
When going to a restaurant specialized in Okonomiyaki, the customer chooses the ingredients he would like to eat. There is a wide variety of combinations, so it may take a while to choose, but surely any of the dishes will be very delicious.
After ordering, the chef cooks the okonomiyaki in front of the customer. First, pour a thin dough of flour to create a small circle. Then pour in a handful of sliced cabbage, bean sprouts, and thinly sliced pork, followed by other toppings. This is allowed to cook while the chef begins to fry the noodles on the side. When the noodles are ready, the chef arranges the noodles on the okonomiyaki. Finally, a fried egg completes the layers and the entire okonomiyaki is placed in front of the diner.
Once the okonomiyaki is served to the customer, the customer can add various seasonings to it. The most popular combination is brown okonomiyaki sauce, seaweed flakes, and mayonnaise. In Hiroshima, the tradition is to use a metal spatula to cut and eat the okonomiyaki, directly. But there really is no problem if you decide to eat with chopsticks and a plate.
Hiroshima is full of okonomiyaki restaurants. If this is your first time visiting the place, it can be a bit confusing. Therefore, it is recommended to go to “Okonomimura” (whose name means “The village of Okonomiyaki”) which houses more than twenty specialized restaurants. Each tent seats about ten people, with two or three cooks working hard to please customers. The people of Hiroshima are known for their kindness and the cooks are also very attentive. The experience provides customers with delicious Hiroshima-style food, warm conversation, and an intimate experience that can be quite rare in Japan.
Okonomiyaki is really tasty. If you travel to Hiroshima on the itinerary, you cannot miss the feeling of trying this exquisite dish.