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Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pizza)

The cover of a package I bought

Other people might call this a Japanese pancake. Either way it’s round and as most people cut it into pie like slices and since it’s more like a pizza in the ingredients department I think pizza is a better description.

Okonomiyaki is usually made from flour, water, eggs and cabbage. The cabbage is chopped and mixed with the eggs, water and flour. To this is added pretty much anything you want. Common things to add would be thinly sliced chopped pork, thinly sliced chopped beef, chopped onions, octopus, squid, mushrooms. Note, like pizza you’d usually pick one or two things to add. You mix it together to make a batter and then you pour it on a grill and let it cook like a pancake. When one side is done you flip it over and cook the other side. When it’s finished you turn off the heat or put it on a plate then you put okonomiyaki sauce on top and usually katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and mayonnaise. The katsuobushi is so thin that it waves in the heat coming off the freshly cooked okonomiyaki and so it looks like the top of your meal is crawling.

Here’s an actual recipe although it seems to be missing the katsuobushi. Here are some more pictures from a Japanese site.

At many okonomiyaki restaurants the grill is at your table and you make it yourself. They just bring you a bowl with the ingredients.

Bowl of ingredients

You can see the this bowl has corn and bacon in it. Making it yourself allows you to put as much of the extras as you like. The extras being sauce, katsuobushi and mayo. Of course it also means you might over or under cook it and do undercooked the batter might still be wet and overcooked it could be to dry or burnt.

Ready to eat

Here is a pretty standard finished okonomiyaki. Yummy!!!! The sauce is kind of similar to a teriyaki sauce being that it’s a little sweet.I can’t really imagine anybody not liking at least a beef or pork okonomiyaki maybe leaving the katsuobushi off if that scares you.

Cut like this it looks like pizza

After it’s finished it’s usually cut it up like this which I think is why most English speaking people would call it Japanese pizza.

Negi Okonomiyaki. The flakes on the top are katsuobushi

As I mentioned there you can put pretty much anything you want in Okonomiyaki. In fact I believe that Okonomi means "as you like" and I know that "yaki" means to cook on a grill or BBQ. The one above looks like it might be Negi Okonomiyaki. Negi means green onions.

Very small red fish eggs added to the batter

Just having been flipped, this one has small red fish eggs in it which probably burst as it cooks and end up coloring the batter redish.

The white things are mochi

Mochi sticks have been added to this one that has just started cooking. Mochi is made from rice and is often used almost like a cheese in some dishes. Here it will end up melting and have the texture of mozzarella cheese but of course a much lighter flavor. You can buy mochi in slices that look like white american cheese.

Check out this page for more good pictures and here is another good page

I don’t know any good places to get Okonomiyaki in the states. If you know of one please tell me. There is one place in Hawaii at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center called Chibo and is part of a chain that exists in Japan. In the LA/OC area I’ve only heard of about 3 restaurants that serve it and all of them really stink.


Monjayaki

One other thing that is often served at Okonomiyaki restaurants is Monjayaki

Eating Monjayaki

I would describe it as follows. Take cabbage and chop it very finely. Add some chopped meat or shellfish, some water and some spices. Mix it up, pour it on the grill and let it almost burn. Scrape the burnt parts out with a mini spatula and then eat those parts off the spatula. Repeat the scrape and eat parts until it’s all gone. I’m not really sure what the ingredients are and I have to say that the first time I had it, seeing it sit there on the grill it looked like somebody hurrled. Of course lots of things look like that before they are cooked but this one looks like that even while you are eating it.

It’s not bad at all. Imagine making a soup or a stew and scraping the residue from cooking it in a pot off the pot and eating it. Or if you cooked a casserole or a lasagna and scraped the overcooked edges of the pan. It would be concentrated and probably pretty good.

  • anon_Afrodylan

    You gotta try the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki.. comes on top of a wad of Yaki Soba.. even better!

  • anon_Naomi

    If you are near the Bay Area you should try “Izumiya” in Japantown, San Francisco.  They have the best okonomiyaki I have ever eaten(as good as the ones in Japan)!

  • http://blog.greggman.com anon_Larrybob
    Vancouver

    William Gibson says Okonomiyaki can be eaten at The Modern Club on Dunbar in Vancouver. http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_08_01_archive.asp

  • RageFury_Pravda

    In New York City, there is a hole-in-a-wall place on 8th Street near 2nd Avenue (Yes Manhattan) that serves Okonomiyaki, Kansai style alongside Takoyaki.  I believe the place is called Otakufu and each serving is…OH…$6 for 2.  Hardly the cheap snack like it was in Japan, but OH it’s SO good. 

  • TK
    Okonomi Yaki in New York

    That hole in the wall place is actually on 9th Street, not 8th, snuggled into the side of the Cloister Cafe. I was just there last night, and having never had Okonomi Yaki before, all I can say is it was really good. I don’t know how it measures up against other Okonomi Yaki, though. Now I need to try their Tako Yaki….

  • Walter
    San Francisco

    I must recomend Mifune Don in Japantown in San Francisco, CA. Very tasty, and we were so happy when we found a spot that didn’t look at us funny when we asked for it. On the other side of Japantown there is another place where the Okonomiyaki is not bad, but I prefer Mifune Don. Actually I think there are three or four restaruants in Japantown that serve it, but haven’t tried them yet.

    Mifune Done – $6.95 beat that with a spatula

  • art_girl
    Best Okonmiyaki Restaurant In OSAKA, JAPAN!

    Hi I am from OSAKA. as you know OSAKA has lots of OKONOMIYAKI Restaurant. but I found the ONE! It calls SANGATSU-MITSUKA, in 6-1-1 Honmachi Toyonaka, Japan. Sangatu-Mitsuka means March 3rd in Japanese. Why they name it? Because owner and his wife was born on the same day! is it unique

    They have so many good foods but I recommend March Pizza! it is very chasse and crispy, soooo goood!!

    The restaurant has very nice 50’s 60’s style to it. Owner is very friendly too

     

  • http://www.thinair.com/blog shannon
    Katsuo

    Not sure if it was local to Yamanashi area but our Okonomiyaki often had shaved Katsuobushi on top which writhed like little live eels from the heat.  Very yummy.

  • http://blog.greggman.com greggman
    I love that

    That’s my favorite part of Okonomiyaki.  The squirming katsuobushi makes it look like something is alive on your plate! :-D

  • DaiGaijin
    Otafuku in New York City

    I just checked out Otafuku in Manhattan. The address is 236 East 9th Street (between 2nd & 3rd Ave), phone number is 212-353-8503. I had the Okonomiyaki with squid (you can also choose from beef, pork or shrimp toppings), and I also had the Octopus Balls…er, I mean Takoyaki. Man…it was delicious! And the bonito added a nice touch to both dishes.

    2 pieces of Okonomiyaki cost $7.00, 6 pieces of Takoyaki cost $5.00, or you can get the combo of Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki for $8.00. For anyone close to NYC looking for a taste of Japan, I heartily recommend it! As a matter of fact, I’m going back this weekend to get some more…

  • http://www.jetphotos.com Nic
    Arlington Heights outside of Chicago

    They have many Japanese people there and a few Japanese restaurants but nobody that I know of serves Okonomi… What a shame!!

  • http://seattle.sushifinder.com/detail.asp?placeID=240 Mark
    Okanomiyaki in Seattle

    It appears that the only place in Seattle for Okanomiyaki in Seattle is a little place called Daimonji. My office was nearby and it was a staple for me. They serve several different varieties but I stuck with the “House” version.

  • Mark
  • rorkman
    Amsterdam Okonomiyaki

    After my trip to Japan october 2004, I found this little restaurant in Amsterdam that serves okonomiyaki:

    http://www.japanesepancakeworld.com/

    As far as I know this is the ONLY ONE in Holland. Not sure about the rest of Europe though ;)

  • Jodi
    Japanese Pancake World

    I know it’s not much comfort, but Japanese Pancake World in Amsterdam serves some absolutely fantastic okonomiyaki. Definitely worth a trip if you’re in town for whatever reason.

  • Meg
    Okonomiyaki experience in Japan

    I recently returned to the states from a trip to Japan, where I stayed with 6 others in Osaka. Our Japanese friends were wonderful to help show us the amazing aspects of the Japanese culture, and one of the things that we tried (twice, actually) was Okonomiyaki.

    The first time was in a home of a friend, where we tried Okonomiyaki with squid (but with no katsuobushi or sauce). It was more solid and ‘pancake-like,’ whereas the second batch in a restaurant was a lot looser, with the cabbage more apparent. Here’s a picture of both (sorry the home one doesn’t show much – I forgot to take an exclusive picture of it): http://tinyurl.com/g5skc

    Both were delicious, though! I’ve taken all the restaurants that people have suggested here and filed them away, in case I’m ever in one of those states. Mecha oishi.

  • neko
    Okonomiyaki in Southbay area

    If you are in Southbay area of Los Angeles, try Tombo in Torrance on Artesia Blvd near Van Ness. They have Okonomiyaki, both Osaka style and Hiroshima style, and Monja yaki. Small place so if you are not so lucky, you might have to waite quite long time, but worth waiting!

  • Mark
    Okonomiyaki Kiraku

    I’ve only been to one okonomiyaki. I was in Kyoto 4 years ago and visited Okonomiyaki Kiraku on Sanjo-dori, just down the street from the Westin Miyako where I was staying. The food was great!

  • Duke
    Chibo Waikiki

    I lived in Osaka and only found Chibo in Waikiki to be up to par ( very good). I’m in Vancouver now and will check out Modern Club ( very close to my house ), thanks

  • Barrett
    okonomiyaki-mura in Hiroshima.

    If you visit, Hiroshima, you owe to yourself to visit the Hiroshima capital of okonomiyaki……. Okonomiyaki-mura!!! There were about 30 of these little restaurants within 1-2 blocks, rising vertically.  In Hiroshima they typically make it with a layer of yakisoba noodles, so it’s less of a “cake” and more a stack of greatness.  Be sure to have ‘em throw on the oysters, which Hiroshima is known for.

    I took three pix: 1 2 and 3

    By the way, I live in Seattle.. thanks for the recommendation of Daimonji.  It was good, but not quite close enough to compare with my Japanese experiences.  Anyone know another place?  International district maybe?

  • Nathan
    Modern Club Vancouver

    Just so you know, Modern Club offers dry, flavourless okonomiyaki.. served by inept fools that couldn’t get an order right if their life depended on it.

    The owner is rude, the food terrible.

    Avoid at all costs.

  • annette
    Gaja in Torrance, Ca

    Gaja Resturant specializes in Okonomiyaki. It’s located in Torrance on the corner of Lomita and Pennsylvania Ave.

  • Fred
    Modern Club Vancouver

    My experience at the Modern Club in Vancouver was actually pretty good. Okonomiyaki was good and people were friendly. My guess is that Nathan had bad luck that day… or maybe I had good luck (see Nathan’s posting). I had my first Okonomiyaki in Tokyo.  Since then, every major city that I visit, I try to find a japanese restaurant that serves them. It’s just too good.

  • Patrick
    Okonomiyaki in Toronto

    There is a great Okonomiyaki place here in Toronto one block south west of bloor and yonge street neat Charles and Bay St. It is just behind the large Manulife Center.

    It is called Okonomi House and It is one of the best kept Japanese secrets in Toronto.

  • DJ
    Hawaiian style…

    How about the Food Court at Ala Moana Shopping Center, Honolulu. Pretty tasty, but I have nothing to judge it against.

  • Weasel

    I was in Kyoto last year and also found the Kiraku Okonomiyaki….

    just down the street from the Westin hotel…

    I was also impressed with the food and service…very tasty…

    Will be going to Japantown in S.f. to try in short future…

    Enjoy…

  • Chris
    really… No good okonomiyaki in SF

    I’m really suprised at the second post about Izumiya.

    I was happy to find out there was a restaurant in San Francisco that served okonomiyaki… but this place was horrible. That the other reviewer said it was better than japanese okonomiyaki?!? I can’t understand that at all. It’s not even close!! She must have had the worst in japan or maybe she doesnt like “real” okoomiyaki? or maybe she’s ever had it in japan?

    Go over to YELP.com and type in okonomiyaki san francisco… you’ll see that even the BEST restaurants get about 3 stars for okonomiyaki.

    I still don’t understand why people call this a PIZZA, it’s NOT PIZZA!

    It’s not a pancake either, though the main ingredient is batter, not dough like a pizza (so it’s definitely not a pizza!).

    It’s very simple, we don’t have okonomiyaki in the U.S., so there is no american word you can use to describe it. Not pizza, pancake, hamburger, shoe polish, eraser! Just like there was no word for PIZZA before they named it PIZZA, Call it Okonomiyaki so people know what it really is! (and to say it’s pizza because it’s cut like pizza, well actually pie came first, so isn’t it cut like pie? is it japanese pie? see, just call it by its name instead of having a silly word war of what it’s LIKE)

  • Tina
    Okonomiyaki in NJ

    I know that this place has an okonomiyaki stand in their food court, but I haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet. Generally though I’ve had good luck with food here so I imagine that their okonomiyaki is pretty good too.

    http://www.mitsuwanj.com/en/index.htm

  • Terumi
    East Meets West (Okonomiyaki in Hawaii)

    Aloha from Hawaii!  I just tried a wonderful place called Shochan, which serves Hiroshima okonomiyaki.  It’s located at 1035 University Avenue #104.  In Hiroshima, the ingredients are layere rather than mixed together.  The layers are typically batter, cabbage, porki, optional items (squid, cheese, etc.), noodles (soba, udon), topped with a fried egg and a generous amount of okonomiyaki sauce.  There phone number is (808)947-8785.  I’d say that the prices are reasonable.  There’s no alcohol served at the establishment, but you can bring in your own.  Some Kirin beer will go down well!

  • MartySheather
    AOK Okonomiyaki

    Hey all,

    If ever you are in the wonderful place called Furano there is a Okonomiyaki bar there i think that you should check it out if you cant find it look for north country inn and and the aussies there and they will help you out *****

  • ibuchan
    Delicous Okonomiyaki in Taiwan

    Recently I went to visit a friend in Taipei and she took me to a Okonomiyaki shop for a treat. I lived in Kansai for about a year, so I love Okonomiyaki, and I have to say that this was some of the best okonomiyaki I’ve ever had. You don’t get to make the okonomiyaki yourself, but the way they make it includes a delciously baked okonomiyaki with a perfect balance of sauce, mayonnaise, katsuo bushi, and nori on top. The shop was at the night market near  the Tai Power Buidling stop on the Xindian line. Sadly I don’t remember the name, but if you look for it you’ll find it.

  • paula
    okonomiyaki in the LA area

    i sometimes can get it in little Tokyo. when they have festivals or special events they’ll have the grill set up in the little grocery store there, making super yummy okonomityaki! i had a great one in of all places the Santa Anita race track for a japan family day!

    i’ve always gotten them and until today didn’t know what they were called ;)

  • http://www.crackinggood.com Carrie

    A new restaurant in Phoenix (actually opening tomorrow) has okonomiyaki on the menu.

    http://crackinggood.com/2010/07/14/the-what-you-like-pancake/

  • ihungry

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone knows a place to eat monjayaki in nyc? I have only had it homemade, which is DELICIOUS. I was hoping there was a restaurant that serves it.

  • Davidjacek

    anyone know of a place that serves Okonomiyaki in Michigan. I was in Japan years ago and still remember how great that was. Thanks

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  • Rioux Mona

    Hi Thanks for the great information . I had a Japanee  exchange student living with us in N.H. who loved to cooki  She made Okonomiyaki for us and taught me how to do it.  That way I don’t have to look for a place where it is made. I can just whip one up!  I had misplaced my receipe so your information was a life saver plus, you had great ideas which I want to try. My girl was only 16 when she came here for the year, but we had a lot of fun learning things from each other. We even invited Japanese students from a local college to come for a traditional Japanese meal prepared by the girls and me. The kids loved it as it gave them some good home cooked food that they sorely missed, being so far from home and a wonderful time of fellowship and fun  I miss those days!                                                                                                    I would recommend it to anyone:  to get an exchange student for awhile .It’s wonderful.  Mona

  • SAnthony

    How about some Okonomiyaki in Pittsburgh?  Where’s the good Japanese restaurants at?

  • SAnthony

    How about some Okonomiyaki in Pittsburgh?  Where’s the good Japanese restaurants at?

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