Okonomiyaki is a Japanese dish that is barely known abroad, it is associated in particular with the Kansai and Hiroshima regions and seems to be hugely popular. Like many dishes there are slight local variations between regions but the core principles of the dish remain the same.
Okonomiyaki is really tasty and incredibly filling, I would best describe it as a type of savoury pancake. I assume that the pancake batter used in Okonomiyaki is the same as the batter used in Takoyaki, it is used to help bind all the ingredients together once they are wilted and partially cooked. In Hiroshima prefecture the pancake is made with shredded cabbage and noodles cooked in 2 halves and sandwiched together, there is a little Japanese barbecue sauce within. It is possible to have additional items sandwiched inside the Okonomiyaki, I chose to include char siu pork inside mine. Some of the other options included pork, prawns, fish and of course the local specialities of conger eel and oysters.
The Okonomiyaki is served onto the table top hot plate, so that the enormous pancake stays warm while it is eaten. The Okonomiyaki has barbecue sauce smeared on top and is topped with spring onion and pickled ginger, the noodles poke out of the side, I had chosen the fat and chewy udon noodles that I love rather than the soba noodles that where the other option.
I use the provided spatula to cut of pieces off the huge pancake and to cut them into bite sized pieces, I’m not sure how to eat this thing. I look around the room to see if I can catch glances of other diners eating habits, I was careful not to stare, I could see some diners eating directly from the spatula, others are eating with chopsticks from the small plates in front of them. I chose the latter.