While in Japan we ate okonomiyaki twice – once in Osaka and once in Hiroshima. Did you know that there are two styles of okonomiyaki? I didn't!
The predominant style is the Osaka/Kansai version, where the okonomiyaki is prepared somewhat like a pancake, where the batter and other ingredients are mixed together and fried. The other style is the Hiroshima version, where the ingredients are layered rather than mixed together.
Naturally, both regions claim that their style is best. But which one did I think was better? Read on for the okonomiyaki showdown!
We had the Kansai style okonomiyaki at a restaurant where they were grilled in front of us. This was NOT a cook-it-yourself joint (although I believe those places exist), and we had been warned beforehand not to touch the okonomiyaki until it was ready. Apparently that is not the done thing!
For Kansai style oknomiyaki, a batter is made of flour, grated yam, water/dashi, eggs and shredded cabbage. Also added was tempura flakes and pickled ginger. It usually contains other ingredients such as spring onions, meat, or seafood – we had ours with seafood.
The batter, cabbage and seafood was all mixed together. Surprisingly, most of it stayed in the bowl. Skills!
The batter was poured on to the hot plate, and shaped into a circle. You can have cheese on it, if you so desire.
As well as cheese, there's also the option of having yakisoba noodles. You can see some here under the mountain of bonito flakes!
After spending some time cooking on one side, the okonomiyaki was flipped over.
Mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce was spread over it.
Seaweed flakes were sprinkled on top.
Now to to Hiroshima - as mentioned before, Hiroshima okonomiyaki differs in style to the Kansai style by having the ingredients layered rather than mixed together.
For Hiroshima okonomiyaki, we went to this building that was kind of like a food court of okonomiyaki “restaurants”. The restaurants were basically kitchens surrounded by grills, with seating around the grills.
The okonomiyaki was cooked in front of us again, and we definitely didn't touch anything. Chef looked rather grumpy! For this style of okonomiyaki, a circle of batter was spread on to the grill, and then topped with lots and lots of cabbage, bean sprouts and spring onions.
Alfalfa sprouts were placed on top.
He placed slices of bacon on top of the cabbage and sprouts.
Then some more batter was squirted on top of the bacon. (I'm pretty sure it was batter since I certainly wasn't going to ask - remember me saying before that Chef looked grumpy??)
It all got flipped over to cook the other side.
We wanted oysters in ours, so the oysters were placed on the grill to start cooking.
Next he squashed it down into a more compact pile.
Cooked yakisoba noodles were placed on the grill.
The noodles were spread out, and a bit of oil was sprinkled on top.
Chef separated the noodles and shaped them into circles. The cooked oysters were placed on top.
Then the cabbage piles were placed on top of the noodles. It was looking good, but there was more to come.
Eggs were broken on to the grill and lightly fried.
And then the okonomiyaki was placed on top of the fried egg.
The okonomiyaki was flipped over again, placing the egg on top, and then a generous amount of okonomiyaki sauce was spread on.
And finally, some spring onions and seaweed flakes were sprinkled on to finish it off.
And it was finally ready for eating! Ahh, it was delicious too. And SO big and filling. But yes, we ate one each. Gluttons.
Both versions were delicious, and worthy challengers for the Okonomiyaki showdown.
With the Kansai style okonomiyaki, it was like a savoury pancake, with a mixture of texture from the cabbage and seafood. However, the Hiroshima style version is like a glutton's dream with the bacon, seafood, a ton of cabbage, noodles plus a fried egg. If someone wasn't full after eating it, then they would have a stomach the size of a house.
I would gladly eat either them again, but there can only be one winner - and for me the Kansai style okonomiyaki takes it out. It just edged out the Hiroshima version because each piece of the okonomiyaki was a combination of tastiness – no one ingredient in it stood out from the others. With the Hiroshima version, even though it was really good, because it was layered, everything seemed quite separate.
And there you have it! Has anyone else eaten both versions? What was your preference?