Thursday, July 29, 2010

Japan: Okonomiyaki - Hiroshima vs Osaka style

My brothers and I have fond memories of eating Okonomiyaki as children. We had some discussions [me not remembering much at 5 years old but still being insistent anyhow] about where and with whom we had our Okonomiyaki's but the one thing we all agreed on was that we wanted to try both the Hiroshima style as well as the Osaka style in a head to head match up THIS time around.  

Our first city was Hiroshima so we headed down to Okonomimura Okonomiyaki Village.  This building has 3 floors of Okonomiyaki shops with over 20 vendors.  I have no idea how to tell one from another so I just picked a floor arbitrarily [4th Floor].  
As we had a group of 15, it was much more convenient for us to split off into 2 groups with all the shop being  virtually side by side.
The Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki had batter on the bottom, topped with Nappa cabbage, bean sprouts, bacon, noodles and/or whatever other kinds of filling you request [i got squid, shrimp, and garlic. my brother, gary, told me stay away from him. I'm still not sure if it was because of the garlic or he just wanted me to stay away from him].  It's topped with a fried egg [scrambled and flattened into a pancake], okonomiyaki sauce, and aonori.  It's great to be able to watch all the action unfold in front of you without actually having to do the work.

The first taste of Okonomiyaki was great.  It separated pretty easily since it was built in layers but at least I was able to pick off the overabundance of garlic.  The cabbage center fell apart a lot but I'm a fast eater.  I took control of the situation rather quickly.  We left full and happy...

...Until we got to Osaka. I love Osaka.  It's probably one of my favorite cities in Japan.  Why?  It's the food.  I've never had a bad meal in Osaka. The food is always good, plentiful and creative.  My nephews are picky eaters but even they were willing to at least try Takoyaki [octopus dumplings].  I'm so proud of them!

Our travel counterparts, the "S" family, decided that they wanted to go find some place closer to the hotel [probably code for, "We're sick of you and your nutty family and we need to get away from you"].  Luckily, my family are a bunch of kuishinbo's and are willing to be team players for food.  My cousin, Hiroko, who is now living in Osaka likes to spend time with friends around the Dotonbori area said, "This is my playground...Let me know what you want to do and I will take you!"  Our directions were, "OKONOMIYAKI ON DOTONBORI."  She took us to a restaurant right next to Chibo [where I had my Okonomiyaki the last time I was in Osaka] called, "Dohtonbori":
This is where my brothers, sister in law, and i discovered that our favorite, hands down, was Kansai style okonomiyaki, which shouldn't be such a surprise since it's said that Osaka invented the okonomiyaki.  The ingredients are all  mixed together to make a thick batter. It takes far longer to cook than the Hiroshima style but it is well worth the wait...and it gave you a chance to enjoy a very, very tall beer [thank you, Sapporo].  
The end result was a nice dense patty that had just enough chew on it, topped with a nice savory Okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayo.  I really don't care for Aonori so I left it off of mine but I was pretty generous with the fluffy, flaky katsuobushi that was provided in a stacking box just above the aonori where all the condiments were.

I'm sure there are far better Okonomiyaki joints than the ones we went to but we were allbpretty happy with our end results!

Okonomimura Okonomiyaki Village
5-13 Shintenchi, Naka-ku
HiroshimaHiroshima Prefecture
From JR Station: take the tram to Hatcho-bori, exit from tram and continue on the same path as the tram for another block, left at Chuo Dori, then right at the 5th street [pay attention, signage is not great].  The building will be on your left hand side.

[chain restaurant, this one was on the main Dotonbori street]


  1. The best okonomiyaki I've had was in London. Go figure. I think it was Osaka style--all mixed in. I would LOVE to go to this place! Some day...

  2. Fuji Mama & I were JUST talking about running off to Japan some day! We'll have to take you & make it a girl's getaway trip! :)

    I'll have to reach out to you the next time I make it out to London! who knew???!!!!

  3. You're breaking my heart. Osaka "style" okonomiyaki is just an inelegant bowl of goop, fried until it congeals. Fun to make with kids, but nothing else to recommend for it. Hiroshima okonomiyaki is a work of art, carefully assembled one component at a time by people who have taken the time to master a number of critical skills. The flavors are clearer, the ingredients retain more of their own character, and the presentation is much more interesting.

  4. Matt - i understand exactly what you're saying. Maybe it was just the combination that we got but while we really enjoyed the hiroshima style the flavors were just a little less well "married". There were parts of this Hiroshima style that seemed to compete too much with the very strong sauce. Maybe I just need to try more Hiroshima style okonomiyaki joints [which I'm totally up for!] :)


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