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More Okonomiyaki Style & Technique [Split from L.A. board]

Thanks for starting this oko thread! I'm lucky enough to be married to a Hiroshima native, so about once a month, I get okonomiyaki at home. Most of what's said above seems to jibe with my experience, but my wife sums up the difference between the styles like this: In Osaka, the main ingredient is flour; it's a real pancake dish. In Hiroshima, the main ingredient is fresh shredded cabbage. Of course there's tons of variation no matter where you go, but the Hiroshima natives don't usually spend a lot of time adding extra ingredients like seafood, etc. Soba & pork, maybe some extra green onions, Otafuku-brand oko sauce (made in Hiroshima, available here at Japanese supermarkets) and bonito shavings. Of course, if you're ever in Hiroshima, you have to check out the oko building. Four stories of nothing but oko shops!

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  1. Glad you mentioned the Okonomiyaki building. Seems impossible, but true! And the soba with the pork - I like it with ramen noodles because of the slight egginess... but one definitely cannot do without the okonomiyaki sauce... we've even used tonkatsu sauce in a pinch...

    2 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      When they say soba with okonomiyaki, it means egg noodles, not buckwheat soba that most people think about. Soba can be a generic term for noodles, like when you hear chuka-soba for ramen.

      1. re: E Eto

        Yes, that's what I meant. Thanks for clarifying!

    2. hey Alexfood, my first experience with Okonomiyaki was with Hiroshima style and that hooked me. When I visited Osaka I went to a small restaurant my friend frequented and the owner was so badass that he let me keep the spatula! HAHAHA!

      2 Replies
      1. re: onigiriyumyum

        That is awesome. Eating off the teppan with a spatula is definitely one of the best food experiences I had in Japan. The lady behind the counter who'd been flipping these pancakes for like 30 years straight (and she's probably the third generation to do it) gave me some sign language that definitely meant "To cut the oko, use all your strength and power!" 15 minutes later, I was covered in sweat, but I ate the whole thing. Damn, now I'm going to have to beg my wife to make 'em this weekend...

        1. re: alexfood

          I bet a bouquet of Spring flowers and maybe a basket of nice organic strawberries would help in your pleading! Good luck, and let us know how things turned out!

      2. I became obsessed with Oko after having it at a long-since-closed Torrance restaurant (it was in a bank building and was the only restaurant within two blocks!).

        I went to my local Japanese market and bought a bag of the mix, the sauce, and the mayonnaise. Not really remembering what went in it, the following became my standard:
        Shredded cabbage
        chiffonade of nori
        black sesame seeds
        shredded red pickled ginger
        sliced pork loin
        shrimp
        bonito flakes
        sprouts
        mushrooms

        I never thought about adding noodles!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Carrie 218

          Okonomiyaki is one of my goto meals on cold nights, I keep most of the dry ingredients handy as they keep forever and jsut pick up a bag of coleslaw mix and whatever meat I care to use that evening.

          1. re: Carrie 218

            That sounds fantastic! My go to recipe (after becoming obsessed with it after eating it at a teensy place in NYC) is flour, water, egg, a LOT of shredded cabbage, scallions, some meat (usually bacon or ham), topped with seaweed, otafuku sauce and of course, bonito flakes. It's such a great and easy dinner.

          2. Hey Oko lovers -- Next Saturday (in L.A.), the Dotchi no Ryouri Show aka Cooking Showdown on channel 18 at 8pm will feature Hiroshima-style okomiyaki vs. Osaka-stay okonomiyaki. For those of you who've never seen this show, it's fantastic food tv, and also a great example of the craziness of Japanese food programming in general. My vote's with Hiroshima style...

            1 Reply
            1. re: alexfood

              I also vote Hiroshima style... what decadence will they be up to next week? The options are many! Thanks for the heads-up...

            2. Just finished watching the Dochi no Ryori episode where the two major stars of okonomiyaki - Hiroshima v. Osaka - got pimped out, sexed up, and OMG the closeups - I'm - I'm - I'm...ohhhhhh... reaching for a cigarette now that it's over... this was some serious food porno! Dress me up with scallops and soba, cover my netherregions with big slices of pork so I won't be so obvious, coat me with an egg, and finish me off with a slather of glistening oko sauce... "I'm so sexy," said that big buxom flirt from Hiroshima as she got all nine to surrender to her voluptuous full figure and heady scent of beckon... or was it bacon? ;}'

              8 Replies
              1. re: bulavinaka

                HAHHA love that post Bulavinaka. Rock my world!

                1. re: starlady

                  Love that dressed-up food smut on Dochi no Ryori... this is hanky-panky that even my kids can watch!

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Hiroshima was such the obvious choice!! The Osaka-style is just like a big flattened takoyaki.

                    1. re: alexfood

                      If my choice on the show were something completely different against the Osaka-style, I might be swayed toward that oko - you have to admit that it was a decadent version that probably not many could duplicate or afford on a typical oko day - I liked the idea of the organic red ginger introduced in two different ways. But you are correct - Hiroshima hands-down. Did you get the size of that beast?

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        I'm not sure the choice would have been so easy for me. If you've ever had Kansai style okonomiyaki with gyu-suji (stewed beef tendon) like they make in Osaka, then it would be difficult to choose against that. Up until they added cheese to the Hiroshima okonomiyaki, I was all for it. Somehow it's like adding pineapple to pizza. While I'm sure it adds a new flavor dimension, it just went over an edge I wouldn't choose in this competition. By the way, here are some screen shots of the final products (with close-ups).

                         
                         
                         
                         
                        1. re: E Eto

                          I agree on the cheese...that was the only sour note in the symphony. Also, I am seriously intrigued by that "real" red ginger/beni-shoga that Bula-san referenced above. The one thing that gets me though, is that the Osaka-style oko is so heavy and flour-based; all that fresh cabbage in the Hiroshima-style looked great. Plus it gave me a great flashback to the oko building in Hiroshima. I've been advised never to get a lot of crazy extras, and to just focus on the basics: pork, egg, noodles, cabbage, crepe, green onions, bonita flakes & of course the sauce.

                2. re: bulavinaka

                  I enjoyed the episode almost as much as your summary of it! :)

                  I don't think I'll ever tire of Dotchi...time for a DVD box set to come out.

                  When I eat okonomiyaki, I tend to go rather simple; 3 to 5 ingredients is enough for me. Seeing the Osaka and Hiroshima style chefs try to one up each other seemed like overkill, but I don't doubt the food was delicious. I just wonder if it was TOO much stuff all at once.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    The special ingredient okonomiyaki sauce is available here in L.A. I believe it's at Nijiya. The sauce is called Hiroshima-jakken I think.

                  2. One of my big questions is about the sauce: what exactly is the difference between okonomiyaki sauce and tonkatsu sauce? Am I doing the correct and proper thing by buying both or am I merely being exploited by Japanese sauce companies preying on my ignorance to sell twice as much thick, brown sauce?

                    From what I can tell on the ingredient lists (Bull-Dog tonkatsu and Otafuku oko sauce) the oko sauce seems to use a slightly wider range of fruits and vegetables along with molasses and kelp, but this could just be a difference in recipe between manufacturers. Even looking at Otafuku's website the differences seem to be smaller, although they do specifically use different spices (clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon in oko sauce while the tonkatsu sauce has red and black pepper).

                    On a sub-topic are there any particular brands that tend to be better/worse than others? Living in San Francisco there are a wide enough variety available that far outstrip my ability to try them all or even to understand the labels of many of them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: belgand

                      As far as I can tell, tonkatsu sauce is generally much more tart, and a little thinner than oko sauce. So while ingredients may be similar, the preparation and proportions yield different results. By the way, a third one, Otafuku's yaki-soba sauce, is also similar but different enough that we have both. We do sometimes mix and match when we have okonomiyaki though.

                      We recently got Hiroshima Jaken okonomi sauce -- it was featured on Cooking Showdown -- and it's fantastic. Markedly fruitier than Otafuku. Highly recommend. It's also good on yaki-soba!