Okonomiyaki: お好み焼き

お好み焼き Okonomiyaki is considered Japanese junk food… but it is delicious! It comes from the phrase “as you like it”; basically it is a simple recipe with cabbage and a pancake-like batter that you add toppings as you desire. There are 2 main styles: Kansai (or Osaka) style and Hiroshima style. I tend to prefer Kansai style, even if it is a bit more simple. In Okinawa, there is something not quite the same, but many people refer to as Okinawan okonomiyaki, called hirayachi.

Kansai style (関西) is a mixed batter, then cooked in a fry pan or on a flat grill top. If adding bacon, it is just added in strips to top side before you flip and cook the top side. When its cooked, it is served with nori (seaweed sprinkles) のり, katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes) 鰹節, a thick sweet brown sauce (called okonomi sauce) お好みソース, and mayonnaise. Often there is benishouga (pickled ginger) 紅生姜 on the side.

Hiroshima (広島) style is layered instead of mixed, making it a bit more complicated to cook. Usually it includes a fried egg and yakisoba noodles inside as well. It is served in a similar way to Kansai style, with the okonomi sauce, nori, ginger, and mayo.

I enjoy eating at okonomiyaki restaurants, especially the ones where you can grill it at your table. In Okinawa, there are not many okonomiyaki restaurants, but there is a really good one called Heshin 海神 located in Awase that is not too far from me and serves Kansai style. Red Helmet 赤いヘルメット is a Hiroshima style place in Okinawa city. They are really good, for Hiroshima style. I think I may prefer Kansai style for its simplicity, though. But I think everyone should try them and decide for themselves which style they prefer. Heshin and Red Helmet are definitely the top 2 okonomiyaki places in Okinawa. There are some other places you can find it in Okinawa, these 2 places just happen to be some of the best. You can nearly always find okonomiyaki at summer festivals (natsu matsuri 夏祭り), too, as it is a very popular summer festival food.

Simple okonomiyaki is fairly easy to make at home though; all the ingredients are widely available. You can even buy kits that have all but the fresh ingredients inside (just buy your own cabbage, egg, bacon, green onion).

What do I like in my okonomiyaki? Well, definitely benishouga (pickled red ginger) on the side. I go for vegetable-based and skip the bacon. I usually order extra green onion. If I feel a bit different, I might add kimchi, cheese, and/or mochi bits. For those of you that like seafood, there are usually various things like shrimp (海老), scallops (ホタテ), octopus (たこ), or squid (いか) to mix in the batter. Many places will usually offer different types of meats for the batter as well.

When you visit Japan, eating okonomiyaki is a must-do!

address for Heshin 海神: 沖縄県沖縄市与儀715 マンション伊波 1F

address for Red Helmet 赤いヘルメット: 1 Chome-14-16 Hiyagon, Okinawa, Okinawa Prefecture 904-2173

**neither of these places have English menus… just be prepared for when you visit!

Here is a list of some other decent Okonomiyaki restaurants in Okinawa. Again, most of these do not have English menus; I think Sanshiro in Ginowan is the only one with an English menu. Other than that, there was an okonomiyaki shop in American Village with an English menu but they were not very good in my opinion (so I have not listed it here).

Maido まいど: https://goo.gl/maps/dXQ57V5DXSw

KO菜YA (Shintoshin location): https://goo.gl/maps/KgPaTCjxpRs

Sanshiro 三四郎:  https://goo.gl/maps/psodkY3E6TL2

Umanosuke 馬之助 (Ginowan location): https://goo.gl/maps/LcAp67rvLwK2




Hirayachi: ヒラヤーチー

Hirayachi is considered Okinawan okonomiyaki, but I think it resembles Korean chijimi (チヂミ in Japanese). The word hirayachi means to “fry flat.” This is a popular snack food and izakaya food, I think because it is simple yet delicious, as well as easy to eat.

It is a pancake type of batter with only a few ingredients: flour, egg, water, salt/pepper, and green onion mixed together, plus a little oil to fry in the pan with. To serve, most people top with shaved katsuobushi (or bonito flakes) and with either Worcestershire, yakisoba sauce, or okonomiyaki sauce (whatever you prefer). I confess that I will typically use Bulldog brand tonkatsu sauce to serve, and add some pickled ginger on the side.