Tokyobling's Blog

Okonomimura – Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki

Posted in Places, Shops by tokyobling on June 24, 2014

One of the many famous Japanese dishes that might not have made it abroad yet is the okonomiyaki, a dish whose name translates roughly as “cook it as you like it”. It is basically batter, vegetabels, eggs and anything you like to put on it, mixed and fried as a huge pancake on a hotplate or in a frying pan. The most classic okonomiyaki is the style championed in Osaka and western Japan but there is one big local contender up there: the Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki. The main differences is the that they fry up a pancake first, then add noodles. In Hiroshima they are also very particular about their sauce, and the most well known classic Hiroshima style sauce is the one made by Mitsuwa Foods.

The Okonomimura is a premier tourist location in Hiroshima visited by almost everyone that comes to Hiroshima. It is a four story building crammed with okonomiyaki restaurants, most seating only between 6-15 people. The origin of the building dedicated to okonomiyaki can be traced back to a street of food vendors that put up their stalls there in 1950, only five years after the atomic bomb blast. It is not very far from the epicenter either. In 1967 the street vendors were moved into a building on the initiative of okonomiyaki entrepenur Mr. Yoshida. The present building dates back to 1992 but it already looks much older.

There are 27 restaurants to chose from inside, and I picked the Kaeruttei (かえるっ亭) on the 4th floor. The name means Frog Palace and the owner explained to me that he was stumped for a good name when he was opening the shop many years ago. In his home he had a large frog statue that he was planning to move to the restaurant and someone suggested they name it after that. The frog statue can still be seen in the shop. The word for frog in Japanese, Kaeru, is also the same as the word “to return”, which in this case might be good for business. I certainly will return the next time I visit Hiroshima!











20 Responses

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  1. C said, on June 24, 2014 at 5:24 am

    This sounded vaguely familiar, and then I remembered eating this in San Jose’s Japantown. The concept did made it to Northern California, at least:

    Looks like there are a few in LA’s Little Tokyo, too. But I’m guessing those are the only places that know about this. Very cool! Would love to see you feature more food pics 🙂 (any more gems like the warm ginger ale?)


    • tokyobling said, on June 27, 2014 at 1:08 am

      Thanks C! I am not much of a foodie, and I have covered a lot of the food I eat often already. There are still a few dishes over here that I could blog about. Not sure all of them will go down well with an American stomach! (^-^;)


      • C said, on June 27, 2014 at 5:33 am

        Who cares about squeamish tummies? Unique food is part of what makes Japan so special, right? 🙂


        • tokyobling said, on June 27, 2014 at 7:25 am

          Exactly! Raw horse meet and balls of sea urchin gonads coming right up! (^-^)
          To be fair, I have blogged about McDonalds so no one can accuse me of being too kind to squeamish tummies.


          • pk1154 said, on June 27, 2014 at 1:23 pm

            Sea urchin roe.  YUM! YUM! YUM!

            (Couldn’t convince anybody else to try them.  Also, very pricey.)


          • C said, on June 28, 2014 at 12:41 am

            I thought the moon burgers there were cool! What’s squeamish for one is normal for another. It’s all good.

            You were important enough for raw horse meat, how impressive!


          • tokyobling said, on June 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

            Haha… raw horse meat is available in most super markets. It is a bit pricey though (difficult to get horse meat that has not been loaded with drugs). Every now and then I treat myself though! Perfect with wasabi!


          • C said, on July 5, 2014 at 3:47 am

            For foreign visitors, being offered raw horse meat is considered a sign of utmost respect — or so I was informed (as in, “you’re not important enough for raw horse meat!”)


          • tokyobling said, on July 9, 2014 at 5:34 am

            Oh, I must have missed that, I get my raw horsemeat in the supermarket or in the local izakaya! (^-^;) With wasabi and soy sauce, yummy! Or, as a BBQ side meat.


  2. pk1154 said, on June 24, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I was weeding the vegetables one recent Sunday, listening to NPR’s “The Splendid Table” and was pleasantly surprised that one segment was about a chef who is promoting okonomiyaki in the USA.

    (My life has been filled with the strangest serendipity recently!)

    I should try making this, but would have to get my hands on some Kewpie mayo first.


    • tokyobling said, on June 27, 2014 at 1:07 am

      Haha… more than the mayo, it is the sauce that is the tricky ingredient, but these days you can get it on Amazon!


  3. Dina Farmer said, on June 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    How neat. We have okonomiyaki but it’s not all that common in the states unless you are in a bigger city. I’ve seen it in the city I live in but I’ve never tried it and now that I know what it is. I think I may!


  4. amadl said, on June 25, 2014 at 2:51 am

    There are some local franchise selling takoyaki and okonomiyaki in shopping centers in Jakarta, but usually they are a bit overpriced and don’t look as good as the ones pictured in this post.


    • tokyobling said, on June 27, 2014 at 1:05 am

      It is really easy to cook these yourself! Just find the sauce (or a similar sauce) and a recipe and get started. I am not very good in the kitchen but I have so far never failed to make one that tasted really good! (^-^)


  5. Timi said, on June 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Okay, I started drooling by the end of the post. Even though I’m not hungry O_O


  6. paulhwanderlust said, on July 4, 2014 at 8:25 am

    In my opinion, Hiroshima okonomiyaki is so much better than Osaka’s!


    • tokyobling said, on July 4, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Haha… Well, they are actually so different that they warrant a different name altogether! (^-^)


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