The “As You Like It” Pancake
The famous Okonomiyaki literally means “cook what you like” for okonomi, and yaki means “grilled or cooked”. It’s a kind of savory pancake made from a batter of flour, grated yam, eggs and dashi, and typically pork and cabbage as toppings.
The origins of okonomiyaki are unclear as many variations of pancakes have appeared at different times, in many places. The earliest origins of a basic crepe-like pancake date back to the Edo period (1683-1868) when it was a special dessert served at Buddhist ceremonies called Funoyaki. This then evolved during the Meiji period (1868-1912) into a sweeter dish called Sukesoyaki. In the 1920’s and 30’s the dish continued to evolve with more emphasis on the sauces added and the name Yoshokuyaki began to be used.
The name Okonomiyaki started in the late 1930’s in Osaka. In Hiroshima at this time a similar crepe-like food was popular and served to children as a snack item. Okonomiyaki started to become more popular during the war when rice became scarce, even so after World War II. There were monthly food rations set up by the government. Instead of rice, people use flour. Flour based foods were filling and became a staple. In Hiroshima, bean sprouts were added or cabbage, which was cheap. People started adding whatever ingredients they find available to make the meal more nutritious. Mayonnaise was first used in 1946.
Okonomiyaki may be a pancake but it doesn’t have the sweetness or fluffiness of pancakes. It’s usually filled with octopus, shrimp, pork, yam or kimchi. A more accurate comparison is between okonomiyaki and pizza. The two significantly different types of okonomiyaki are from the west of Japan, the Kansai or Osaka style and the Hiroshima style. Osaka style involves ingredients all mixed into a batter and then grilled. The Hiroshima style, a small crepe-like pancake, is grilled and then other ingredients are layered on top, and uses more cabbage.
In Japan, if people want to eat okonomiyaki they go to restaurants that specialize in it. These restaurants have dining tables equipped with an iron griddle or teppan, and customers are given the ingredients to cook the meal themselves. There are also traditional restaurants where the chefs prepare the okonomiyaki and serve them ready to eat. Okonomiyaki is also quite easy to make at home. It’s a dish found in all parts of Japan today and are just as popular abroad where you find them in many Japanese restaurants.
Serving Japanese Pancake in Federal Way
We serve one of the best okonomiyaki this side of Federal Way. So when you crave Japanese pancake, drop by KTon and see for yourself. It’s one of our best sellers and a tradition of pride.