If you visit Hiroshima you can’t get away from okonomiyaki — pretty much known as the local dish. This odd concotion is more fun than tasty (IMHO), and is pretty much just a great way to fill youself up with a lot of food. And it’s fun to watch a real good chef make one of these things.
The basic of this Hiroshima specialty is batter at the bottom, with a huge layer of cabbage. Various items are also included depending on the order and the chef, but bacon is pretty common. Other vegetables like sprouts are also added. Then a generous amount of noodles are added. The top is comprised of an egg, and then it is smothered in a sweet-ish sauce. All on top of a hot grill.
During my time in Hiroshima I had this twice for lunch. The first time I was just leaving Hiroshima Castle and was headed to the famous Shukkeien gardens, so I stopped at a nearby place called Hanayashiki [花やしき]. They had already been cooking their okonomiyaki and when I ordered in a rather broken Japanese I got one of them.
This was an ordinary one, just bacon, no other toppings. It was frankly not very tasty, as the seasoning was barely there, and the sauce was starting to burn. Frankly this would be considered rather poor okonomiyaki making. Plus, at this time I wasn’t clear on how to use the metal spatula, so I was a bit of a mess…
Afterwards I saw how log their Tabelog rating has been, and well, it’s well-deserved. Poor.
Two days later, after trying to recover from the taxing Mount Misen hike, I walked gingerly out to lunch to the famous Okonomimura [お好み村] — a building that housed a few dozen tiny okonomiyaki restaurants. It reminded me of places like Sundae-town in Seoul. I gravitated towards one called Yakidouraku [焼道楽] and sat down and enjoyed the cooking from scratch.
I ordered the special, which also had kimchee and squid. They also recommended soba for noodles. They spoke English relatively well so it made it easier. A beer in hand and we all watched Korean soap opera on TV. They said it’s more dramatic than Japanese ones, but I think they are actually Korean.
This was cooked far better than the other one, and it was a joy watching the chef make this from a hot mess into this rather beautiful item. It tasted nicer too, a more nuanced item. It was damn filling, and I was happy for this. I thanked them profusely as I left.
Well, honestly this isn’t really my thing, but had to do it. You’ll find it interesting, but for me it’s a novelty that wore off very quickly.
2-45 Kaminobori-cho, Naka-ku
Okonomimura [お好み村], 4th floor
5-13 Shintenchi, Naka-ku