Okonomiyaki is a kind of thick pancake made from egg and finely-shredded cabbage cooked on a steel hotplate under the customer’s watchful eye. You choose which toppings you want added (hence the name which means ‘cooked to your taste’). For instance you might go for pork (thinly sliced like bacon), taco (octopus), prawns, asparagus or a mix of any or all of these. The finishing touch is to add mayonnaise, thick brown okonomiyaki sauce, bonito (dried fish) flakes and grated seaweed.
You sit at a table with a steel hotplate in the middle so the okonomiyaki keeps hot and you cut it into pieces with an implement like a little steel shovel. It’s good for sharing as you can order several and then divide them up among you.
The basic kind of okonomiyaki is Osaka stye, but there is also Hiroshima okonomiyaki where the ingredients aren’t mixed together but cooked in layers with noodles on top. If the noodles are cooked into the okonomiyaki then it’s called modern-style.
There aren’t many restaurants in London that serve okonomiyaki, but if you want to try it, go to Abeno on Museum Street, right by the British Museum, or Abeno 2, just round the corner from Leicester Square tube station. The waiter will cook the okonomiyaki at your table for you. It’s not quite as good as you’d get in Osaka, but it’s a lot less far to travel.