I was first introduced to Okonomiyaki when fellow hiking buddy and psychology colleague, Ahnate, decided to cook up a batch at Hyde Manor. He was inspired to try and make the dish after visiting Sapporo a few months prior. So of course, when I visited Hiroshima, I had to try the dish that they are most known for – Okonomiyaki.
Hiroshima’s version of the classic dish is highlighted by the generous amount of cabbage over yakisoba noodles and thin layer of pancake batter.
We stumbled into a little Okonomiyaki hole-in-the-wall and was pleased to find an older woman and a younger woman behind the counter. The small restaurant was located just a few steps from our hotel in Hiroshima. It had three seats. Perfect.
I had noticed a photo of the owner on the wall, along with a website address. It looked like someone had written an article about her Okonomiyaki restaurant and then gave a souvenir to hang on the wall…kind of like how Guy Fieri leaves his mug on restaurants that appear on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. After searching through numerous entries on a website dedicated to Okonomiyaki, I finally found aunty’s restaurant. Google Translate suggested that the restaurants name was Hiroshima Minami-ku, and also sort of confirms our assumption that her daughter was the younger woman behind the counter.
Here’s the article on the wall about aunty.
The initial exchange of words was very interesting. They spoke zero English, and we spoke zero Japanese. Their menu was on the wall, in Japanese. Eventually, she showed us the different noodles and I believe we ended up choosing the Okonomiyaki with yakisoba and udon noodles. Lots of nervous laughter and pointing was involved.
Aunty was like an okonomiyaki master. All the while, both of the ladies cheered on their home baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp. They cheered quite enthusiastically, too.
Thin layer of pancake batter:
Lots of cabbage and bean sprouts!
A strip of bacon on top of some other interesting toppings.
Another thin pancake layer on top.
It now looks like a we’re making tacos.
And then here come the noodles.
She puts the noodles on top, adds secret sauce and more toppings, and then slices the okonomiyaki into four pieces. They were huge.
At one point, they tried to ask us where we were from. Of course, we had no idea that they were asking us that. So, aunty’s daughter brought over a map. Before I had a chance to point out our location, both Joel and I instinctively yelled…Hawaii! And they both nodded and smiled enthusiastically. As we would later find out, people in Japan get very excited about anything related to Hawaii. It’s true. Of course, we had something to be excited about as well…aunty’s delicious okonomiyaki. Oishi!