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Okonomiyaki! Grilled Veggie and Meat Favorite of Japan

Okonomiyaki! What is it? Who invented it? You can eat it and cook it in Japan!

By Bob Kerstetter

What is Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き屋) combines cabbage, seasonings, eggs, some other things and a batter to create a grilled favorite food of Japan.

Some label okonomiyaki as a savory stir-fry pancake, but that may confine the definition a bit—you decide.

Who Invented Okonomiyaki?

Okonomiyaki shows up all over Japan. Many cities claim okonomiyaki as their unique invention.


A chef cooks okonomiyaki during a sakura festival.

Hiroshima, Osaka and Tokyo each claim a noteworthy style of okonomiyaki. Hiroshima and Tokyo even use special names—hiroshimayaki and monjayaki—allowing you to figure out which is which. Smaller cities—such as Wakayama, Sapporo and Shibata—also promote okonomiyaki as a local food with special textures and tastes.

Because okonomiyaki varieties—including batter styles, other ingredients and cooking methods—differ among locales, each city probably did invent—or at least innovate—this healthy and fun Japanese food.

Some Other Things

A few of the "other ingredients" in okonomiyaki include fish, veggies, octopus, bacon, noodles and secret spices. Toppings consist of sauces, dried seaweed, powdered seasonings and mayonnaise.

Everything is chopped or thinly sliced. Thick batter results in a puffy moist dish. Thin batter provides just enough to glue to hold together a crispy treat.


The chef adds eggs to the okonomiyaki.

Cooking Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki cooks quickly on a grill at your table— up to three or four minutes on one side and two or three on the other.

Some restaurants prepare it for you. Others bring you chopped ingredients and assist as you do the cooking. When a cook-it-yourself restaurant sees you need no help they leave it all to you.

Nancy cooking okonomiyaki

Cooking okonomiyaki yourself at a restaurant.

Eating Okonomiyaki

You eat okonomiyaki off the grill using chopsticks. Green tea, beer, sake, water and good friends enhance the taste. Thick and moist or thin and crispy, okonomiyaki makes a great community food.


Eating Okonomiyaki.

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