お好み焼き Okonomiyaki is considered Japanese junk food… but it is delicious! It comes from the phrase “as you like it”; basically it is a simple recipe with cabbage and a pancake-like batter that you add toppings as you desire. There are 2 main styles: Kansai (or Osaka) style and Hiroshima style. I tend to prefer Kansai style, even if it is a bit more simple. In Okinawa, there is something not quite the same, but many people refer to as Okinawan okonomiyaki, called hirayachi (described in the linked post).
Kansai style is a mixed batter, then cooked in a fry pan or on a flat grill top. If adding bacon, it is just added in strips to top side before you flip and cook the top. When its cooked, it is served with nori (seaweed sprinkles), katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes), a thick sweet brown sauce, and mayonnaise. Often there is benishouga (pickled ginger) on the side.
Hiroshima style is layered instead of mixed, making it a bit more complicated to cook. Usually it includes a fried egg and yakisoba noodles as well. It is served in a similar way to Kansai style, with the sauce, nori, ginger, and mayo.
I enjoy eating at okonomiyaki restaurants, especially the ones where you can grill it at your table. In Okinawa, there are not many okonomiyaki restaurants, but there is a really good one called Heshin 海神 located in Awase that is not too far from me and serves Kansai style. Red Helmet 赤いヘルメット is a Hiroshima style place in Okinawa city. They are really good, for Hiroshima style. I think I may prefer Kansai style for its simplicity, though. But I think everyone should try them and decide for themselves which style they prefer. Heshin and Red Helmet are definitely the top 2 okonomiyaki places in Okinawa. There are some other places you can find it, I just have not found any as good as these two.
Simple okonomiyaki is fairly easy to make at home; all the ingredients are widely available. You can even buy kits that have all but the fresh ingredients inside (just buy your own cabbage, egg, bacon, green onion).
What do I like in my okonomiyaki? Well, definitely benishouga (pickled red ginger) on the side. I go for vegetable-based and skip the bacon. I usually order extra green onion. If I feel a bit different, I might add kimchi, cheese, and/or mochi bits. For those of you that like seafood, there are usually various things like shrimp, scallops, octopus to mix in the batter. Many places will usually offer different types of meats for the batter as well.
When you visit Japan, eating okonomiyaki is a must-do!
address for Heshin 海神: 沖縄県沖縄市与儀715 マンション伊波 1F
address for Red Helmet 赤いヘルメット: 1 Chome-14-16 Hiyagon, Okinawa, Okinawa Prefecture 904-2173
**neither of these places have English menus… just be prepared for when you visit!