Okonomiyaki: The Savoury Pancake From Japan

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake made from flour batter and other ingredients grilled on a teppan. In addition to the usual toppings of okonomiyaki sauce, aonori, katsuobushi, Japanese mayonnaise, and pickled ginger, common additions include cabbage, pork, and seafood. The addition of particular garnishes and components can vary substantially (anything from meat and seafood to wasabi and cheese). The name of the dish, "okonomi," which literally translates to "to one's pleasure," reflects this flexibility. Although the meal is accessible throughout Japan, Hiroshima and Osaka are where it is most well-known. 

The name Okonomiyaki is occasionally rendered as "As-You-Like-It Pancake" in English. This might be deceiving, though. Although okonomiyaki is made of batter that is griddle-cooked, it lacks the sweetness and fluffiness of pancakes and is frequently filled with octopus, shrimp, pork, yams, or kimchi. Also made is the comparison between okonomiyaki and pizza, which is more realistic. 


Prior to World War II, okonomiyaki was created in Japan, where it later developed and gained popularity. Basic crepe-like pancakes have their earliest roots in the Edo era (1683–1868), when they were offered as a special dessert at Buddhist rites known as Funoyaki. Then, during the Meiji era (1868–1912), this developed into a sweeter dish known as Sukesoyaki. 

The meal continued to change during the 1920s and 1930s, with increased focus placed on the sauces added and the usage of the name Yoshokuyaki. In Osaka, the term "okonomiyaki" first appeared in the late 1930s. A similar crepe-like delicacy that was topped with onions, folded over, and presented to kids as a snack was popular at the time in Hiroshima. When rice became limited during the war and locals had to get creative with other ingredients that were more readily available, okonomiyaki, in its various varieties, started to become more popular.

In Japan, okonomiyaki is typically consumed in restaurants that specialise in it. Some of these eateries have iron griddle-equipped eating tables (referred to as "teppans") where customers are provided the materials to prepare their own meals. We have listed the steps, even you can make your own okonomiyaki.  


3 packed cups finely shredded cabbage, about ½ medium 

1¼ cups chopped scallions, about 1 bunch 

1 cup panko breadcrumbs 

¾ teaspoon sea salt 

3 eggs, beaten 

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing 

For serving 

Vegan Worcestershire sauce 


Sesame seeds 

Pickled ginger 

½ sheet nori, sliced 

½ cup microgreens, optional 


Combine the cabbage, scallions, panko, and salt in a sizable bowl. Add the eggs and stir slowly. (Note: If the mixture is too dry, let it sit for 10 minutes.) The mixture will be extremely loose and cabbagey, not like a flour pancake batter. A nonstick skillet should be heated to medium. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, scoop the cabbage mixture into the skillet after brushing it with olive oil. (If it doesn't appear cohesive, that's ok; it will come together as the egg cooks.) Use a spatula to carefully press the mixture into a 1/2-inch-thick layer. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until browned, lowering the heat as necessary. Repeat the process with the remaining mixture, cleaning the skillet as you go and adding extra oil as necessary. Making sure the okonomiyaki has been sufficiently cooked through to hold together is the most challenging step in the procedure. Add Worcestershire sauce to the Okonomiyaki with a brush. The okonomiyaki is then topped with mayonnaise, typically in zigzag patterns. Due to the fact that mayonnaise is a relatively recent addition to okonomiyaki, not everyone adds it. Add nori, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds as garnish. If desired, top with microgreens. Eating the okonomiyaki is the most fun process.