Most people view pancakes as breakfast food, though IHOP and Ron Swanson might disagree.  Since moving to Japan, we have eaten many random foods we would have never considered as palatable in the states.  I can say, without a doubt, that we have definitely expanded our food horizons (and our definition of edible).

It seems like everywhere you turn in Japan, there are large food advertisements, enticing you and your taste buds to try something new.  It’s great, but we still don’t always know what we are eating.  Our recent food adventures have taken us to Okonomiyaki お好み焼き, which we have seen defined on many menus as “Japanese Pancake.” I’m not sure I would call it a pancake, although it is kind of flat and in the shape of a circle.  Perhaps a thin, circular, grilled casserole would make for a more accurate description.

I’ll be honest….it looks kind of horrible.  In fact, it looks kind of disgusting the first time you see it, so we have always avoided these okonomiyaki restaurants.  This all changed last fall while we were in Kyoto.  I think we were really just tired of walking, but whatever the reason, we stumbled into an okonomiyaki restaurant.  What a pleasant surprise!  It turns out we picked a good place to start eating okonmiyaki, as it originated in nearby Osaka.  Though it is prepared differently in various regions of the country, the notion of the “pancake” remains the same.  Basically there is some flour batter and you can add whatever you want to the dish!

We chose mochi, shrimp, and beef, and watched as cabbage and noodles were added as well.  Some restaurants allow you make your own on a grill in the middle of the table, but we like paying other people to make our food.   In any case we tried a new food that is delicious, and in true Japanese style, we properly drizzled our meal with a copious amount of mayonnaise!