I went out for okonomiyaki* with my host mother and father. It was DIY okonomiyaki, pretty common in Japan, where you mix the okonomiyaki batter at the table and cook it yourself over a teppan grill set into the table.
The menu was several pages long, with different combinations of okonomiyaki filling – mochi and cheese, seasonal mushroom, kimchi and squid – but what first caught my eye was the Hiroshima-yaki, a variation on okonomiyaki with noodles I’d had ten years ago on a student trip to Hiroshima.
Beneath the Hiroshima-yaki I saw something called modan-yaki that I’d heard of, but never tried. Both had noodles, and filling, and egg. What’s the difference? I asked the waiter. He explained: Hiroshima-yaki is made differently, with a thinner batter, and you add the ingredients in layers. Modan-yaki also has noodles, but the batter is like normal okonomiyaki batter, with the fillings mixed in. Plus modan-yaki comes with extra eggs.
Yep, sweet, sold.
The tray of ingredients arrived and the steps were as follows: heat oil on the teppan, place noodles on the teppan together so they form a roughly circular shape. Mix the batter well and pour over the noodles. Cook for five minutes, flip, cook another five minutes, flip, cook another five minutes. Crack the eggs on a clear surface of the teppan and transfer the noodle-crusted pancake on top of the eggs. Fry briefly until eggs are set. Slather with okonomiyaki sauce, give it a squirt of mayo, sprinkle over plenty of aonori and katsuobushi and eat.
It was good, solid (two-carb), tasty food. To be honest I don’t think it differed too much from a normal okonomiyaki because the noodles sort of embedded themselves in the batter and were only really discernible by their texture (slightly chewier than the rest of the batter). Still very good though. I love okonomiyaki, I love noodles, really this was an ideal dinner.
*a savoury Japanese pancake of sorts, with fillings like cabbage and squid and ham and green onion, cooked and then topped with a thick, sweet(ish) okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and aonori flakes (a bright green, dried seaweed) and shaved, dried bonito flakes. It’s the kind of Japanese food even a rice- or fish-hater can get on board with. It’s very good.