Japanese Okonomiyaki is a savory cabbage pancake that’s also a popular street food in Japan. Generous drizzles of Okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayo, plus a generous handful of bonito flakes add so much flavor! Filling, satisfying, endlessly customizable, and completely delicious. And easy to make! The perfect snack or light meal.
What is Japanese Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki is a popular Japanese street food that’s best described as a savory cabbage pancake or frittata. Deliciously savory with a soft and fluffy texture — similar to a potato pancake — it’s incredibly tasty and versatile.
The flavor profile comes from plenty of finely shredded cabbage held together with eggs, flour, Japanese mountain yam, and savory dashi (anchovy broth). Generous drizzles of Okonomi sauce and Kewpie mayo plus a generous handful of Bonito flakes make this decadently rich and delicious.
Translated “how you like it” in Japanese, it’s also endlessly customizable. You can add whatever you like! My current favorite is bacon, kimchi, and a fried egg on top!
Surprisingly, Japanese Okonomiyaki is also very easy to make at home.
- Okonomiyaki Flour. Traditionally, Okonomiyaki batter is made with dashi (Japanese soup stock) and flour. Okonomiyaki flour combines both — flour mixed with instant dashi granules. A simple pantry staple that makes Japanese cabbage pancakes MUCH easier to make at home. Order online or find this item at Asian grocery stores. Both Otafuku (affiliate) and Nissin (affiliate) make good ones.
- Mountain Yam or Nagaimo. Optional ingredient but if you can find it, I highly recommend it. When grated, it will be very gooey-looking. A special ingredient that creates especially light + fluffy okonomiyaki!
- Cabbage. The main ingredient. You’ll need a lot! Shred finely for the right texture. If the cabbage is too thick, the resulting texture will be soggy. Green cabbage, Korean cabbage, Napa cabbage, or Savoy cabbage all work well. Just make sure the individual leaves are not too thick — they should be less than 1/4-inch thick. FYI, cabbage lasts a long time in the fridge so I always have it on hand!
- Green onion. Adds a light onion flavor and color.
- Okonomi Sauce. Similar to ketchup or sriracha, Okonomi sauce stores well in the fridge and lasts forever. Look for it at the Japanese grocery store. My favorite brand is Otafuku Okonomi Sauce (affiliate), which is also vegan.
- Kewpie Mayo. A staple in my Korean American pantry, Kewpie mayonnaise (affiliate) is a rich, eggy, slightly sweet Japanese mayo that lends richness and an extra dimension of flavor. An essential flavor component of Okonomiyaki.
- Bonito Flakes (Katsuobushi). Bonito flakes (affiliate) are paper-thin shavings of smoked, fermented tuna. The tuna is shaved off into curls and seem to dance when placed on top of hot food items. I recommend extra-large flakes for best flavor and texture.
- Kimchi + Fried Egg. My Korean American twists. I love this flavorful combo so much!
- Whisk batter together.
- Add cabbage + green onions.
- Cook okonomiyaki pancake.
- Drizzle with Okonomi sauce.
- Drizzle with Kewpie mayo.
- Add kimchi.
- Add fried egg
- Add bonito flakes. Enjoy!!
To make Okonomiyaki “as you like it,” feel free to add what you like. Some common additions:
- Pork Belly strips.
My version includes kimchi. That fermented, acidic bite is SO tasty!
Also, a fried egg. I think it’s the Korean in me that just loves a sunny-side-up egg on top of everything. Really adds another flavor dimension. YUM!
Essential Cooking Tools:
- Skillet. Typically, Japanese Okonomiyaki is made on a special grill called a teppan. To make easily at home, 3 options work well: stainless steel skillet, cast iron pan, or non-stick skillet. My favorite option is a cast iron pan, as the cast iron heats well and imparts good flavor.
- Lid or Cover. A covered skillet ensures a fully cooked and fluffy Okonomiyaki, as it allows steam to build and cook the cabbage pancake internally.
- Large metal spatula. To make flipping easier, I recommend a large fish spatula (affiliate).
- Handle Mountain Yam carefully. There’s an enzyme in Mountain Yam that can cause an allergic reaction. Feel free to wear gloves or do what I do: peel one end of the mountain yam and hold onto the other end that’s not peeled. That way, the raw mountain yam won’t be in contact with your skin.
- Finely chop cabbage. Shred cabbage as finely as possible. And choose cabbage that’s not too thick. Otherwise, the cooked pancake will be soggy.
- Use steam to achieve the right texture. Covering the Okonomiyaki with a tight-fitting lid is essential! That way, the steam builds and cooks the inside of the pancake so it’s light and fluffy instead of gummy and runny.
How do I eat Japanese Okonomiyaki?
Okonomiyaki can be eaten as a meal or snack. I enjoy eating Okonomiyaki for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a midnight snack. It’s very tasty and satisfying. The genius is that it’s a complete meal, all by itself!
How do I store leftovers?
Fully cooked okonomiyaki can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Reheat in the air fryer for 5 min at 400F. Or reheat in a non-stick skillet until hot and sizzling on both sides.
Can I freeze Okonomiyaki?
Yes, fully cooked Okonomiyaki freeze very well. Cook and cool the savory Japanese cabbage pancakes. Do not add toppings. Instead, transfer fulled cooked and cooled pancakes into a ziploc baggie and store in the freezer for 1-2 months. If freezing multiple okonomiyaki, add parchment paper in between so they don’t stick together.
To reheat, heat in an air fryer for 5 min at 400F – flipping halfway. Or reheat in a non-stick skillet until hot and sizzling on both sides. Then add the Okonomiyaki sauce, kewpie mayo, and other toppings of choice!
Other easy snacks to make at home:
- Carbonara Tteokbokki
- Air Fryer Hong Kong style French Toast
- Korean Kimchi Rice Balls (Jumeok Bap)
- Korean Street Toast
- Spicy Tuna Gimbap
Japanese Okonomiyaki with Kimchi + Fried Egg
- well seasoned large Cast Iron Skillet (or non-stick skillet OR stainless steel skillet)
- tight-fitting lid
- Large spatula
- 1/2 cup Okonomiyaki Flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup Mountain yam, grated + peeled
- 2 cups cabbage, chopped finely
- 4 green onions, chopped finely
Toppings (for 2 Okonomiyaki):
- Okonomi Sauce
- Kewpie Mayo
- 1/4 cup kimchi, divided
- 2 large eggs (preferably organic or free run)
- 2 handfuls Bonito Flakes (Katsuobushi), divided
- Make batter. In a large bowl, add Okonomiyaki flour, water, eggs, and grated Mountain Yam. Whisk well, making sure there are no lumps.
- Add cabbage + green onions. Add finely shredded cabbage and shopped green onions. Switch to a rubber spatula and mix until well combined. The cabbage and batter should cling together loosely.
- Cook Okonomiyaki. Heat skillet to medium heat. Add 1-2 tsp oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add half the batter and shape into a thick, round pancake, using the spatula to pat the edge into a circle. Cover and lower the heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the Okonomiyaki, cover, and cook for another 5 minutes. This allows steam to build and fully cook the inside of the pancake.
- Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm (or keep in a 200F oven). Repeat until you have 2 pancakes.
- Add toppings. For each Okonomiyaki, drizzle Okonomi Sauce in zig zags. Then add Kewpie Mayo in zig zags, going in the opposite direction. Add kimchi directly on top. Then add fried egg. Top with bonito flakes. Enjoy immediately!