Recipe: Taichi Kitamura’s Okonomiyaki | Seattle Met

Recipe: Taichi Kitamura's Okonomiyaki |  Seattle Met

Okonomiyaki’s worldwide reputation walks more towards a drinking snack – a great way to offset an evening of beer and highballs. But when Taichi Kitamura grew up in Kyoto, the savory pancake was the centerpiece of many a family meal. Today, the chef and owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake prepares a serving at home perhaps once a month: “I cook a few for my family and freeze the rest to eat for lunch.”

His okonomiyaki relies heavily on vegetables (namely cabbage) and on visual drama, courtesy of all the classic garnishes. In the final moments of cooking, Kitamura adds sauce, seaweed, mayonnaise and gently whisking bonito flakes. A pan works fine, but “if you do this on a flat grill, it’s kind of entertaining” for others to watch. Adults appreciate the abundance of cabbage and green onion; Kitamura’s daughter less. Now she eats half a pancake, he says, ‘with a lot of mayonnaise’.


  • Garlic or other alliums
  • Ramen noodlesfresh or dried
  • savory vegetablessuch as kale, chicory, chard or cabbage
  • Other vegetableswhatever’s in the fridge
  • Your choice of umami or herbssuch as fish sauce, coconut aminos, curry or chili paste
  • Eggsone per person or per portion of noodles
  • Fresh herbs like basil or cilantro, maybe a few crunchy vegetables (carrots, radishes, etc.) cut into matches
  • Chili crispyto finish
  • cabbage1 large cup
  • green onions2 bunches
  • seafoodabout 1/2 cup (squid is typical, but cooked shrimp meat works great)
  • All Purpose Flower1 cup
  • Eggs4
  • dashi (water is also good), about 3/4 cup
  • Neutral oil
  • Bacon or thinly sliced ​​pork belly1/4 pound uncooked, sliced, or chopped
  • garnish (see below)

To step

  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise and cut out the core. Chop the rest until it is about the size of coleslaw. It doesn’t have to be uniform.
  2. Cut the green onions. Toss them in a bowl with the cabbage and your seafood.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and water until it has the consistency of a crepe or pancake batter. (Make it too thick and pancakes will be doughy.)
  4. Combine the batter with the seafood and vegetables and mix well.

  5. Add the eggs and mix. Kitamura likes to keep the eggs a little uneven; overmixing makes the pancakes tough.
  6. Scoop about a cup of batter on an oiled pan or flat top. Try to keep it a bit thick as the cabbage will reduce; aim for a 5-inch cake, something you can easily flip with a spatula. At Kitamura’s house, he usually bakes two pancakes at a time.
  7. If you use pork belly or bacon, put some on the pancake. Let it cook on medium heat for about five minutes.

  8. Use a spatula to check the bottom. Flip the pancake when the bottom is golden brown. If you flip the pancake prematurely, it will break.
  9. When it is finished, turn it around. With the meat side down in the pan, the fat is melted and the batter cooks until crispy. Let it cook until the pancake is golden brown and the pork is almost crispy.
  10. Turn the pancake over again so the other side can absorb some pork fat and become crispy.
  11. In these last minutes of cooking, lightly baste the tonkatsu sauce on the pancake. If there is some splashing down the sides and onto the pan, that’s okay. When it burns a little, it creates a nice, smoky, caramel-like flavor.

  12. Turn off the fire. Now it’s time to garnish. Drizzle over mayonnaise, followed by aonori and bonito flakes, if using.
  13. Transfer the pancakes on a plate or cutting board. Cut them into bite-sized pieces to serve


Tonkatsu sauce

Kitamura admits, everyone in Japan buys tonkatsu sauce from the store† “It’s like nobody here makes Tabasco sauce.”


Any American mayonnaise will work, but it’s best with Japanese kewpie mayo† Squeeze it straight from the tube onto the pancake.


Okonomiyaki asks for a pinch of powder or finely flaked seaweedinstead of the more familiar sheets of nori.

Bonito flakes (aka Katsuobushi)

Delicate flaked dried smoked fish add a savory note. “You put that on top and it kind of dances to it,” Kitamura says. “Kids love it. It’s fascinating.”

Heat up

Wrap okonomiyaki separately to freeze. When you need a quick lunch, pull one out, place on a plate and microwave for four minutes until center is hot. Kitamura likes to add his sauce and mayonnaise and then put it in the microwave again. “I like my sauce hot.”