Hiroshima’s ‘okonomiyaki’ will greet G-7 leaders with different layers of flavor

HIROSHIMA – To host world leaders ahead of the Group of Seven summit in May, a local association here has created new “okonomiyaki” recipes that add layers of each country’s flavors to the local Hiroshima cuisine.

Restaurant workers and others affiliated with the okonomiyaki industry are preparing to serve as Hiroshima prepares to host the G-7 summit between leaders of France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. Local food service to the guests coming from abroad.

“Oconomiyaki Academy,” a publicly incorporated foundation in Hiroshima’s Nishi District, is conducting research and efforts to spread okonomiyaki, a delicious flatbread made of dough, cabbage, meat, eggs, and other ingredients. Kansai-style or Osaka-style okonomiyaki, which is widely eaten in Japan, mixes the dough and ingredients before grilling, while Hiroshima-style is created by spreading the ingredients in layers while the dough is cooked thinly. crepe. Although thin, Hiroshima okonomiyaki is known to be very hearty, as it typically includes soba noodles. Literally meaning “cooked how you want”, okonomiyaki can also be filled with other optional items such as seafood, according to customers’ preferences.

Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, right and hamburger buns, left, are cooked to create an “American-yaki” hybrid dish in Nishi Ward, Hiroshima City, February 20, 2023. (Mainichi/Kazuki Iwamoto)=Click/tap photo for more images

The association has developed different versions of okonomiyaki, some of which take cues from hamburgers and pizza, incorporating the food culture of each G-7 member country. The dishes were unveiled to the city press on February 20, and the recipes are set for use at okonomiyaki restaurants in Hiroshima.

The recipes were created by Oko-novation, the Oconomiyaki Academy Team, established in November 2022 to spread Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki culture to the world. To examine the food culture and representative dishes of the G-7 countries, the team conducted an online survey targeting overseas students and resident foreigners at Hiroshima University. Based on these results, two to three recipes per country have been tested since December and these were completed in January 2023. With a change in ingredients and sauce ingredients, they have become hybrid concoctions of okonomiyaki and dishes of each country.

Experimenting by mixing cultures, finding common ground

Kazuharu Kawamoto, 45, and others from the Oconomiyaki Academy involved in the project aimed to find similarities between the food of Hiroshima and the G-7 countries. For example, “America-yaki” sandwiching a small okonomiyaki between buns was inspired by how the multi-layered style of Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki resembles the sandwich culture of the United States.

Inspired by the G-7 countries to attend the Hiroshima summit in May, Okonomiyaki dishes were introduced at an event held in Hiroshima’s Nishi Ward on February 20, 2023. (Mainichi/Kazuki Iwamoto)=Click/tap photo for more pictures.

Meanwhile, “English-yaki” was stuffed with fish and chips, while “German-yaki” mixed potatoes with other ingredients. Both foods are said to have fed hungry residents in the face of food shortages and the 18th century Industrial Revolution. “This is similar to the history of okonomiyaki, which fed the people of Hiroshima amid the devastation of the post-war era,” Kawamoto said.

However, not all countries’ ingredients overlap well with okonomiyaki. “Canadian-yaki” was created by baking layers of dough and apples before topping them with maple syrup and okonomiyaki sauce. Kawamoto laughed, “It was hard to get close. Is it okay for Okonomiyaki to turn into a sweet dessert?” I hesitated thinking.

The association encourages its nearly 250 member restaurants to create their own original variations based on the recipes, while also preparing to present menu items at summit-related events.

At a press release event held on February 20, Oconomiyaki Academy Representative Director Shigeki Sasaki expressed his desire that the new dishes be eaten by the leaders of each G-7 nation, saying, “Okonomiyaki is a food that can be added and removed and can accommodate international diversity. It’s a dark age but I’m at the summit. On this occasion, I want to spread Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki to the whole world with messages of peace.”

(Japanese original Kazuki Iwamoto, Hiroshima Bureau)

In pictures: Hiroshima’s beloved ‘okonomiyaki’ dish takes on the flavors of the G-7 countries