Vegetarian okonomiyaki at Nagata-ya in Hiroshima. Nagata-ya is one of the most popular shops in town and offers several vegetarian-friendly options—a rarity in Japan. The highlight was slivers of fried garlic sprinkled on top.
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Things We Eat: Hiroshima Edition

“I’m not sure I can eat any more okonomiyaki.”

If you spend more than a few days visiting Hiroshima, this phrase might come out of your mouth as well. Every street has at least one shop featuring the city’s popular version of this quintessential Japanese food.

In case you’re not familiar, okonomiyaki is a savory pancake, made with a combination of batter, eggs, cabbage and other fillings, then topped with a sweet and salty sauce. Every region does it a little differently. In Osaka, all of the ingredients are mixed together, creating a solid slab of tastiness. In Tokyo, monjayaki is king, combining the ingredients with a runny, cheesy batter that is fried directly onto the griddle, then peeled off with a spatula.

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In Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, the batter is poured into a thin crepe, then the filling is placed on top. An egg is cracked onto the griddle, its yolk broken and cooked thin to create another “crepe” that goes on top. It’s more like a big sandwich than the Osaka version.

The kicker is the soba or udon noodles that are added to the filling, creating a carb-loaded meal that will keep you going for hours. While the original version was more of a snack, the modern version evolved in the post-World War II era as a way to combine cheap ingredients into a nutritionally-dense meal.

Momiji-manju

While the maple leaf-shaped cake known as momiji-manju can be found all over Japan, its origins are in Hiroshima, specifically the southern island of Miyajima. The cakes were created in the early-1900s in honor of the island’s famous maple leaf viewing festivals.

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We hadn’t even left Hiroshima Station when we came across our first momiji-manju. A shop inside the station sold a breaded, deep-fried version that was sinful and delicious. While they were originally made by hand, they’re now abundant throughout the city thanks to the complex automated baking and wrapping machines, many of which are on display in the Miyajama shops.

Hiroshima Sweets, Treats and Eats

There’s more to Hiroshima’s food scene than just okonomiyaki and momiji. Check out the gallery below for some of the other awesome sweets, treats and eats from the week.

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