The Varieties of Okonomi-yaki
Okonomi-yaki can be made with a whole variety of fillings. Pork and cabbage is a standard ingredient, but fillings with octopus, mentaiko (hot and spicy cod roe), cheese, kimchi (hot and spicy Korean-style pickles), and mochi (Japanese rice cakes) are also popular. Okonomi-yaki can also be served with a layer of fried noodles, in which case it is referred to as Modan-yaki.
There are two main styles of Okonomi-yaki: Kansai style and Hiroshima style. The former mixes the fillings with the batter, while the latter spreads the batter in a crepe-like fashion and then layers it with cabbage, meat, fried noodles, egg or other fillings.
The origins of Okonomi-yaki can be traced to the dishes made from a flour and water batter that were served at the tea ceremonies of Sen no Rikyū, the 16th century figure who did so much to develop tea ceremony in Japan. During the Meiji era from the late 19th century, roadside stalls sold Yōshoku-yaki (‘western-style crepes’), consisting of crepes topped with flaked bonito, Welsh onions and a sauce. They were popular among the common folk. It is said that the dishes subsequently evolved into the Okonomi-yaki that exist today.