Okonomiyaki is a savory, fried pancake-like dish concocted in postwar Hiroshima and famed as the city's emblematic soul food. There is no better way to discover the uniqueness of okonomiyaki Hiroshima-style than by learning to make it yourself at the city's Okosta (Okonomiyaki Experience Studio), a dedicated but casual cooking school and restaurant run by okonomiyaki experts Otafuku. This local company, among the first to develop dedicated sauces especially for the dish, is a household name across Japan.
All the fun takes place around a giant, pool-table-sized teppan hot plate that accommodates up to 10 visitors. There are four such tables on the premises, bringing Okosta's total capacity to 40 people. After visitors don a chef's apron and hat, enthusiastic (and English-speaking) staff will guide them through the cooking process with simple instructions. Unlike regular restaurants, where cooked okonomiyaki is brought to the hot plate for diners to eat, here visitors start from scratch, first pouring batter onto the hot plate in concentric circles to create a base.
Next, layers of ingredients, including meat, noodles, egg, and vegetables, are gradually added. This structure, together with a mountain of cabbage, is what makes Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki unique: in Osaka, for example, the fillings are mixed together before cooking. Visitors can savor their finished creation right at the giant hot plate, drizzled with one of Otafuku's fine sauces.