3 of a Kind: How Okonomiyaki Is Making Waves

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

The savory Japanese pancake known as okonomiyaki may be nothing new in Asia, but it is certainly making waves in culinary circles across the United States. The word okonomi translates roughly as “how you like it,” and chefs here have been taking the definition to heart, personalizing the grilled pancake by piling on toppings such as ham, fried eggs, bacon and more. Here are three spots whose kitchens have put a new twist on the centuries-old Japanese dish.

Victor Tangos, Dallas

Along with its varied list of craft cocktails, this hip spot in the heart of Dallas offers an eclectic medley of shareable eats that draw in influences from around the globe. Japan’s autumnal flavors shine through in the okonomiyaki, which is made from a batter laced with kabocha squash. The pancake comes topped with Benton’s ham, shrimp and bonito flakes, along with a squirt of Japanese mayo, a drizzle of tonkatsu sauce and a sprinkling of scallions.

Hojoko, Boston

Amped-up versions of Japan’s classic pub grub take center stage at this spot set up like an izakaya (Japanese tavern). Hojoko takes okonomiyaki to the next level by piling on a whole smorgasbord of ingredients, including shitakes and smoked Nueske’s bacon. The batter features fresh-grated mountain yams, which make for a fluffier pancake. And standard store-bought condiments are swapped out for housemade versions: The tonkatsu sauce features dried fruit and dashi, while the mayo is tweaked with truffle.

Ramen-san, Chicago

Okonomiyaki is a brunch staple at this Chicago ramen joint, where diners have their choice of eating the savory pancake three different ways. Each option starts with the restaurant’s signature batter studded with Napa cabbage and a bit of pickled ginger. Once the pancake is cooked, it’s slicked with Japanese condiments (barbecue sauce and mayo) and adorned with a fried egg. The dish can be customized with add-ons that include crispy pork belly; Berkshire ham and American cheese; and 18-hour smoked brisket and braised octopus.

Photos courtesy of Scott Mitchell, Kristin Teig and Jeff Marini

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