Yakisoba is a classic Japanese dish made by stir-frying ramen style wheat noodles together with vegetables like cabbage, onion and carrots, and sometimes also meat. It is then flavored with a special yakisoba sauce which is sweet and savory in taste and topped with aonori (green seaweed powder) and served with shredded red pickled ginger called ‘beni shoga’. You’ll often find yakisoba sold at yatai’s (Japanese food stalls) during the many festivals in Japan or at izakaya and supermarkets. A popular way of eating yakisoba is on a hot dog style bun, called yakisoba-pan. Sliced open along the middle, yakisoba is placed on top of the bun and condiments such as beni shoga and aonori are also used. You can often find yakisoba-pan in convenient stores.
Yakisoba is often eaten along side another hugely popular Japanese food, okonomiyaki. ‘O-konomi’ meaning ‘how ever you like it’ and ‘yaki’ meaning ‘grill’, this savory pancake stemming from the Kansai area has many local varieties. Okonomiyaki was invented prior to World War II in the Kansai area. In the 1930’s, the use of the name ‘okonomiyaki’ was first recorded in Osaka. It became popular as a street food during and after the war because rice was scarce and its use of wheat was cheap. Later on, people experimented by adding different kinds of ingredients such as eggs and cabbages, thus the modern day okonomiyaki was born. The batter for okonomiyaki is made out of flour, grated nagaimo (a kind of yam), eggs, shredded cabbage and water or dashi. Depending on the variety, ingredients such as pork, seafood, vegetables and even noodles can be added to it. The mixture is then cooked on a teppan (iron grill), and topped off with a special okonomiyaki sauce, mayonaise, aonori and bonito flakes. As with yakisoba, okonomiyaki can be found at a lot of places with many restaurants specializing in this mouthwatering dish from the Kansai area.