Okonomiyaki vs takoyaki: How do they differ?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  August 12, 2022

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If you’re looking for a delicious and unique Japanese dish to try, you can’t go wrong with either okonomiyaki or takoyaki. But which is which again?

Takoyaki is the more popular of the two dishes, but both are gaining in popularity. Okonomiyaki is made with flour, eggs, cabbage, pork, and seaweed, while takoyaki is made with octopus, tempura batter, pickled ginger, and green onion.

Both dishes are incredibly tasty and will leave you wanting more. The combination of flavors and textures in each dish is sure to please your taste buds.

Okonomiyaki vs takoyaki

Takoyaki is

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Favorite Asian Recipes
the octopus ball, and okonomiyaki the pancake. Although the batter and sauces are similar, there are some differences to make takoyaki easier to get into a ball shape and okonomiyaki into a light pancake, and the ingredients differ as well.

What is okonomiyaki?

This is okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a type of Japanese pancake that is made with a variety of ingredients. The most common ingredients include flour, eggs, cabbage, pork, and seaweed. Other common ingredients include shrimp, squid, vegetables, and cheese.

The word “okonomi” means “to your liking”, so you can add whatever ingredients you like to your okonomiyaki.

What is takoyaki?

This is takoyaki

Takoyaki are octopus balls, and so they aren’t made with the same ingredients as okonomiyaki. The main ingredient in takoyaki is, of course, octopus. Other common ingredients include tempura batter, pickled ginger, and green onion.

Takoyaki are usually served with a sweet sauce and mayonnaise. The combination of the savory octopus with the sweet sauce is delicious and addicting.

Differences and similarities

They do look very different from each other, but there are also many similarities:

How are both made?

Okonomiyaki and takoyaki are both cooked on a griddle or grill. The batter for each dish is slightly different, but the cooking method is the same.

Takoyaki is grilled in a special grill with holes for each ball, while okonomiyaki is cooked on a flat griddle.

Differences in origin

Okonomiyaki is from Osaka and the Kansai region, and takoyaki is from there as well.

Takoyaki was invented during WWII in Osaka as a way to make use of leftover tempura batter. It quickly became popular among the people of Osaka and has since spread throughout Japan.

Okonomiyaki is said to have originated in Osaka during the Edo period. The dish was originally called “funoyaki”, which means “grilled pancake”.

Okonomiyaki vs takoyaki batter

The main difference between the batter of okonomiyaki and takoyaki is the addition of dashi or soup stock in takoyaki. Dashi adds flavor and moisture to the batter, making it more savory.

Takoyaki batter also has a higher flour ratio to water, making it thicker. This helps the balls keep their shape better when they are cooked.

Okonomiyaki batter is thinner and has a higher ratio of water to flour. This makes the pancakes flatter and crepe-like in texture.

The flavors of each dish

Okonomiyaki is a savory dish or perhaps side dish, while takoyaki is more of a snack or street food. Both are usually served with a sweet sauce on top, although the sauces differ slightly in flavor.

The combination of ingredients in each dish also contributes to the difference in flavor. Okonomiyaki is made with cabbage, pork, and seaweed, while takoyaki is made with octopus, tempura batter, pickled ginger, and green onion.

The different textures

Another difference between okonomiyaki and takoyaki is the texture. Takoyaki has a crispy exterior from the tempura batter and a soft and gooey center. Okonomiyaki is more dense and chewy in texture.

Is takoyaki and okonomiyaki sauce the same?

No, the sauce for takoyaki is different from the sauce for okonomiyaki. Takoyaki sauce is sweeter and has a more pronounced Worcestershire flavor, while okonomiyaki sauce is saltier and has a more soy sauce flavor.

Also read: can I use takoyaki sauce for okonomiyaki and vice versa?

What is the best way to eat each dish?

Some people like to eat takoyaki with their hands, but it is more common to use toothpicks while on the go. Takoyaki are usually served on a small paper plate on the street with toothpicks for easy eating.

Okonomiyaki can be eaten with special spatulas or chopsticks (or with a fork and knife). It is usually cut into small pieces when eating it.

Conclusion

Both dishes are delicious and satisfying, so it really comes down to personal preference! Do you like your pancakes savory or sweet? Soft or crispy? With octopus or without? The choice is yours.

Also read: can I use takoyaki flour for okonomiyaki, or are they too different?

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.