Sauerkraut or sardines? Hiroshima’s pancake goes global for the G7 summit

When Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hosts leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy nations in Hiroshima this week, restaurants in the city are hoping to put a local specialty on the map that caters to foreign tastes.

The gateway to tourism on the western side of Japan’s main island, Hiroshima’s name is forever etched in history as the first city to experience the horrors of an atomic bomb nearly 78 years ago.

Kishida’s parliamentary constituency includes part of Hiroshima, a city of more than a million people, and 800 restaurants specializing in okonomiyaki, a delicious pancake that means „cooked as you like.”

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The ingredients in the signature dish include noodles, cabbage, flour and meat usually grilled on a hot metal griddle, but for G7, local restaurant trade group Oconomiyaki Academy dreamed up variations that included favorites from each country.

„You could say that okonomiyaki is the most popular soul food among people from Hiroshima,” said Atsuki Kitara, city-wide manager of the Shinchigurin chain.

„We thought a lot of customers would come here from different countries overseas, so we wanted to offer different flavors of okonomiyaki to suit their tastes.”

They include German sauerkraut, as well as a maple syrup-infused Canadian version and a carbonara style that pays homage to Italy. American tastes have burger meat, while the French version has cabbage, bean sprouts, bacon, cheese, okonomiyaki sauce and a fried egg, all wrapped in a crepe.

Some locals aren’t so sure about the new foreign fillings, such as a British-themed version with fried sardines and potato chips.

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„Fish and chips with Coke is fine,” office worker Shinya Otsuki said. „But I don’t think I could eat it this way.”

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