= Osaka “pajeon” pop-up =

4 min readJul 2, 2021

— Korean style pajeon 파전 scallion pancakes with seafood

Here is a story about another Korean dish being offered as Japanese. Toss a few bonito flakes on top of pajeon, squirt some MSG ajinomoto kewpie sauce, then it becomes a Japanese, just as serving miso soup with a hamburger turns into washoku.

The non-Asian American goes to Japan for yearlong immersive Japanese language program in Osaka.

He gets a taste of ethnic Korean 파전 pajeon street food there.

But thinking it is all Japanese, since Osaka without acknowledging the Korean heritage promoted pajeon as outstanding Osaka official representative city food and openly promote the appropriation as essemtial Japanese, he opens a pop-up street food restaurant back in the US, copying the Osaka style format. Complete with intent on serving “shochu.’.


Japanese savory pancake made by mixing a rich batter with cabbage, green onions, pickled ginger, tenkasu and Nagano. Fried on both sides and topped with okonomi sauce, Kewpie mayo, seaweed flakes, bonito flakes, and one topping.

But modified with lots of ajinomoto msg laden in the Kewpie and bonito.

This “pop-up” street food restaurant in Atlanta even copied the 포장마차 pojangmacha / 포차 pocha tented cart concept which never see in Kyoto or Tokyo.

Since ancient times soba to modern times yakiniku and pajeon, unacknowledged Korean influences are hidden to make “Japanese” food more interesting. Unwittingly, Westerners might promote it all as Japanese.

Check Out the Menu For East Atlanta Japanese Street Food Restaurant OK Yaki
https://atlanta.eater.com/2020/12/15/22 … lanta-menu

— Okonomiyaki OK Yaki

Okonomiyaki pop-up OK Yaki opens Tuesday, December 15, as a restaurant in East Atlanta. The Osaka-style street food restaurant, owned by Corban Irby, resides in the renovated Seville complex along Moreland Avenue, next door to Hodgepodge Coffeehouse.

OK Yaki currently offers seating on its heated patio as well as takeout. Masks are required when not seated at a table. Once the restaurant opens for indoor seating, the dining room accommodates 45 people between a 15-seat bar open to the kitchen, four booths, and six bar stools along the wet bar in back.

The menu for OK Yaki mimics Irby’s popular pop-up, serving Osaka-style street foods like yakisoba noodles, gyoza dumplings, and okonomiyaki — a savory, onion and cabbage-filled griddled pancake topped with meats or vegetarian proteins and okonomi sauce. Irby expanded the menu for the restaurant to include other dishes, such as karaage Japanese fried chicken, Japanese curry, aged onigiri, and a burger made with beef, kelp, and bonito topped with mozzarella, coleslaw, and okonomi sauce.

Expect shochu, whiskey highballs, and Japanese-style draft beers in frozen mugs from the bar once the restaurant receives its liquor license. For now, OK Yaki remains BYOB.

Irby’s love for Osaka, Japan, and okonomiyaki began when he was a student at Georgia State University and entered the school’s exchange program with Osaka University.

Irby says the year living and eating in Osaka had a “huge impact” on him, calling the experience an “immersive Japanese language program.”

“I tried to be happy working a full-time office job, but I missed cooking Japanese food so much that I decided to start the Ok Yaki pop-up as a way to feel fulfilled,” Irby told Eater in May of the impetus behind the pop-up.

The first in a series of OK Yaki pop-ups launched out of the kitchen at We Suki Suki in East Atlanta Village in 2016. Irby has returned to Osaka and Japan several times over the last decade to continue his culinary training at various restaurants.

Diaspora, Exclusion and Appropriation: The Cuisine of the Korean Minority in Japan
Christopher Laurent
University of San Francisco
https://www.usfca.edu/journal/asia-paci … n2/laurent

Cities with historically large Korean populations have also adopted the cuisine of Korean residents as their own. The city of Fukuoka’s proximity to the Korean Peninsula made it an ideal settling point for many Koreans.

One of the city’s specialties, spicy cod row (karashi mentaiko), is now considered a Japanese dish.

Also, the city of Osaka has by far the largest population of Zainichi Koreans and their influence on the local cuisine can hardly be ignored.

Savory scallion and seafood pancakes called chidjimi are common street food in the city and a likely precursor to Japanese okonomiyaki, a dish that is the pride and joy of Osaka residents.

Many of Osaka’s Korean residents hail from Jeju Island which still influences the city’s foodways. For example, the Jeju regional dish of abalone porridge (jeonbok-juk) is sold in many Zainichi Korean restaurants under the Japanese name awabi gayu.