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Japanese Food Article

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)


    Introduction to Monkayaki

    Monjayaki, also known simply as monja, is a classic dish from Japan and a renowned specialty of Tokyo. This savory Japanese cuisine falls under the category of pancakes, distinguished by its watery consistency compared to Okonomiyaki. The name of this dish can vary depending on the specific region where it is prepared. Essentially, it involves creating a batter by mixing wheat flour with water, which is then poured onto a hot iron plate for cooking.

    Other than the Kansai-style Okonomiyaki, Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, and Negiyaki we have known so far, Monjayaki is part of them too. They are examples of savory Japanese-style pancakes. Now, let’s get to know what Monjayaki is.

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)


    Monyaki’s name came from a snack Japanese calls “Mojiyaki.” The name mojiyaki means “grilled letters” because children would come to this snack shop and practice writing letters in the gooey mojiyaki batter.

    What is Monjayaki?

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    Monjayaki, which can also be known as just monja, is like okonomiyaki but uses different liquid ingredients. It is a local Tokyo dish and is one of those savory Japanese-style pancakes. It is a fun dish where you start with a bowl of chopped-up ingredients, then fry them on an iron plate. Japanese add some liquid ingredients, made from water or dashi (simple broth made from dried kelp and bonito fish flakes in water), flour, and sauce. It gives a more dough-like appearance. 

    Locals mix up everything and it ends up being runnier than okonomiyaki. It can end up with a feeling of eating melted cheese. The consistency is prone to change and can become crunchy. It is a unique experience dish from the way Japanese cook it to the way they eat it.

    Monjayaki History

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    Now, let us know what monjayaki history is about. This regional dish has a long history in Japan. Locals believe that it has originated from a snack called “mojiyaki”. In the Meiji Period, it was born in an area around Tokyo. It is without a doubt a popular in a snack shop called Dagashiya in Tsukishima. The name mojiyaki means “grilled letters” because children would come to this snack shop and practice writing letters in the gooey mojiyaki batter. 

    You could only eat it if you went to the iron plate in the candy shop, as it was not something you could easily take home. In the olden days where rice was scarce, more people brought flour into their diets. Monjayaki allowed for a way to use a variety of ingredients and flour to make a creative dish. It is fun to know that it is use to be just a snack for children and now all ages love it. 

    Is Monjayaki available in Tokyo only?

    cooking monjayaki

    The answer is no. Although this pancake dish is originally from Tokyo, Monjayaki is also available in other prefectures. Monja from other prefectures are almost similar. However, there can be a little difference too. Curious to know which areas have Monjayaki too? Check the list below then.

    Kagawa Prefecture

    Sanuki Monjayaki is the name of Kagawa’s version. Since the prefecture is famous for its Sanuki Udon, they named their monja after it. Therefore, the name Sanuki Monjayaki began. It is now one of the local dishes in Kagawa Prefecture.

    Saitama Prefecture

    In Saitama, Monjayaki is a children’s snack. Several candy stores are selling this until late 1980s. Nowadays, it is very rare these to see these stores.

    Tochigi Prefecture

    Tochigi’s “Ashikaga Monja” is the prefecture’s version of Monjayaki. Similarly, locals bake the crepes thinly and uses water and flour only. It also comes in shoyu and worcestershire sauce flavor. Today, only a few shops that offer Ashika Monja is existent.

    Gunma Prefecture

    Many people believe that the origin of “Isesaki Monjayaki” started due to Gunma is in the middle of Asakusa and Saitama. Hence, the people adapted this dish too.

    During early times, there were many poor households in the area. They combined soy sauce, curry powder, and strawberry syrup to make the monja’s sauce.

    Monjayaki Recipe

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    We will learn about monjayaki recipe but first let’s get to know all the ingredients. Monjayaki ingredients that locals typically used are pork, squid, scallops, shrimp, egg, clams, oysters, tuna, cheese, corn, cod roe. They also add a variety of vegetables like cabbage and carrots. 

    How to Make Monjayaki?

    You now know what are the ingredients needed, so now, you will learn how to make monjayaki.

    Chopped ingredient

    We begin with a bowl of ingredients that are chopped up and ready to grill.

    Heat up the iron plate

    You spread oil on the iron plate and let it get hot before you start placing the ingredients in. You will be using the spatula to mix and stir-fry the ingredients together. 

    Making batter

    Then make the batter with a mix of flour, water, and sauce-like Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.

    Shaping the monjayaki

    Spread the ingredients into a donut shape and pour the batter into the middle, so it is surrounded and will not leak out. 

    Started boiling

    Once the batter starts to boil, you can mix all the ingredients and spread them around. It will start looking half-cooked which makes it time to eat. 


    Pressing the food down into the grill with the spatula allows for it to stick easier to it too. You can serve it with Japanese mayonnaise or Tonkatsu sauce to top it off with a bonus flavor.

    Monjayaki vs Okonomiyaki

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    While okonomiyaki is popular in the Kansai and Hiroshima area, monjayaki is popular in the Kanto (Tokyo) area. Okonomiyaki batter has all the ingredients mixed and molded into a pancake-like shape when cooked. Then, the Japanese topped it with sauce, mayonnaise, dry seaweed, and other condiments like bonito flakes for flavor. Monjayaki batter is softer and locals spread it evenly throughout the iron plate. The batter consists of mixing wheat flour with Worcester sauce and dashi stock, so it is watery and runny.

    How to eat monjayaki?

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    Because locals make monjayaki by cooking the main ingredients first, spreading them into a circle on the grill, and then pouring the batter into the center. They often eat it when it is partially or half-cooked, using a spatula-shaped spoon.

    What does Monjayaki taste like?

    Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き)

    The flavor of monjayaki resembles that of okonomiyaki, possibly due to the sauce, but the consistency sets them apart; monjayaki is soft and reminiscent of scrambled eggs, whereas okonomiyaki has a crispier texture. Despite this difference, the taste of monjayaki was a delightful surprise.

    Recommended Monjayaki Restaurants

    When dining at a restaurant, you can savor the delicious grilled food either by cooking it yourself on a hot iron plate or having it prepared in front of you by the chef. Tokyo offers a vibrant street full of restaurants specializing in this unique dining experience known as monja. With a wide selection of raw ingredients to choose from, you can customize your meal to suit your preferences. Don’t miss out on trying this must-have dish when visiting Tokyo for an unforgettable culinary adventure.


    Asakusa Rokubunsen is a long-established Asakusa monjayaki restaurant founded in 1980 (Showa 55). The restaurant is known for its traditional taste and atmosphere, numerous media mentions, popular Camembert Monja and the ability to accommodate large groups.

    Asakusa Rokubun Sen is also known as a restaurant that embodies the downtown culture of Asakusa. The humanity of the downtown area, simple flavours, a strong local presence, traditional production methods and a downtown atmosphere are the hallmarks of this long-established restaurant.

    Address: 1-16-9 Tsukishima, Chuo 104-0052, Tokyo Prefecture
    Phone number: 81 3-3533-4555
    Hours: Weekdays – 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, Weekends – 11:00 am to 9:30 pm


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