The other Vancouver: Okonomiyaki

Previously on Marla In The Kitchen…

Trapped in the frozen Northeast, the Sweetie struggled to return home. Braving intermittent storms, winter-weary pedestrian hoards, surly cab drivers, and ice-coated airplane wings, he fought his way through insurmountable snowdrifts and escaped the negative fifteen degree temperature. Bad idea, Boston. Once he thawed, had a decent meal, and could walk outside unhindered by swaths of protective gear, he bloomed. How they—those East coast souls—survive one winter, then decide to stay for another, beats me. 

Anyways, we were home and made the best of it. After we visited family, saw a few bad movies, watched some spring baseball, rocked the NCAA brackets, and turned down a summer job in Houston, some of us got bored. Not me, my ability to do nothing amazes even me. Then one Friday when the sweetie was erranding, he got the call: a project in Vancouver, WA needed a trainer. Then I got the call: “Grab your coat and get your hat.”  By Monday we were in Vancouver; the sweetie was back in the saddle and I was back on the bus. 

Vancouver is just across the Washington border from Portland, OR—the poster child of all things cool. One of the coolest is Portland’s Japanese Garden, a long-time favorite. On our first free weekend we Garmined our way around a packed I-5, found a parking spot, and hiked up the path to the entrance. While the garden is stunning anytime, Spring is our season of choice. If you’re considering a new landscape plan for your yard in the Northwest, you’d be well served to visit this garden. It features a limited number of trees and shrubs, all perfectly suited to the climate: azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris, Japanese maples, camellias, and plenty of undisturbed moss. The beautifully authentic five acres includes a tea house, wandering streams, a pond full of well-fed koi, cobbled walkways, water features, and Zen sand and stone gardens. 


Give these Japanese pancakes a try—they’re delicious, quick, and doable. If you want a primer, check out YouTube for help. 


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha, more or less to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded with a mandoline or finely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
  • Chinese sausage
  • 3/4 cups (roughly) baby or chopped shrimp
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1-2 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • bonito flakes (optional)
Whisk the first set of ingredients together and voila, your sauce. Set aside while you make the pancakes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt.

Gradually add the flour until incorporated. Fold in cabbage, scallions, and shrimp.

Warm a couple glugs of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until glistening. Ladle the batter into the skillet.

Cook on each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Keep pancakes covered in a warm oven as you make the rest. Scatter sesame seeds and/or bonito flakes on top of pancakes and serve with dipping sauce 



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