Subscribe Search

Search form

Akane is filling Phnom Penh’s okonomiyaki void

Yoshihiko Sugiura splits up an okonomiyaki, a sort of Japanese pizza-pancake hybrid, at Akane.
Yoshihiko Sugiura splits up an okonomiyaki, a sort of Japanese pizza-pancake hybrid, at Akane. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Akane is filling Phnom Penh’s okonomiyaki void

There's a new okonomiyaki joint in town, and fortunately manager Yoshihiko Sugiura was on hand yesterday to explain what exactly that means.

Okonomi means “how you like it”, while yaki means “grill”, he said. There have been other okonomiyaki in Phnom Penh but, as far as Sugiura knows, the newly opened Akane is the only one currently standing.

Referred to by some as “Japanese pizza”, or probably more aptly “savoury Japanese pancake”, the basic concept is taking a flour-and-egg-based batter, adding cabbage, green onions, ginger and a choice of meat, and griddling it on a flat-top grill. It’s then topped with a sweet and salty veggie-based sauce, mayonnaise, seaweed and bonito flakes.

“Okonomiyaki is born in Osaka [as] . . . a soul food . . . in western Japan” he said.

Sugiura and his wife Akane, after whom the restaurant is named, are from Tokyo, where the dish migrated over its several centuries in existence. Ever since an okonomiyaki restaurant near Tuol Sleng closed its doors, there has been a clear market niche to fill.

“It’s a very popular food . . . In Japan they eat it two times per week, so the [Japanese people in Phnom Penh] needed their okonomiyaki restaurant,” Akane said.

The couple moved to Cambodia in July last year after working in advertising in Thailand for several years. Originally intending to open their own advertising firm in the Kingdom, they soon realised they needed to better know the local market, so instead they took up an offer from the prospective restaurant owner to run Akane, which opened its doors in November.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An okonomiyaki gets the finishing touches – a shower of mayonnaise – before being plated. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

The boxy little joint located on Street 101 in Russian Market has a typical Japanese set-up, with a red-painted exterior and a sliding wooden door. Inside is a long bar lining the grill where the magic happens. With the soul food comes a bevy of booze options, including beer, whiskey, sake and plum wine.

Iced tea accompanies the meal, as does a spatula for chopping up the hefty concoction. Customers choose between a traditional okonomiyaki ($6 to $8), or a “modern” style ($7.5-$10), which sits on a bed of grilled noodles. In terms of meat, there is pork, squid or shrimp with egg.

For Akane, her preference is the Negi-yaki, with spring onions and pork, and for Yoshihiko it’s a modern pork and egg yaki. There is also the option to mix all the meat options, and add toppings like extra egg, cheese, kimchi and more.

In short, you can have it how you like it.

Akane is located at #4 Street 101 and is open from 11:30am-2pm and 5:30pm-10pm every day except Tuesdays. Tel: 086 861 987


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Cambodia, states clash at UN session

    Cambodia traded shots with the international community in a heated exchange at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday evening, with states condemning the Kingdom’s ongoing crackdown on the political opposition and civil society, and an increasingly agitated Cambodia accusing member states