Taking the (Crab) Cake

Justin Vaiciunas of Top of the Pontch tweaks a classic Japanese dish

Justin Vaiciunas, executive chef at the Top of the Pontch at the Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront, says that this fusion dish — a Japanese crab cake called Okonomyaki — has been among his favorites for years. “It will always be on my menu,” he says of his signature dish. The idea behind all of his food is to take something familiar and adapt it to bring out different flavors. “And this one is a classic Japanese dish paired with the classic crab cake,” which he calls “a dish that every Detroiter loves.” — Molly Abraham

Crab Cakes (Serves 6)


12 eggs
4 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup sweet chili sauce like Mae Ploy
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup Sriracha hot sauce
4 cups flour

Cabbage Mix:

¼ red cabbage
¼ napa cabbage


2 tablespoons oil
½ pound sliced smoked bacon
½ pound canned crab

Spicy Mayo:
¼ cup Sriracha
4 cups mayonnaise


Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all batter ingredients until fully incorporated. Slice cabbages in half and remove the core. Shred with a chef knife and mix all cabbage together. Slice bacon into little rectangles. Mix Spicy Mayo ingredients until fully incorporated and set aside.

Place a nonstick 8-inch pan on medium-high burner. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once oil is hot add 2 ounces of bacon and let cook for about 30 seconds. Mix 1 cup of cabbage mix, 3 ounces of crab, and 1/2 cup of batter. Place on top of bacon while pan is hot. Flatten the cake over the whole pan. Cook until crispy on bottom side. Flip over and place on pan. Repeat with rest of ingredients. Place in preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until firm to touch. Place on a plate and garnish with Spicy Mayo.

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