atisfy your Okonomiyaki cravings with this newly opened Japanese restaurant named Gaijin located at West Loop which makes it as the first restaurant in Chicago dedicated to offering as to what pizza represents to most Americans - Okonomiyaki.

Okonomiyaki is a disc-shaped Japanese comfort food crisped on a griddle and topped with proteins, sauces, and cabbage.

Photo from Eater Chicago

The veteran Chicago chef Paul Virant opens the said restaurant to reminisce how New York-style pizza is different from Chicago style. Virant offers the original Okonomiyaki flavor of Osaka which highlights ingredients mixed into the batter. Another variation is from the historical Hiroshima which uses more cabbage. On a side note, the Gaijin okonomiyaki is customizable! So you can order yakisoba noodles to top your okonomiyaki or any way you want.

Virant’s wife, Jennifer, spent a semester in Japan years ago which introduced the family to the dish. In an interview with Eater Chicago, Virant said that it has been years of development and research. 

Photo from Eater Chicago

“Outside of Japanese Americans, I don’t think there’s a lot of Americans doing okonomiyaki at home,” he said.

In general, Japanese food has found its way home in the American limelight compared to other international cuisines. Out of the five newly minted Michelin-starred restaurants in Chicago, four of them are Japanese restaurants. However, Virant’s vision to Gaijin is to make it more accessible than other restaurants.

Photo from Eater Chicago

Virant has spent time and effort in research on the website Okonomiyaki World and made the book Okonomiyaki: Japanese Comfort Food written by Yoshio Saito as his inspiration. 

“We just want to do it as well as we can,” he added.

Visit Gaijin at 950 W. Lake Street at West Loop and is open daily from 11 a.m. till 11 p.m.

Nov 19, 2019

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