Gaijin is a cool, hip-vibe, casual, and modern Chicago West Loop restaurant showcasing familiar but yet re-invented flavors of okonomiyaki, yakisoba, korokke, and kakigori. The word "Gaijin" means a foreigner in Japanese and it is often used to call expats living in Japan. Chef Paul Virant marries his Midwestern New American flare to the Japanese street food staples by drawing his time living in Japan with his family immersing in the food culture to his interest and specialty in pickles.
We love authentic food but we also love how chefs from different cultural background can elevate flavors of other cultures through techniques and their own style of cooking. This restaurant concept and execution is truly exceptional, converting a person like me who doesn't normally like okonomiyaki or yakisoba to a lover. Gus has always been a lover of these dishes but no matter where I tried them on different occasions even in Japan or when I make them at home following someone else's recipe, it never hits the spot like Gaijin. As a bonus, Chef Paul Virant publishes his Osaka-style okonomiyaki recipe for you to try at home. Check this recipe out!
While bread making has been all the rage this year, one staple food that has not received as much love is the fresh homemade noodle. That's right. The fan’s favorite that many just can’t seem to get enough whether it is the smooth and silken wheat noodle or the chewy ramen noodle.
While spring never seems to truly arrive (in Chicago), it is not too early to enjoy the spring sweet treat. That’s right, it's time for Hanami Dango!! <花見団子> or Flower Viewing Dango. In Japan, these dumpling are usually enjoyed in early spring, and as the name suggest, during the flower viewing picnic. Hanami Dango usually come in three colors (red, white and green) For this recipe, we are going to use all natural coloring. However, it may be more convenient for some to use artificial color.
While Izakaya is the moment of indulgence (usually accompanied by panting busting food and generous amount of drinks), there are some menu that could considered to be on a healthier and yet still be flavorful.
One of such dish is the Japanese style Rapini Salad. Although the traditional version called for flowering mustard leaves, in the USA that could be hard to come by. A good substitute for this is found in a form of Rapini Broccoli, which has more leaves than flower when compare to broccoli.
This refreshing dish offers a lighter alternative to the usually heavy and oily food typically serve in izakaya restaurant. An who said Izakaya food can’t be healthy, may be?
It goes without saying that a Japanese meal is not complete without a soy-related component. Soy sauce, tofu, and miso paste, all derivatives of soy bean processed ingredients are known to be a healthy source of protein and seasoning (minus the sodium added).
Two home cooks creating and tasting dishes from our lovely city of Chicago. Follow our world wide adventure as we discover ingredients, dishes, recipes, and the foodie way of life.
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