Gaijin is Chicago’s first okonomiyaki restaurant, offering both Hiroshima and Osaka styles of the savory Japanese pancake.
Gaijin has a cool, hip vibe like so many restaurants in the West Loop. The restaurant itself can seat about 60 people, so it still feels private and intimate, and there’s some outdoor dining space available too. Personally, I loved how each table came with it’s own grill to ensure your food stays hot as it comes out.
As someone who tried to grab a reservation twice before finally snagging one, I’d say not to wait when doing so.
The service at Gaijin was perfect. I felt like we were waited on without it being too much. Our waitress made some great recommendations, and overall, different people checked in on us throughout the evening.
In terms of food, we really enjoyed everything we tried. The menu itself is broken down by starters, shared plates, sides, pancakes, dessert, and the tasting menu.
Because we couldn’t exactly choose what we wanted, we decided to go for the $39/person tasting menu. It included pickled veggies, noodles, a pancake, and dessert. Lots of food (happy hubby’s who go to finish off what we couldn’t…haha)!
The picked veggies were good. Not something I’d order on their own, but as a light starter, they worked.
Next came the noodles! These were simple yet tasty. My favorite part of this dish was the veggies. They were sautéed to perfection!
Next came the pancakes! I ordered the tofu and my sister went with the shrimp. These beauties – with cabbage, veggies, mayo sauce, and protein – were delish! I would come back to Gaijin just to eat my pancake again! The grill kept them super hot which was nice because you’ll definitely want to savor each bite.
And finally came dessert. Not my favorite course. My mochi donut came with a chocolate topping and my sister’s with a macha one. The thing that bothered me was that the donut itself wasn’t sweet AT ALL! I don’t love super sugary desserts but I need a little bit of sweet, especially after all that savory!
All in all, we really loved our meal at Gaijin! My sister and I both agreed that if we came back, we would order a couple of shared plates and the pancakes. That would make for a very satisfying meal!