Gaijin by Chef Paul Virant is Chicago’s first dedicated okonomiyaki restaurant, offering both Hiroshima and Osaka styles of the savory Japanese pancake. A self-described gaijin, or “outsider” in Japanese, Virant playfully embraces this perspective and honors traditional preparations and techniques, as well as his well-known passion for pickling and preserving.
The menu incorporates ingredients from local farmers and suppliers and frequently features seasonal specials highlighting Midwest produce. Designed to deliver a lively and interactive culinary experience, the 60-seat space is anchored by a custom 12-foot griddle and chef’s counter and offers individual Hiroshima teppan griddles for table service. The dessert menu features kakigori, a shaved ice dessert, along with mochi donuts. The bar program showcases highballs and a focused selection of beer — including a Moody Tongue-Gaijin collaboration house lager, sake, Japanese whisky, and wine.