wine me, dine me Cincinnati's pick of the week: Digging into Japanese pancakes at Quan Hapa

CINCINNATI - We are pleased to introduce a new weekly feature from Julie Niesen Gosdin, the voice behind the food blog wine me, dine me . Julie will be serving up a "Pick of the Week," when she visits a local eatery and samples a signature menu item.

Okanomiyaki at Quan Hapa

  • Where: 1331 Vine Street
  • Website: Quanhapa.com
  • Food: Asian street food like you wish your grandma made
  • Price range $10-12

Quan Hapa is a small, open restaurant in the Gateway Quarter. It's the second restaurant brought to you by the Lang Thang Group, which also owns Pho Lang Thang and Cafe Lang Thang.

It has an Asian feel with a diner vibe, communal seating, and a wide selection of Asian specialties from around the continent: everything from ramen to balut, the famous fermented duck egg.

A Japanese pancake

In Japanese, okanomiyaki means "grilled, your way." It's a dish that can be topped with nearly anything. Every cuisine has a dish that feels like it's made to use up leftovers, and this seems to be Japan's version.

 Okanomiyaki has become comfort food to me: a combination of egg, cabbage, okonomiyaki sauce (think a cross between worcestershire and thick soy sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, and a variety of toppings.

Quan Hapa serves up three varieties:

  1. vegetarian
  2. "house," which has bacon and egg
  3. prawn, which adds shrimp and bonito flakes to the mix 

When it comes to the table, okanomiyaki will remind you a little of a pizza, and it will become just as much a craving as pizza can be. Quan Hapa often has okonomiyaki specials, and if they do, get it: it's always delicious. This dish could easily be split between two people, or one very hungry person.

Why you should try it:

Simple: it's savory, crispy, familiar (yet exotic) and, in Cincinnati, only available at Quan Hapa.

Fun fact: Mayonnaise is huge in Japan, used in everything from ice cream, to potato chips, to noodles! There are dozens of varieties (made with rice wine vinegar) and it's a little sweeter than the American versions. You can find Kewpie (a popular Japanese mayonnaise brand) and other Japanese mayonnaise varieties at Jungle Jim's or CAM Asia Supermarket in Evendale .

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