Despite the fact that Tokyo is nearly 6,000 miles away, the Twin Cities is home to plenty of tasty examples of Japanese cuisine. We have ramen. We have sushi. And now, we have crepes.
But aren’t those a French thing?
“With Japanese crepes, the ingredients are inside, like an ice cream cone,” explains Ichigo Tokyo Crepes owner Mia Oi. “With French crepes, they’re on top.”
In Japan, those fillings often include whipped cream and strawberries (the namesake of Oi’s business—“ichigo”—is the Japanese word for strawberry), and presentation is everything. The elaborate placement of fruit and garnishes makes Japanese crepes seem purpose-built for Instagram, although they predate the platform by a few decades.
Oi first brought Japanese crepes to the Twin Cities via farmers markets and pop-ups at Corner Coffee and Keg and Case.
“The pop-ups, the farmers markets, that’s how I got confidence,” she says. “I realized this is what Minneapolis wants.”
So she’s opening a brick-and-mortar iteration of Ichigo Tokyo Crepes, in the former Fish Bowl Poke space next to Ramen Kazama in south Minneapolis. The grand opening is scheduled for November 1. (That's today!)
The creperie will offer a menu of both savory and sweet crepes, including ham and cheese, chicken sesame, and strawberry custard. Size-wise, the savory crepes make for a substantial snack, and the sweet crepes serve as a satisfying dessert.
We started off sampling the ham and cheese crepe, which is stuffed with thinly sliced ham, melted cheese, and a delectable housemade spicy mayo that steals the show. The chicken sesame crepe also features a housemade sauce—a low-key sesame ginger—and chunks of well-seasoned chicken. We appreciated that both savory crepes included a generous portion of romaine lettuce, which was a crisp, refreshing contrast to the crepes’ toothsome chewiness.
If your goal is to score an Instagram-worthy photo, you’ve got to order the strawberry custard crepe: Artfully arranged strawberry halves surround a mound of whipped cream, garnished with sprinkles and a jaunty pink Pocky stick. Hidden from view is a spoonful of vanilla custard and a sprinkling of cornflakes, a nice counterpoint to the fluffy whipped cream.
While it might not have as much of a visual punch, our favorite crepe was the Monkey Business: Nutella, sliced bananas, and lots and lots of whipped cream. The banana-chocolate-hazelnut hits all the right flavor notes. (Really, can you ever go wrong with Nutella?)
Going forward, Oi plans to expand the menu to include a vegetarian savory crepe, such as crispy tofu. Depending on demand, she may also offer gluten-free crepes. She plans to serve ice cream (in a cup or as a crepe add-on), and an espresso machine is on order.
Oi will also feature a monthly crepe highlighting seasonal flavors. Stay tuned in December for tiramisu, and she also tossed out some options for next fall, like pumpkin spice or apple. Her enthusiasm—along with her laugh—is infectious, and we’re looking forward to seeing what picture-perfect flavor combinations she dreams up next.
Ichigo Tokyo Crepes
5 W. 34th St., Minneapolis