When Mia Oi came to the Twin Cities as an international student a decade ago, she found herself craving a crepe.
But when she went looking, she could only find French-style breakfast crepes, not the common late-night snack she grew up eating in Tokyo.
On Nov. 1, she’s opening her first brick-and-mortar location for Ichigo Tokyo Crepes at 34th & Nicollet.
The Japanese-style crepe is spreading from the Land of the Rising Sun. It’s now served all over big cities in the United States, Europe and Latin America, Oi said. Japanese crepes come in sweet and savory varieties and are wrapped like ice cream cones and eaten by hand.
“It’s a street food,” Oi said. “Especially when you go to Tokyo, it’s everywhere.”
Oi had worked in a Tokyo crepe shop in high school and always loved to cook. When she came to the U.S. as a student, she would work part-time teaching Japanese cooking classes.
In 2018, she started Ichigo Tokyo Crepes as a pop-up at the Corner Coffee in Camden and began getting customers from all over the metro and across the state.
“I realized it could be good for here,” she said.
Early this year, Oi began serving her crepes on the weekends inside Five Watt Coffee’s stand at Keg and Case Market in St. Paul. One day, two workers from Ramen Kamaza stopped by, tried her crepes and liked them. They put Oi in touch with their boss, who encouraged her to rent the space previously occupied by Fish Bowl Poke, which recently migrated to Graze Food Hall in the North Loop.
Oi is hopeful Minneapolis audiences will adjust to eating crepes as a dinner or late-night snack, which is common in Japan. She plans to be open from 5–10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 10 a.m.–10 p.m. on weekends to accommodate the brunch crowd. She’ll also be serving coffee, bubble tea and hot Japanese tea. Gluten-free crepes will be available in 2020, Oi said.
“I’m sure Tokyo-style crepes will be popular here soon,” she said.
Ichigo Tokyo Crepes
5 W. 34th St.