This isn’t the first time Margarita Uricoechea of Georgetown’s Snap has replaced her outdoor metallic sign—and each time she’s out a thousand dollars. Why? Her original business focus—crepes and bubble tea—has expanded to include Indian chaat (Hindi for “snack food”) and just a couple of weeks ago, Japanese okonomiyaki, a crepe-like dish topped with tuna flakes and seaweed. Because her clientele includes diplomats and traveling nonprofit workers and her staff hails from Russia, Pakistan, Japan, and Israel, Uricoechea hears suggestions for ethnic eats all the time. Her favorite ideas? The ones taken from sidewalk vendors around the world.When a Japanese client proposed that she make okonomiyaki (which translates to “as you like”), Uricoechea wasted no time consulting Google. Conveniently, all it took for her crepe batter—made with Heineken beer, as inspired by French chef Paul Bocuse—to become okonomiyaki-ready was a little extra flour. The sizzling rounds (she can fit four on one griddle) get a few sprinkles of shrimp flakes and seaweed, then one of her meat options: squid, beef, shrimp, bacon or pork. “But it must be shabu-shabu style,” Uricoechea says, referring to the thinly sliced proteins used in the Japanese take on fondue. Once fully cooked, Snap’s okonomiyaki is sliced up with a pizza cutter, then drenched with Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise and a homemade “special sauce” she prepares with sake, soy sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce.
This isn’t the only Japanese street food Uricoechea has up her sleeve. After a recent trip to New York—where she regularly picks up pointers from culinary arbiters—Uricoechea is looking into takoyaki, grilled octopus the size of a golf ball, which she plans to serve soon. Though she ordered a special cast-iron pan for the project, Uricoechea was intimidated by a YouTube video demonstrating the preparation. “They’re so fast flipping them with their chopsticks,” she says. “I don’t think me or my staff could keep up!” She’s also fooling around with Asian croquettes, featuring Japanese-imported panko bread crumbs for the coating.
What began as a creperie is now a haven of global street foods, where friends can sit together and enjoy otherwise impossible-to-find international snacks in Washington. Since the okonomiyaki developments, Snap has already branched out again, this time to premiere British-style fish and chips served with a palette of homemade curries. Sounds like Uricoechea may need to pay a few more visits to the sign maker.
Snap, 1062 Thomas Jefferson St., NW; 202-965-7627; Snapcrepes.com