Sunday, October 15, 2017

Best Fluffy Pancakes in Japan: Gram, Micasadeco & Cafe, Elk Cafe, A Happy Pancake


Sure ramen, sushi and tempura are great in Japan and are must haves when you visit. But you know what else the Land of The Rising Sun does well? Super fluffy pancakes!! Yes, they have taken this classic Western breakfast staple to the next level. It also became a team Ramen Raff obsession.

The pancake boom apparently started around when Australia’s Bill’s and Hawaiian/U.S. restaurants like Eggs ‘n Things made a mark in Japan. Then there’s the soufflé pancakes by Hoshino Coffee too. Following the success of those joints, numerous pancake shops opened around the Harajuku area. Then a new breed of soufflé pancakes popped up, which were mostly made popular by Gram Cafe. All the shops had their different recipes and spins to it. But essentially, the base is this airy meringue-like batter that’s cooked in flat grills.


Here’s a round up of the best fluffy soufflé pancakes that we have tried and the shops we have visted:

Gram

Possibly the most famous and longest of lines out of all the pancake cafe chains. The concept is that there are only 3 slots available for pancake sessions everyday at every shop: 11:00am, 3pm and 6pm. Line up an hour before each session for a ticket (you are only allowed 1 ticket max per person) come back on the allocated time and voila, pancakes are served around 10-15mins later. 
Premium pancakes
Their premium pancakes (¥950 for 3 pieces) is probably the closest to a soufflé-like consistency with a texture between a soufflé and super soft marshmallow. It’s like eating clouds if you could do so haha! The flavour is somewhat reminiscent of marshmallow too and soft sweet meringue. Topped with butter and drizzled with maple syrup. Super wobbly and super soft.


Tip: If you happen to be in Kyoto, there’s a branch near Nishiki Market that has no line at all!! Go get it!
1-9-30 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo

Opening hours:
11am-9pm daily

and

601 Nishiuoyacho | 2F Mizuno Bldg., Kyoto 604-8142, Kyoto
Opening hours:
11am to 9pm daily

Click the link below for other locations:http://www.cafe-gram.com/sp/

Elk Café



Most Elk cafes are located in the Kansai areas like Osaka and Kyoto. Most of their shops have a chill and homey feel. Their soufflé pancakes are probably more in the cakey side but still quite soft and tasty. 
Whipping cream and honey pancake

Maple and whipping cream raisin nut butter pancakes


We tried two flavours: The whipping cream & honey (¥900 for 3 pieces) and the Maple & Whipping cream raisin nut butter pancakes (¥1000 for 3 pieces). The first one was more conservative and emphasises more on the pancake. We preferred the latter in terms of the combo of sweetness from the maple and raisin and also the buttery flavours from the nuts.



Shinsaibashi M Mansion 1F, 1-10-28, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka
Opening hours:10am to 11pm

Click the link below for other locations:


Shiawase no Pancake (A Happy Pancake)




Happy Raff
This joint originated in Omotesando Aoyama, Tokyo and the same branch gets easily packed from lunchtime onwards. Just the sound of the shop name alone puts a smile on your face. The shop space has a dainty vibe. The system here is that you write down your name and the number of people in your group on a sheet provided at the entrance. Then they either let you wait or tell you when to roughly come back.
The Happy Pancake


Pancake with rich cheese mousse and berry sauce

Pancake with milk tea sauce, granola and whipped cream

We tried three flavours: 1) The Happy Pancake which was topped with whipped Hokkaido butter with a side of New Zealand manuka honey (¥1,100). 2) Pancake with milk tea sauce, granola and whipped cream (¥1,350). 3) Pancake with rich cheese mousse and berry sauce (¥1,280). They were all delicious but my favourite was pancake with royal milktea sauce, granola and whipped cream. The milktea sauce was almost like light butterscotch with tea notes and went well with the buttery nutty notes of the granola.

Tip: Go to the Dogenzaka branch in Shibuya to avoid crowds.

 3/F 1-18-8 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours:
10.30am to 8.30pm

Click the link below for other locations like Osaka and Kyoto:

Micasadeco & Café




Last but not least is Micasadeco, which were hands down our ABSOLUTE favourite out of all of the pancake places. It also has the best coffee out of all of them. I first spotted this place through Erina aka @Eliseaki ‘s instagram post. The place itself was quite homey and very chill. There are 2 branches: one in Osaka and one around Harajuku/Shibuya on Cat Street.
Ricotta cheese pancakes
Their ricotta cheese pancakes (¥1,000) is the best pancakes I’ve had in my life to date. Not only was it fluffy, velvety and cloud-like in texture but it also had the sweet creamy taste of ricotta cheese. Simply topped with butter and light icing sugar with a side of maple syrup just highlights how amazing this pancake is. This is a MUST try!
Tip: If you are in Osaka, go visit them! The crowd at their Osaka branch is less hectic.

Minatomachi 82 building 1F, 1-2-8, Saiwaicho, Naniwa-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka
Opening hours:
9:00am to 5pm (Mon to Fri)
9:00am to 6pm (Sat & Sun)

and

2F, 6-16-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Tokyo 
Opening hours:
11am-7pm daily


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Slurpfest by Rising Sun Workshop: Ramen O-San Night

Last Sunday night was bittersweet. It was bitter because it was the last night of Slurpfest. But ending the series with O-san’s ramen was beautifully sweet! Chef O-san and his team were full of energy and focus during preparations. The Rising Sun Workshop crew were in full control and engaged. Watching them passionately work was inspiring. Drinks were flowing from the bar, the aroma of karaage chicken frying was mouth-watering and watching team O-san assemble bowls of ramen was fascinating.








 
Each customer had a choice between 2 ramens on the night: Aussie seafood tonkotsu ramen or modern classic ramen. Both ramen had tonkotsu broths blended with chicken and gyokai (seafood) blend stocks. These are by far the most complex broths I’ve had during Slurpfest. Chef O-san and his team make all noodles in-house.

The Aussie seafood tonkotsu ramen was quite interesting and with more complexity over the other ramen’s broth. The tonkotsu part of the light-medium dense broth was more of a base that sets a stage for the delicious umami and other flavours of the clam component. The ebi oil drizzeled on top elevated the broth with extra umami, light briny flavour and extra texture. Soy tare was used to flavour the broth. Noodles were cooked to futsu (medium) level. Toppings included were leek, capsicum, and green onions. The sweetness and contrast of the capsicum and leek was a perfect combo with the broth. The caramelised chopped chashu was extra tasty! This bowl was both intense and amazing.
  Then there’s the Modern & Classic ramen. The name was derived from the fact that bonito was used to give the classic commonly used seafood component in a gyokai tonkotsu ramen. The modern part is that snapperhead stock was blended with bonito stock and then there’s the use of apple and shungiku (chrysanthemum greens). The broth is flavoured with salt tare and was thicker compared to the other bowl. There was more depth of flavours including umami and a very pronounced smokiness. The sweetness from apple and leek along with the astringent and peppery flavour of the shungiku worked well with the broth. The pork neck chashu was extra tasty and tender. The noodles were cooked a little bit more than futsu. The softer texture of the noodles suited the broth. This was just as amazing as the other bowl.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nick Smith and Rising Sun Workshop for making me a part of this event and making this all possible. I would also like to thank Mori-san, Keita-san, Jun-san & Eugene, Haru-san, O-san and their teams for taking part in Slurpfest and for the mind blowing bowls of ramen. I’m both honoured and thankful for the things I’ve learnt from this event and the friendships I’ve made through ramen. Most of all, I would like to thank everyone that came to Slurpfest because without your support, this wouldn’t have been possible. Until next time folks! Ja mate ne?!

Check out the behind the scenes video on my Youtube channel. Click here.

Ramen Raff attended Slurpfest as a collaborator of Rising Sun Workshop.