Japanese Pancakes   ホットケーキ

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Japanese pancakes with simple accompaniments, but generously thick!

Mont Blanc pancake of J.S Pancake Cafe

A Mont Blanc (chestnut cream) pancake at the J.S Pancake Cafe

Pancake can be eaten with some vegetables, meat or fish

Pancakes can be enjoyed as a savory dish, with vegetables, meat or fish

Famous dorayaki, two pancakes with anko

The famous dorayaki: two pancakes sandwiched with ankle.

A sweet, fluffy treat!

Soft, thick and sweet, Japanese pancakes are a more generous version of the famous recipe from the United States. Served with a knob of butter and syrup or a mountain of indulgent toppings, they are now becoming increasingly popular in Japan. So, what's the secret to making this irresistible treat?

Pancake or sponge cake?

In reality, there are two words in Japan that refer to pancakes: pankeki (パンケーキ) and hottokeki (ホットケーキ). The first most likely refers to the classic pancake, if a little thicker. The hottokeki is Japanese style, and has an unexpected feature: it's usually steamed while cooked in the pan! In addition to the milk and butter used in traditional recipes yogurt is sometimes added, which makes it very smooth. It can be much thicker than the american version, reaching up to four centimeters thick! The final result can look more like a sponge cake than a pancake.

To understand what we mean, it's best to try one for yourself! Here are some places to find Japanese-style pancakes in Tokyo:

(Ebisu, Tokyo)

Wooden chairs, bistro-style decor and a European atmosphere, here you can enjoy sweet or savory pancakes: from the classic kind dusted with icing sugar to the most elaborate covered with fresh fruits, vanilla ice cream, chocolate or whipped cream! The more adventurous might try the tomato camembert cheese pancake, an interesting French-inspired dish.

(Harajuku, Odaiba, and Ginza, Tokyo)

This chain, now with many branches across Japan, is one of the most popular - sometimes you have to be patient and queue to taste some of the twelve recipes offered on the menu. A nice plus, the Harajuku store has a terrace.

(Nakano, Tokyo)

Pancakes topped with a mountain of strawberries, caramelized apples or simply maple syrup are on offer at JS Pancake Cafe. For those with a less sweet tooth, this restaurant also offers salads, and pancakes accompanied by fried eggs and bacon, or salmon and avocado.

The hottokeki is a good example of yoshoku: a western recipe adapted to Japanese tastes.

Something for the kids

There's another delicacy in which pancakes feature: the dorayaki, probably the most popular pancake recipe in Japan. You can find it both in neighborhood konbini and in the most prestigious specialty sweet shops. This little treat is made of two small pancakes sandwiched with sweet red bean paste (anko). Its name comes from its round shape, like a gong. This sweet snack is popular with children, as it's also the favourite food of Doraemon, a beloved Japanese cartoon character. While the red bean paste is the star ingredient of the traditional recipe, these days dorayaki can come with various indulgent fillings: green tea cream, custard, strawberry, to name just a few.

In recent years pancakes have become extremely popular in Japan. Eaten plain or accompanied by a myriad of toppings, Japan has turned the pancake into a complex and very delicious dessert!


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