Get your fill of fluffy wobbly Japanese souffle pancakes at these new eateries

Fluffy Japanese-style pancake eateries such as Osaka's belle-ville and Tokyo's Riz Labo Kitchen are springing up in Singapore

They look thick, but are actually so light and fluffy they "jiggle" when you shake the plate they are on.

Such souffle pancakes are big not only in Japan, but also here increasingly, with many fans posting Instagram videos showing the pancakes all stacked up and wobbly.

Student Annabelle Tan, 19, says: "My friends and I love Japanese pancakes. Not only are they tasty, but they also look so good on social media."

Osaka's belle-ville Pancake Cafe opened recently at Bugis Junction, and another Japanese pancake place - Riz Labo Kitchen - opens in Wisma Atria later this month.

They add to other eateries serving Japanese-style pancakes, such as popular chain Hoshino Coffee Singapore, Eggs 'N Things at Plaza Singapura and Kyushu Pancake Cafe in Novena.

Pancakes are usually made from flour, eggs, milk and butter and topped with maple syrup, whipped cream and butter. The Japanese-style souffle pancakes differ in having a light and fluffy texture from egg whites that are whipped into a meringue.

Expect a wait of at least 20 minutes at belle-ville and Hoshino Coffee Singapore on weekdays as their pancakes are made to order.

Belle-ville, known for its fluffy stacks of "millefeuille" pancakes, was brought in by the Sunpark group of restaurants behind the popular Chateraise patisserie and Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen here.

Riz Labo Kitchen will open at Wisma Atria's Japan Food Town and offer gluten-free pancakes made with organic rice flour and rice oil.

The brand opened in Omotesando, Tokyo, in December 2016 and this is its first venture out of Japan.

On entering the Singapore market, Riz Labo Kitchen's owner Kazu Tsurumura says: "People in Singapore are interested in healthy food and new-style Japanese food."

At Novena Regency, the two-year-old Kyushu Pancake Cafe also offers a healthier option that is more chewy and denser in texture.

Its seven-grain pancakes comprise a mix of millet, wheat, pressed barley, sprouted brown rice, purple rice, white rice and red glutinous rice - all sourced from organic farms in Kyushu. The cafe also offers savoury pancake options.

Out of nostalgia, Mr Koji Muraoka, who ate pancakes as a child, started the Kyushu Pancake Cafe brand in Tokyo in 2012, expanding later to Taiwan and Singapore.

Ms Daisy Lee, 47, director of Kyushu Pancake Cafe in Singapore, says that the Japanese in both Japan and Singapore have become more concerned about food safety after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

"It has taken us two years to build our brand here and we do not compromise on the quality of ingredients used," she adds.

The brand continues to work closely with Japanese producers to bring in seasonal products. Ms Lee says it is looking to expand in Singapore and South-east Asia.

At cafes, each order of Japanese-style pancakes usually costs at least $10.

For a more affordable option, head to sweeT.Rex, a hawker stall at Mei Ling Market & Food Centre, which offers two souffle pancakes for $3 and is awaiting halal certification.

Housewife Cassandra Lim, 43, prefers Japanese-style souffle pancakes as they are lighter. She says: "I can eat more of the Japanese pancakes as they do not feel overly rich. While I do like to make pancakes for my children, I haven't been able to perfect the thick souffle pancakes at home."

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Where to get your fix

BELLE-VILLE PANCAKE CAFE


PHOTO: BELLE-VILLE PANCAKE CAFE

Named after the French neighbourhood in Paris, the 30-seat pancake cafe serves made-to-order fluffy "millefeuille" pancakes - a reference to the layered French pastry.

Upon order, egg whites are hand-whipped and added to the batter made with egg yolks, Hokkaido milk and Japanese flour. Prices start at $7.90 for four pieces of plain pancakes topped with buttercream.

Or pick from pancake stacks layered with fruit and fresh cream. Options include grilled apple with house-made caramel pancakes (from $12.20 for four pieces); and strawberry and mixed berry pancakes (from $11.90 for two pieces). Add $1 each for toppings such as vanilla ice cream and azuki red beans, or add $3.50 for a drink set. The cafe also offers a small selection of sandwiches, coffee, tea and juice.

Where: 01-01B Bugis Junction Towers, 230 Victoria Street (near Bugis MRT station exit C)

Open: 8am to 8.30pm daily

Info: Call 6255-5456 or go to www.facebook.com/PancakeCafe.belleville

RIZ LABO KITCHEN


PHOTO: RIZ LABO KITCHEN

The brand from Omotesando in Tokyo specialises in gluten-free pancakes made with organic rice flour, brown sugar, organic soya milk, and rice oil instead of butter. Prices start at $15 for the original pancake. It also offers a matcha pancake (above, $18) and a premium chocolate ice cream pancake ($18). Exclusive to Singapore is a hojicha (roasted green tea) pancake ($18) and a limited-edition pancake with strawberries.

Where: Japan Food Town, Level 4 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road

Open: From July 21

Info: www.facebook.com/Rizlabo

KYUSHU PANCAKE CAFE


PHOTO: KYUSHU PANCAKE CAFE

The two-year-old cafe, which specialises in seven-grain pancakes, often introduces new items in line with the seasonal menu of its outlet in Japan. It currently offers the limited-edition Annou Imo Pancakes ($15), made with honey sweet potatoes from Miyazaki Prefecture and topped with premium milk ice cream.

Also on offer are savoury dishes featuring pancakes. They include Eggs Benedict (above, $18) with tomato, asparagus and bacon, and Kyushu Sunny Day ($19) with a chilli meat sauce and a sunny-side-up egg.

Signature desserts include the Berry-licious Pancake ($16.90) and Matcha MontBlanc ($18).

Where: 01-08 Novena Regency, 275 Thomson Road

Open: 11am to 9pm (Tuesdays to Sundays), closed on Mondays

Info: Call 6352-6265 or go to www.facebook.com/kyushupancake.sg

EGGS 'N THINGS


PHOTO: EGGS ’N THINGS

Its name may highlight eggs, but the casual restaurant from Waikiki, Hawaii, is best known for fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with housemade whipped cream and macadamia nuts. Pick from fruit such as strawberry, banana, pineapple and blueberry to go with the pancakes (above, $19.90). The extensive menu also offers Eggs Benedict, waffles with a choice of fruit, and omelette options.

Where: 03-79 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road

Open: 10am to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6835-9988 or go to www.facebook.com/eggsnthingssg

SWEET.REX

Probably the most affordable souffle pancake option so far, sweeT.Rex is a hawker stall that serves no-frills, Japanese-style pancakes at $3 for two pieces.


PHOTO: SWEET.REX

The pancakes are topped with just chocolate, strawberry (above) or caramel sauce. The stall also sells flavoured pudding ($2) and cheesecakes ($3.80).

It opens only on weekends. But once the stall gets halal certification, it will likely open more frequently from next month.

Where: 02-47 Mei Ling Market & Food Centre, 159 Mei Chin Road

Open: 11am to 8pm (weekends only)

Info: www.facebook.com/sweeeTRex

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'Sweet stacks'. Print Edition | Subscribe