Finally, after almost two hours wait the perfectly fluffy light brownish stack of pancakes sits in front of me on the table. It is beautifully decorated covered with yellow passionfruit sauce and sparkled with a dash of cream and fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and peeled orange.
I cut a piece of it and put it in my mouth. It melts on my tongue and tastes delicious with its perfect combination of sweet and slightly sour flavor from the passionfruit sauce and fresh berries. Yummy! 🙂
While in Tokyo we did something I never thought we would ever do; we queued for over an hour just for a plate of pancakes!! Yep, PANCAKES! 🙂
I know it sounds stupid, but the Tokyoites are crazy for pancakes and there are long queues outside the most popular pancake places every day. We were looking for a place to eat breakfast in Tokyo and ended up at one of the many pancake places in Tokyo.
This Tokyo pancake craziness started about four years ago when the first of Tokyo incarnation of the popular Hawaiian breakfast spot opened. Since then a pancake boom has swept the Japan capital in a tide of batter and maple syrup.
You will find these pancakes cafes/restaurants all over Tokyo, especially in the Shibuya area, and a walk down the Avenue between Harajuku and Omotesando stations is like stepping from queue to queue of drooling shoppers eager to get a taste of the latest culinary pancake experience.
If pancakes are not your thing, you can always join the long lines outside the gourmet popcorn shops Garrett and KuKuRuZa, or wait forever in the queue outside Max Brenner for a chance to taste their famous chocolate fondue. Mmmmm, plenty of good stuff to choose from! 🙂
Why Tokyo Pancake Mania?
But how did Tokyoites manage to become so crazy about a dish that is so, well, unremarkable like pancakes?! How does a stack of pancakes get people to queue for hours outside in the burning hot sun during summer and freezing cold wind and rain during winter?! It sure is a mystery!
Apparently, pancakes were not the first imported dish to drive Tokyoites wild. Back in the 80s, the big thing was crepes, and it was all about the cloying, cream-clogged creations from the shop Marion Crepes in Harajuku.
The people waiting for hours outside the most popular and fancy pancake restaurants might be there to satisfy their pancake craving, however according to Tomomi Nakagawa (a writer with a background in food and drink PR, interviewed in the TimeOut magazine) it has just as much to do with the ritual and the feeling that they are up to date with the latest trends.
The young fashionable Tokyoites are genuinely obsessed by the latest trends, both when it comes to clothes, accessories, and gadgets, but also food. They want to participate in the hottest and latest trends, and be where it “happens”.
But there is also more to it than simply the “trend” aspect. To go out for breakfast has never really been a part of the Japanese culture. Even the bakeries in Japan usually opens after 10 a.m., unlike bakeries in Europe which open around 6 a.m. so that people can grab some pastries and coffee on their way to work.
This all changed only a few years back when there was a boom in morning activities in Tokyo, know in Japanese as “Asakatsu”. It became fashionable to squeeze in a session of yoga, pilates or a language class before heading off to work. Around this time the media also started to focus on breakfast spots in Tokyo.
Luckily for the first pancake restaurant in Tokyo, Eggs`n Things, this happened around their opening. As there were not that many breakfast spots in Tokyo to choose from back then, they got a lot of publicity and became extremely popular quite fast.
Overall there is a trend in Tokyo for gourmet western food like popcorn and burgers, all with very high quality. We tried out several of the fashionable burger places and found our favorite burger at The Great Burger.
It seems like the young and trendy consumers of Tokyo are becoming food critics, and that the bar is being raised.
According to Tomomi Nakagawa (a writer with a background in food and drink PR) the next trend in Tokyo will be French toast! Hmmm, I guess we will have to wait and see… 🙂
Where To Eat Pancakes In Tokyo?
Ah, there are LOTS of pancake places in Tokyo! We visited two of them; Bills and Moke`s which both were awesome with delicious pancakes.
The queue at Bills was very long when we were there and we waited over an hour, while it was shorter at Moke`s where we waited about 20 minutes for a table. In my opinion, Moke`s has better pancakes than Bills. They are bigger, more fluffy and softer and the passion fruit sauce and fresh berries are heavens! We actually ate there twice. 🙂
I simply LOVE ♥ pancakes, but Moke`s pancakes are actually so big that we ended up over-eating the first time we were there and had to head back to our hotel to sleep it off, hehe. The second time we shared one pancake….. 🙂
Here are some of the best and most popular pancake places in Tokyo:
- Eggs`n Things – 4-20-2 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Bills – Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku 7F, 4-30-2 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Moke`s – KRK Bldg. 1-17-8 Kamimeguro Meguro-ku, close to Nakameguro Station
- Cafe Kaila – Gyre B1F, 5-10-1 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Rainbow Pancake Ares Garden – Ares Garden Omotesando 2F, 4-28-4 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Brooklyn Pancake House – 6-14-12 Jingumae, Shibuya
- Clinton St Baking Company – YHT Minami-Aoyama Bldg, 5-17-1 Minami-Aoyama, Minato (check out their recipes book below!)
- The Original Pancake House – Marui Kichijoji 1F, 1-7-1 Kichijoji-Minamicho, Musashino
- VoiVoi – 1-35-15 Sangenjaya, Setagaya
- Sarabeth`s – T-Site Station 2F, 1-35-17 Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya
- Kyushu Pancake Cafe – Southern Daikanyama 1C, 20-9 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya
Do you have a craving for pancakes after reading this? I sure do! 🙂 Why not make it yourself?! Check out these great pancake recipe books, and make your own delicious pancakes:
Where To Stay In Tokyo
Tokyo has an incredible variety of accommodation available. Here you find some of the world’s most luxurious hotels as well as traditional Japanese Inns where you sleep on a futon mat. Famous tiny pod hotels, love hotels for couples, business hotels for the businessmen that stayed out drinking too late to go home, and everything in between.
The Park Hyatt
Made famous by the movie ‘Lost in Translation’, The Park Hyatt is absolutely one of Tokyo’s most luxurious hotels. The hotels 178 rooms are among Tokyo’s most spacious and elegant and provides all modern comforts. The hotel’s friendly and professional service is legendary, and the hotel’s restaurants world-class. Located on the top floor with stunning views over Tokyo is the world famous New York Bar Grill, where Bill Murray’s character enjoyed his many whiskeys.
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Tokyu Stay Shinjuku
This hotel has a great location within just a few minutes walk from Shinjuku-sanchome station in Tokyo’s shopping and entertainment center. The hotel is bright and modern, with small but comfortable rooms that include a tv, refrigerator, microwave, safe and a washing machine(!). Wifi is free and fast. They serve a tasty breakfast in the bar next door. In an otherwise very expensive area of the city, this hotel offers great value for money.
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Hotel MyStays Asakusabashi
We stayed at Hotel MyStays in Asakusabashi and really liked this hotel! It is brand new, and the rooms are actually decent sized compared to the average hotel in Japan (choose a twin room if you need the biggest room). The neighborhood is great, with lots of restaurants and cafes, and a short walk to the underground station Asakusabashi. It was the cheapest and best hotel we could find in Tokyo.
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MyCube by MyStays
If you’re traveling solo on a budget or would simply like to try one of the famous and unique cube/pod hotels of Tokyo then this is a great choice. It is a brand new hotel and quite spacious for a pod hotel. Every pod has lockable baggage storage and free Wi-Fi. The underground station is located right next door and there are plenty of places to eat in the neighborhood.
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Budget Alternatives: Khaosan Asakusa Hostel
Tokyo has a lot of accommodation options to choose from in different areas of the city. Click here to read our complete guide to our favorite areas and hotels in Tokyo.
We used Lonely Planet`s Japan Travel Guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below which will take you to Amazon.com (affiliate links):
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Do you like pancakes? Would you eat it if you went to Tokyo, or would you just eat Japanese food? Please share your thoughts in the comment area below. If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, please share it on social media! Thanks! 🙂
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