Japan is not only famous for its traditional food like ramen and sushi; with a thriving pop culture, they also have a dizzying array of desserts for those with sweet tooth. Take pancakes alone and the Japs have it done in many ways in very good ways.
When N and I were in Osaka, we decided to explore 3 of the pancake places.
Tables Café – Enjoying Pancakes with a Comfortable Ambience
The first on was Tables Café, which seemed difficult to locate on Google Maps, but was easy to find once you know it was located inside Cross Hotel Osaka.
Tables Café was known more for their ambience and settings, rather than the pancakes. The whole restaurant was in modern décor, bathed in soft warm lighting. There were various seats you can choose if you are early, but even at a proper dining table, the soft cushion chairs were still comfortable enough, especially if you are there early in the morning for a breakfast/brunch!
N and I ordered Crepes with Bacon, Ham and Cheese and Pancakes with Caramelised Banana.
Despite its looks, I wouldn’t call the crepes light; it was strong in taste, thanks to the cheese and texture. For breakfast, one may find it a tad too heavy.
The pancakes on the other hand was served with a mountainous scoop of cream and a half a slice of banana. All three items were rich in flavours and to be honest, I couldn’t take them together. On their own, however, they were good in their own rights. The caramelised sugar on the banana gave it an added crunch and sweetness, while the pancakes were soft and buttery.
This café also served other savoury food, but as we were continuing our pancake tour after this, we stuck to the crepes and pancakes. Despite that, our orders came with the “buffet” from the salad bar, which offered a wide range of healthy choices. After all, Tables Café pride itself with offering organic food that was in harmony with nature!
The Hanare – Pancakes so Fluffy, I Just Wanna Jiggle-Jiggle
The pleasant surprise was with The Hanare, which was known for its fluffy pancakes. It was located in an obscure neighbourhood that required about 15 minutes of walking from Daimaru in Dotonburi.
Perched on the 2nd storey of a building overlooking a small courtyard, the café was brightly lit from the 2-storey floor-to-ceiling windows as well as from its lightwood and pastel coloured interior décor.
Space was an issue, so be sure to come early or sit outside the door in the narrow stairwell to wait for a vacancy!
As with all things good, the pancakes required a 20-minute wait before you can ravage its fluffy goodness. However, when it did arrive, it was all worth the wait!
Not only were the pancakes so ever photogenic, they were also very wobbly to the touch! The original pancakes we ordered came in a set of three, with nothing else except powdered icing and a pot of maple syrup – the chef was damn confident of his pancakes!
It was heavenly, indeed!
The pancake went into my mouth as a solid, but turned fluid the moment it touched my tongue! What kind of sorcery was it?! It was also bursting with sweet fragrance even without the maple syrup! And despite the sensory overload, the pancakes still felt light!
Given the quality of the pancakes, it was definitely worth the hike to The Hanare to savour them cakes. Pair them with a cup of black coffee, perch yourself by the window seats and watch the trees dance to the winds in the courtyard as you slowly enjoy the pancakes while bathing in the warmth of the sunlight…
What we are talking about is not a foodie experience, it was a life experience!
Marufuku Café – Old School Breakfast in Heart of Namba
On a separate day, N and I popped by Marufuku Café for breakfast, as it was in the Dotonburi area and thus quite near to our hotel.
The full name of the café is: Marufuku Coffee Sennichimae Honten 丸福珈琲店 千日前本, which referred to Marufuku Café in Dotonburi and it was the main shop.
The café was decked out in dark hardwood, warm lighting with plenty of booth seating. There were a lot of display cases, either beside the booths or any nooks and cranny along the walkways, where the owner would display old school tea set or statues.
It felt like the place had not seen a makeover since its early days, as the tables were small and low, almost touching my thighs as I sat in the booth!
We ordered a few breakfast-ish stuff to go along with the pancakes (which we were there for) and coffee.
The pancakes were not the fluffy kinds that we had in The Hanare, but instead bordered on having a bread-ish texture. We reckoned it was how pancakes tasted in the early days, before hipsters like us came along and demanded for fluffier pancakes!
The pastries were also rather old school. That set came with a cookie, a (warm, dried) pound cake and a… I don’t know… puff? The exterior was like some Hong Kong pastry with flaky skin, while the filling was made of red bean paste (come to think of it, it does seem like a Hong Kong pastry…).
The pastries seemed to be a throwback of the earlier days. These days, pastries were sugarcoated (literally) with colourful icing or decorations. Not for the pastries at Marufuku! In fact, they looked bare on the plate…
If you ask me, the food was not something you purposely go for. Instead, it was the whole décor and ambience.
The cutlery was said to be dated from the older days, which was obvious from the design and the heavy feel of the plates and cups. The design was haphazard, but went along the theme of Western, dark wood. If you put yourself into the perspective of the designer of the 70s/80s, then the design choices wouldn’t be so awkward.
In fact, I thought Marufuku Café could be one of the first generation of hipster cafes, catering to those who were tired of their generic, “local” coffee shops and were attracted to themes of the Western old world.
Or, if you are looking for traveling inspiration, be sure to check out my post(s) on how to plan for a Christmas Market focused Bavarian trip, or to water the lavender in your sweat during summer in Hokkaido.
Till then, stay wanderlust!
All photos and videos were taken using Olympus TG870 and Google Pixel XL, and edited with Snapseed.
Japan, 〒542-0085 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Chūō-ku
2 Chome−5−15 クロスホテル大阪
The Hanare @ Sankyubashi Gardenscape 2F
3 Chome-2-15 Minamikyūhōjimachi, Chūō-ku
Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 541-0058, Japan
MarufukuCoffee Sennichimae Honten
1 Chome-9-1 Sennichimae
Ōsaka-fu 542-0074, Japan