DIY Pancakes and More at Slappy Cakes, Shinjuku
Not quite had your fill of the pancake revolution that is currently sweeping Tokyo? Then Shinjuku-based do-it-yourself Slappy Cakes—known for “pancakes, drinks, and fun”— should be your next brunch destination.
Hailing all the way from Portland, Oregon, the breakfast chain opened its first Tokyo branch in Shinjuku’s Lumine Est department store last year. Since its stateside opening in 2009, it has become known as one of the most popular and successful breakfast restaurants in Portland with its superior quality and service in a fun environment.
What is so special about yet another pancake eatery, I hear you cry. The unique selling point of Slappy Cakes is that griddles (or teppan) are built into some of the tables, meaning that customers can make their own pancakes at their table with their fellow diners. The reasoning behind this is to bring people together through food and to make breakfast more exciting.
My mid-week, mid-morning visit to the restaurant meant the queues were short, with a waiting time of only about five minutes. However, as it moved into prime lunch hour, I noticed the size of the queue had drastically increased, but the 90-minute time limit on the griddle tables may help reduce the waiting time. Unfortunately, all the griddle tables were already taken on my visit so my dining companion and I had to settle for a plain old table with no fun cooking apparatus. Boohoo.
With booths, counter seating, bunting, and a faux wood cladding, the interior struck me as a mix between an all-American diner and a homey cabin in the woods. This may sound strange, but it works aesthetically. Cute decorations and artwork adorn the walls, and upbeat music played in the background to complete the cheerful atmosphere.
Spoilt for choice, we couldn’t decide whether to order from the pancake menu or the other, more varied, menu that includes salads, steak, lasagne, and various à la carte options. So, we ordered from both.
To whet our appetites, we chose the recommended Slappy Benedict—sautéed spinach and proscuitto on pureed roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes with hollandaise sauce—and a side of granola. Although delicious and a good healthy option, the granola dish comprised mainly yogurt with a smattering of fruit and a side of honey to pour. It was definitely good as a side dish, but would not be enough to fill you up.
The eggs Benedict was a bit of a letdown. While the individual ingredients in this dish didn’t really work well together, its good points outdid the bad: a good-sized portion, chunky potato wedges, tasty and fresh spinach, and a creamy and rich hollandaise sauce with a good consistency.
Having come to a pancake restaurant, it would have been a crime to not order pancakes. Customers can find a wide variety of sweet or savory options here, and can even make a choice of buttermilk or wholegrain batter. Recommend by the waitress, I ordered the pancake with blueberries and homemade lemon curd with a buttermilk batter, while my dining companion ordered the roasted mushrooms, scallions and cheddar cheese pancake with wholegrain batter. Also a good-sized portion, my pancake was light and fluffy with a creamy and tangy lemon curd and juicy blueberries. It was served with a 30-percent maple syrup, but I would recommend ordering the real 100-percent maple syrup for an extra ¥200, and a better taste. My friend’s pancake had a grainy and flavorsome base, and was overflowing with the filling—although only a sparse amount of cheese could be found hiding in the middle.
If you were to cook your own pancakes, you can choose your own batter (buttermilk, wholegrain or chocolate), fixings and toppings from a selection that includes everything from chocolate chips and dried cherries to peanut butter and applesauce. Or you could, of course, choose something from the other menus.
I spied a group of young girls making some interesting creations with their ingredients, and I think this would be a fun hands-on cooking experience for diners of all ages (although it might get a bit messy for those with kids!).
I will definitely be returning to Slappy Cakes to try making my way through its long list of mouth-watering pancakes, and to try my hand at cooking my own pancake concoctions!
Address: 7F Lumine Est, 3-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Open: Daily, 11 a.m.–11 p.m.