Food

Where Did Souffle Pancakes Come From And Why Are They Everywhere?

It's the new takeover trend in food.
IMAGE SASHA LIM UY/PANCAKE HOUSE
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There are many places you can go with flour, butter, and eggs. It can take you to cookies, cakes, pancakes, and, in light of more timely treats, the latest food fad to hit the world: soufflé pancakes.

Soufflé pancakes are exactly how they sound: a cross between the edgy sophistication of the airy French traditional dish and the down-home charm of an American flapjack. As in Cronuts and brookies, this mongrel of a breakfast/dessert/coffee accompaniment started in artisan kitchens, later trickling down to family-favorite chains.

Food & Wine actually wrote about the soufflé pancake's history, speculating that its ancestors could be traced back to as early as 1974 in Hawaii, the year and place Jan and Jerry Fukunaga founded pancake-themed diner Eggs 'n Things. They debuted another restaurant, Rainbow Cafe, in Harajuku in 2010, thus turning the fashion-forward district into a soufflé pancake capital. As far as trends go, soufflé pancakes took its sweet time, taking nearly a decade to reach global relevance. It was only in mid-2019 when everyone, including the Philippines, started to clamor for these creamy melt-in-your-mouth delicacies.

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Its rather sluggish ascend is perfectly understandable when everyone's too high from guzzling bubble teas, but so is its takeover: Everybody loves pancakes and more people should love soufflés. Considering that shows like MasterChef warned us of the complexities of a soufflé, the pancake versions are relatively easier to make. They're cooked on the griddle, but extra doses of meringue and egg white give them that airy soufflé-like lift. Same ingredients, no extra equipment needed. Finally, the demand is here and restaurants are only too happy to oblige. These are only some of the places to get these sought-after sweets.

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1| Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory Café

Photo by SASHA LIM UY.
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Everyone knows Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory for its cookies, lighter-than-air cheesecakes, and soft-serve ice cream subsidiary Cow Cow Ice. The Japanese franchise, which ordinarily installs grab-and-go stalls for its goods, opened a couple of sit-down cafes in Manila in the past few months, the first among Tokyo Milk Cheese outlets in the world. It's an extremely impressive feat, considering the Japanese's exacting standards. But that's what Filipinos wanted: a full menu and chairs. Headlining the cafes are the luxurious not-too-sweet soufflé pancakes, a worthy new addition to its already star-studded selection.

Ayala Malls, Manila Bay, Parañaque; Estancia, Pasig 

2| Gram's Cafe & Pancakes

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What's better than a stack of pancakes? A stack of soufflé pancakes, obviously. Gram's is another Japanese restaurant that invaded the Philippines in early February. This six-year-old Osaka-based chain is famous for creating breathtaking towers of soufflé pancakes, a picture-perfect display that is graceful and elegant as it is audacious. It may look hefty, but the kitchen cooks these babies so light and airy that no one will ever have trouble finishing an order.

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SM Megamall, Mandaluyong

3| am.pm

Photo by AM.PM.

Looks like the battle between favorite soufflé pancake is intense over at Parañaque. am.pm first opened in Hong Kong in 2017. Not only does it feature the quivering Japanese hybrid, it also does one better by treating the top like a crème brûlée. When it opened in Manila in October 2019, am.pm wove local flavor into its menu by introducing an ube soufflé pancake.

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Ayala Malls, Manila Bay, Parañaque; Estancia, Pasig 

4| Le Petit Soufflé

Photo by Le Petit Soufflé.

The arrival of many international brands seems to have overshadowed the fact that proudly local Le Petit Soufflé has been cooking soufflé pancakes alongside its regular soufflés in its kitchens since the first branch at Century City Mall in 2015. Always a lens for what's happening in the Asian food scene, Le Petit Soufflé has gone beyond the usual pancake flavors, and well past chocolate and strawberry. One Christmas, it had a Mont Blanc Soufflé Pancake with chestnut mousseline, almond dacquoise, and candy canes. As for the now-ubiquitous matcha, it comes with azuki beans, chocolate shards, and jelly cubes.

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Century City Mall, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati

5| Motto Motto

Photo by Raintree Group of Restaurants.

Motto Motto is a be-all Japanese restaurant run by the Raintree Group. The soufflé pancakes joined the menu early in 2019, a few months after Motto Motto opened and established itself as a modern deviation from the usual Japanese haunt. Its version features a good old-fashioned pancake, risen like a soufflé, then served with matcha butter, azuki beans, and syrup.

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Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

6| Puffy's Soufflé Pancake Cafe 

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A different kind of milk tea fix ???? #everydayimpuffin

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Coming from Taiwan, Puffy's jiggly soufflé pancakes highlight fun flavors like Oreo, mango, crème brûlée, and milk tea just because it never hurts to marry together two huge food crazes. 

The Block, SM City North EDSA, Quezon City

7| Pancake House

Photo by PANCAKE HOUSE.
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It almost seems too obvious that the country's pancake OG would jump on this bouncy bandwagon. Pancake House launched its version of the soufflé pancakes on Valentine's Day, offering an accessible answer to shaky pancake cravings.

pancakehouse.com.ph; selected branches only

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About The Author
Sasha Lim Uy
Managing Editor, EsquireMag.ph
Sasha eats to live and lives to eat. For five years, she handled SPOT.ph's food section and edited the last two installments of its Top 10 Food books. She also recently participated at the Madrid Fusion Manila as curator.
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