Tokyo Brunching

IMG_0337This is the only text message humans should receive from another human on Sunday mornings. Even better when it’s from a person you like. It’s the by-product of spending 10+ years between two of the most amazing brunchifying cities: Manhattan and L.A. Brunch is now weaved within the fabric of my being.

In New York, my typical Sunday started with rolling out of bed, pulling my hair up into a messy bun, throwing on ridiculously over-sized sunglasses and staggering into any random place in my neighborhood. (I lived in the West Village, one of the best eating areas.) Then we would start mimosa-ing from 10:30-11am. Technically we’d order mimosas with no orange juice which is just champagne, Cava or Prosecco but ordering mimosas gave us psychological reassurances we weren’t high functioning alcoholics. And like NYers do, have a never-ending brunch (or, all day booze-fest), be home in bed by 11pm, ready to take on the week. The alcohol would knock us out early.

Brunch foods are glorious. Any sort of egg dish is my favorite, especially with luxuriously creamy runny yolks. From Eggs Benedict, to an over easy fried egg and steak, and even just a simple poached egg, I thank the brunch gods everyday for pioneering such an amazing tradition.

When I arrived to Tokyo in June of 2013, I was concerned: does brunch exist here…?

 

Well. Turns out Tokyo is a brunch town. But in typical Tokyo fashion, it’s not what I expected. Here, it’s all about pancakes. What a super random thing for people to obsess over. There is an ongoing pancake craze in Japan. It started long before I got here and continues strongly a year and half later.

Take bills in super fashionable Omotesando. On weekends, there is a 1.5-2 hour wait that extends down the staircase and wraps around the big glass building for… pancakes.

The culprit:

Ricotta pancakes source is here (I just pulled it off Google Images and don’t know the original site…)

Because we are Japanese, of course there are pancake craftsmen who have perfected their  versions of pancakes.

There are super fluffy ones with loads of light, fluffy cream and fruit on top.

 

 

Thin ones that are more crêpe like. (This one resembles a Dutch Baby but, who am I to argue with the chef?)

 

And really cute ones with ice cream and flan and smiley faces and fruit. Like happiness on a plate.

Gotta love Japan.

I’m more of an Eggs Benedict person.

At my secret brunch place with almost always no line. Oh god, oh god, that looks so good.

If you are ever in Tokyo and get tired of Japanese food, here is a round-up of the most popular pancake places.

1. Cafe Kaila originally from Hawaii, they opened their Japanese branch in 2012.
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
5-10-1 Jingumae, B1F Gyre,
Hours: Mon – Fri, 9am – 8pm, Sun and holidays 8am – 8pm
Website (Japanese only): http://www.cafe-kaila.com/

2. Clinton Street Baking Company, the same one in NYC
Minato, Tokyo
5-17-1 Minami Aoyama
Hours: Everyday from 8am – 10pm
Website (the .jp one is only in Japanese) http://clintonstreetbaking.co.jp/

3. Eggs ‘n Things originally from Hawaii, the Tokyo one was so popular they now have 9 locations across Japan. Wow. Can’t hate on the hustle.
This is the address for the Harajuku location (the others aren’t rated as high)
Eggs ‘n Things
Shibuya, Tokyo
4-30-2 Jingumae
Hours: Mon – Friday 9am – 10:30 pm, Saturday, Sunday and holidays 8am – 10:30pm
Website (Japanese only): http://www.eggsnthingsjapan.com/
*Bonus. I found a YouTube video someone took of the line here.

4. bills Omotesando location. Bill Granger is an Australian celebrity chef (has books, tv shows, etc.) There are two easily accessible locations in Tokyo, this location is ranked higher.
bills Omotesando
Shibuya, Tokyo
4-30-3 Jingumae, Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku
Website: https://bills-jp.net/
(They also take reservations.)

5. Rainbow Pancake (I believe they are the only Japanese owned of the lot; I can tell by their hours)
Shibuya, Tokyo
4-28-4 Jingumae
Hours: Everyday from 10am – 6pm; closed on Tuesdays
Website (Japanese only) http://www.rainbowpancake.net/

That list is from a national survey conducted by a research company on behalf of a Japanese Pancake Association in 2014 (I swear, Japan has a club / association for every popular item). They surveyed 10,800 people for over 1,400 pancake places.

Sadly, Tokyo brunching doesn’t include bottomless mimosas like in NYC. And if you’re more of an eggs benedict type, TimeOut Tokyo’s top 10 list is here.

I refuse to stand in line for hours on end for eggs, so if you’re ever in Tokyo, I’d be happy to show you my secret places with delicious food, no lines. Of course the meal’s on you 😉

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