Pancakes are really big in Tokyo in recent years. We see new specialty shops popping up one after another competing to take pancakes to new heights, from batter to toppings, good old Western-style pancakes to pillowy Japanese-style souffle pancakes, these shops strive to come up with the lightest and fluffiest creations possible.
Nevertheless, if you are a pancake lover travelling to Tokyo, you will find that many pancake shops don’t open until 11am. This is because pancakes are more commonly eaten as a sweet treat in Japan, rather than a breakfast in some parts of the world.
For early risers who want to have some fluffy goodness in the morning, here are 6 popular places which serve up some of the best pancakes in Tokyo. And they are among the city’s top breakfast/brunch spots too (but be ready to wait – there are often long queues outside these premises especially on weekends!).
Eggs ‘n Things
Image: othree on flickr / CC BY 2.0
“Sit back, relax and enjoy the Hawaiian atmosphere” pretty sums up the feel you can expect of this famous breakfast place originating in Oahu, Hawaii. The restaurant dishes out tasty breakfast all day long, besides the best-selling omelettes, crepes, waffles, and local Hawaiian dishes, the most raved about menu item at Eggs ‘n Things is no doubt the pancake plate that is topped with strawberry, macadamia nuts and towering whipped cream (¥1,180). The busy Harajuku outlet was the first Eggs ‘n Things branch in Japan, but there are two more locations in Tokyo – the Ginza and Odaiba outlets – where you can get your fix of pancakes satisfied.
Hours: 8 AM to 10:30 PM
Access: 2 minutes’ walk from Tokyo Metro Meiji-Jingumae Station Exit 5, or 6 minutes’ walk from JR Harajuku Station Omotesando Exit.
Image: Shinya Suzuki on flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0
Bubby’s is known for serving up generously-sized American comfort food in a homey setting. Hails from Tribeca, New York, this popular brunch spot is often buzzing with local and international diners looking to fill up on the shop’s signature burgers and a selection of scrumptious homemade fruit pies. In the morning, it serves up classic American breakfast, egg benedict, bagel, and the delicious sour cream pancake – one large piece that is topped with strawberry and banana slices (¥980). Besides Ark Hills in Roppongi, Bubby’s also has several other outlets around Tokyo, including Shiodome, Kichijoji, and Tokyo Station.
Hours: 8 AM to 11 PM (weekdays) / 10 AM to 10 PM (weekends and holidays)
Location: Ark Mori Building, 2nd floor
Access: 1 minute walk from the Exit 3 of Tokyo Metro Roppongi-Itchome Station.
Image: bryan… on flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
In Sarabeth’s first Japanese branch in Shinjuku, you can still find the elegance that is unique to the “Breakfast Queen of New York” in the ambience, interior, and also the food it serves. Open from morning till night, the breakfast menu here consists of many Sarabeth’s staples such as eggs benedict, French toast, four flowers juice, and the pancakes – lemon and ricotta (¥1,450) is classic but seasonal variations are available from time to time too. The store also sells freshly baked goods for those who want a quick bite, as well as Sarabeth’s award-winning preserves which make a wonderful gift. Apart from Shinjuku, another two outlets in Tokyo are located in the Tokyo Station area and Shinagawa respectively.
Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM
Location: Lumine Shinjuku, Lumine 2, 2nd floor
Access: 1 minute walk from Shinjuku Station South Exit or Keio Shinsen Exit.
Image: Wei-Te Wong on flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
This super popular breakfast place was part of Bill Granger’s restaurant chain which started off in Sydney’s Darlinghurst in 1993. The restaurant serves up a morning menu consisting of Full Aussie breakfast, sweet corn fritters, scrambled eggs with toast, and more. But even if the pancakes are the sole reason for your visit, you are not alone because the ricotta hotcakes (¥1,500) are the biggest selling point at Bills. Served with fresh banana and honeycomb butter, the hotcakes are so light and fluffy with a melt-in-the-mouth texture, it sure lives up to the hype! Aside from Omotesando, Bills also has branches in Odaiba, Ginza, and Futakotamagawa.
Hours: 8:30 AM to 11:30 PM
Location: Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, 7th floor
Access: 1 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Meiji-Jingumae Station Exit 5, or 4 minutes’ walk from JR Harajuku Station.
Image: chinnian on flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Located in the stylish Daikanyama T-Site complex, Ivy Place is a great spot to enjoy a quiet and peaceful moment over some exquisite breakfast foods – either inside the spacious and elegantly decorated café area, or on the terrace that is perfect for early morning al-fresco dining. The breakfast menu features a variety of items such as homemade granola, egg dishes, smoothies, and of course, the buttermilk pancakes (¥1,300) which are always a hit among the customers. Served with butter and choice of honey or maple syrup, you can also choose to upgrade your order with additional fresh cream or fruits for a truly satisfying pancake experience!
Hours: Breakfast, 7 AM to 10:45 AM / Lunch, 11:30 AM to 3PM / Pancakes, 7 AM to 5 PM / Dinner, 6 PM to 10 PM / Bar, 5:30 PM to 11 PM
Access: 6 minutes’ walk from Daikanyama Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line.
Clinton Street Baking Company
Image: gamemall104 on flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
First opened on New York’s Lower East Side by a husband and wife team who aspired to make the best baked goods in the city, Clinton Street Baking Company’s mouth-watering breakfast fare includes brioche French toast, smoked salmon potato pancakes, and huevos rancheros. The star of the restaurant is the pancakes (¥1,600), served with warm maple butter and topped with blueberry or banana walnut. The blueberry pancake is actually more popular as it was voted “best in the city” twice by New York Magazine, but many people also swear by the sublime flavour of the banana walnut pancake – having a hard time choosing is normal in this case!
Hours: 9 AM to 9 PM (weekdays) / 8 AM to 9 PM (weekends and holidays)
Access: 6 minutes’ walk from the B1 Exit of Tokyo Metro Omotesando Station.