In 2013 everybody started talking about “a pancake boom” in Japan. At first, I thought that pancakes were a popular American food imported all over the world, so why not in Japan? After all, any kind of “konamono sweets” (flour based sweets), like doughnuts, waffles and French toast, seem to be popular in Japan. When I asked my best friend about this trend, he said that the number of cafés serving pancakes has kept growing and growing the last couples of years. “Hottoke-ki” (hot cakes) or “panke-ki” stores around Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku continue to attract long lines of young –mostly female- pancake lovers. He still didn’t persuade me. Why do I need to come to Japan to eat pancakes? Because of Matsunosuke.
When I visited Kyoto I went to Matsunosuke Café and Pastry, an apple pie and sweets shop owned by the famous Japanese pastry chef, Akiko Hirano, who’s also the owner of Matsunosuke NY in Tokyo, a café and cooking school, as well as the co-owner of Café Rhinebeck in Kyoto along with Hudson Valley culinary arts teacher, Cheryl Jean.
The café was full so I had to sign up at the waiting list. The interior is simple and minimalistic. By the counter, customers can see all the different types of homemade apple pies and sweets that are baked either seasonally or all year round. Customers can choose from the delicious sour cream apple pie, the big apple pie, the custard apple pie and the maple apple pie served either with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel or maple syrup (or why not with everything?!) at an average price of ¥500 per piece.
Matsunosuke is also famous for its pancakes and scones (that unfortunately were already sold out when I got there). The menu includes both sweet and savory pancakes. The illustrated pictures looked so delicious that I had no choice but to order more than one and share them with my friend. We ordered the sausage egg pancake and the banana caramel pancake served with chopped bananas, whipped cream, and caramel syrup. Shortly after, two huge, soft, fluffy, thick, and slightly sweet pancakes were brought to our tables. We also ordered the big apple pie served with ice cream. It had a balanced taste; not too sweet and not too sour, and the combination of apple and cinnamon was just perfect. We rounded off the pancakes and apple pie combination, with iced coffee that had a smooth taste.
Matsunosuke Café and Pastry in Kyoto is a 3-minute walk from Karasuma-Oike Station and is open daily from 10.00-20.00.
Whether it will become a long lasting trend or not, Matsunosuke proves that the Japanese know how to make pancakes, and they’re actually good at it.