Japanese souffle pancakes have found a home in Chicago. The Toronto restaurant, Hanabusa, opened its second location in the Loop. These fluffy pancakes are taking over food Instagram as foodies rip into the jiggly, custard-like interiors.
The small cafe has a limited menu with only seven pancake options. They also serve espressos and teas. Hanabusa invited me and a friend in for a complimentary brunch. They asked that we come later in the day to avoid the rush. My college roommate Becca and I went Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was still packed. Clearly, Chicagoans crave these pancakes morning, noon, and night.
The counter-service restaurant is clean and bright. You place your order at the counter and take a number to the table. Seating is limited, so ditch the large group and plan an intimate brunch for two. Becca and I got a table for two in the window, where we sat on cushions on the window sill at a small tea table instead of in traditional chairs. It was cozy and casual. If you end up in a window seat, wear pants or a long dress, since it requires sitting cross-legged.
To drink, Becca went with hot cocoa and I took co-owners Kai Poon’s suggestion to try the espresso shot, with vanilla flavoring. I’m new to the world of coffee, but my drink was strong and not overly sweet. It definitely woke me up. The hot chocolate came in a large mug and was frothy and decadent.
For our entrees, Kai highlighted the two most popular pancake orders: matcha and Nutella. Matcha is a divisive flavor, where you’re either a fan or not. I’m a big fan. My plate came with three tall, jiggly souffle pancakes, sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with fresh berries. The matcha came in a small pitcher, to be drizzled on top. The herbal tea flavors of the matcha complimented the sweet custardy interior of the pancakes. It was not overpoweringly matcha- flavored, and if you’re interested in trying the green sensation, these pancakes are the perfect vessel since you choose how much to drizzle on top.
The pancakes were different than any other pancakes I’ve tried, and would near toward a combination of french toast and bread pudding. The fluffy, gelatinous insides are fun to eat and not heavy. Each plate has three, but they’re not very filling, so plan your meals accordingly.
Becca went with the Nutella pancakes. The inside of her cakes oozed rich Nutella. It was topped with bananas, whipped cream, and chopped peanuts. If you’re a fan of dessert for breakfast, this is the pancake to order.
The Bitches Say: Three Champagne Flutes
At Hanabusa, you’ll enjoy pancakes that are fluffy, sweet, and Instagram-worthy! Treat yourself to a mid-week brunch to beat the crowds.
Hanabusa serves pancakes Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.