French-style pancakes in Yokohama
Bright sunlight splashes onto the white-colored walls of the new restaurant Butter at Bay Quarter, the ship-themed shopping mall on the water at Yokohama station. For the folks outside, it’s a lazy sunny wait in a long queue as the the Sea Bass pulls in and out, ferrying people off to—and in from—Yamashita park, the Red Brick Warehouse and Minato Mirai. They’re all here for pancakes, and we’re well into ours.
The brunch-style menu here is based around fresh Hokkaido ingredients: its namesake, nama cream, yogurt and flour. Apart from basic flapjack grilling, the French flair of the soufflé brings it all together. We jumped right into the kamadashi (in the pan) triple berry cheese pancake (¥1,200) and the savory bacon and tomato omelette with potato pancake (¥1,480).
The kamadashi arrived still settling in its cast iron pan. Topped with a liberal spread of fresh whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, a whole-fruit raspberry sauce and a dusting of icing sugar, it looked every bit a dessert. It had a moist, velvety consistency and the berry sauces were surprisingly not overly sweet. The omelette and potato pancake was simple and understated. Served plain with an anchovy-infused butter on the side, the dish was more than a little bland. We found the fishy spread overpoweringly strong and stuck with simple salt-and-pepper seasonings to jazz up what’s basically a run-of-the-mill combo.
We couldn’t resist ordering the kamadashi soufflé pancake (¥1,180) and since it takes 30 minutes to bake, we ordered the murasaki imo (purple sweet potato) Mont Blanc with a caramelized pancake and nama cream (¥1,450). If that weren’t sweet enough for you already, it also hides Hokkaido fresh-made ice cream under the crispy candied topping and pureed purpled potato paste.
The soufflé was served in its skillet and accompanied by sides of fresh cream, ice cream, maple syrup and a fat dollop of butter. Piping hot with a fluffy, creamy and angel food soft melt-in-the-mouth texture—this is the art of the decidedly simply pancake. Aunt Jemima this is not.
The dishes are certainly photogenic and get extra marks for looking exactly like their glossy promo photos. So if food porn is your thing, there is plenty of consenting subject matter to clog your Facebook and Instagram feeds.
If you haven’t had negligibly nutritious hotcakes in a while, it’s disconcerting how delightful a little flour, eggs and milk can be. That said, you’re also in danger of falling into a diabetic coma after finishing off a whole serving.
Go with friends and share—then go for a long, vigorous walk around the beautiful Yokohama waterfront area to stimulate insulin production. We want you portside, not portly.
Metropolis Magazine website