Swing by Hanabusa Café for some of the softest sweet treats you’ve tasted.

02Though it serves the coffees and matcha lattés you’d expect from a Japanese café, Kensington Market’s recently opened Hanabusa Café brings something wholly new to the Toronto Japanese sweet scene: soufflé pancakes!

What, you ask, is a soufflé pancake? Why, just the most delightfully soft, airy dessert you could ever imagine. However, that airiness is pleasantly grounded by the “soufflé” part of the pancake, using eggs to impart a custard-like flavour and weight. This combination of pancake and soufflé gives a texture similar to a firm mousse.

Hanabusa’s version of this gastronomical wonder is the culmination of more than eight months of culinary trial and error by café co-owner and head baker Hayley. Drawing on her engineering background, she approached the challenge with a strategy that was nothing short of scientific. “It was like lab work,” she laughs, explaining how she experimented with pancake after pancake and compared notes with her sister (who is studying baking in Japan) before achieving the perfect recipe.

To complement this delectable creation, Hanabusa garnishes all of its pancakes with blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream, then tops them with a selection of different sauces. The most popular option, crème brûlée, features three small pancakes stacked and smothered with a rich custard, capped with a shell of caramelized sugar to match its namesake.

03My favourite part, however, had to be the tea-based sauces. Though I’m always a bit wary of tea-flavoured desserts (with tea it’s tough to find that flavour sweet spot between bland and overpowering), I’m happy to report that Hanabusa has absolutely nailed its tea sauces.

The matcha which is a thinner purable sauce —is sweet, slightly smoky, and offers only the slimmest hint of an astringent note to balance the sweetness in it. The jasmine tea has a similar balance between sweet and astringent flavours (even carrying notes of matcha within it). It was probably my top pick, featuring Hanabusa’s thicker, more custard-like sauce with a luxurious, velvety texture.

In addition to Hanabusa’s six regular versions of its soufflé pancake, every month it introduces a new, limited-edition flavour—like honey lemon or pineapple coconut. To discover what Hanabusa’s got up its sleeve for this month, check it out on Instagram, @hanabusacafe, or swing by the café!

Staff: Nicholas Jones

Nicholas lived in a tiny fishing village in Hokkaido from 2009 to 2011. Ostensibly, he taught English, but he spent most of his time wrangling elementary students and frequenting their parents’ sushi restaurants. He is currently on a quest to find Toronto’s best kara-age.


Hanabusa Café

77 Kensington Ave., Toronto 647-350-8779


OPEN: Daily 11 am–6:30 pm