Like a rising soufflé, Fuwa Fuwa takes pancakes to new heights.
The taste is so familiar it will bring back childhood memories of weekend breakfasts with your family, but you will also be surprised how different these pancakes are from the flapjacks at your local diner. This is Fuwa Fuwa—Japanese for “fluffy fluffy”—a new Annex eatery that is introducing Toronto to the latest Japanese take on a traditional dish.
Benson Lau and co-owner Yuka Naka hit on the idea for soufflé pancakes while they were both studying pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Tokyo. “We think that pancakes make people happy and when we opened a dessert shop, we wanted to make people happy.” True to their culinary background, they treat the pancake as a serious dish, finding ways to explore its possibilities while still elevating its essential pancakeyness. When I ask if it is just the toppings that change from one menu item to the next, Benson corrects me: “What matters is the balance.”
For example, “the tiramisu is cheese and chocolate, so we have a slightly bitter espresso sauce that cuts through the richness. For the crème brûlée, the caramel on top is crispy and the pancake is soft in the middle, so we are playing more with the texture. For different plates, although the pancake itself is the same, when it all comes together, each is a different experience.”
Soufflé pancakes originated in Osaka, where Yuka grew up. There, they are served at celebrations, especially weddings. The thick cakes are made with beaten egg whites and cooked at a carefully controlled temperature to create an amazing cloud-like texture halfway between a pancake and a soufflé. The kitchen at Fuwa Fuwa makes its batter fresh every morning with freshly cracked eggs. When my order arrives, Benson shakes the plate proudly to display the trademark soufflé pancake jiggle.
Benson says he chose Toronto for the city’s open-mindedness and Torontonians’ appetite for originality and new food trends from around the globe. A quick stop by the café shows that locals have embraced it with open arms. Even at 3 pm on a weekday the dining room is packed. Westerners like to come for breakfast or brunch and Japanese people typically come for afternoon tea, which is a traditional time to eat something sweet.
Fuwa Fuwa Japanese Pancakes
408 Bloor St. W., Toronto | 647-618-2868
OPEN: Mon–Thurs 11 am–7:30 pm
Fri 11 am–10 pm • Sat 10 am–10 pm Sun 10 am–7:30 pm