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Nothing quite conjures up the image of a perfect morning such as the gentle sun falling on a steaming hot platter of soft pancakes, stacked up high with a pat of melting butter atop, and velvety rivulets of maple syrup dripping gently off the sides. Accompanied, perhaps, by a large cup of strong, near-ebony coffee. And then, if you are the sort that subscribes to a pancake meal at any time of the day (or year), this versatile, plump crêpe is quite well-represented at several eateries across town.
At Tien, for instance, a strong commitment to healthy eating gives way to a whole wheat flapjack version – in the style of a typical US or Canadian brekkers – served as plate of thick, sliced pancake triangles, all offered with butter and maple syrup. Toppings include a super-fragrant, molten cinnamon-stewed-apple-honey one (probably our favourite), another with caramelised bananas and nutrition-packed chia seeds, a third sinful mix of melting dark chocolate with almond slivers, or a seasonal mixed fruit version (with some tart pear slices).
Santé Spa Cuisine offers a similarly healthsome version, but this one is additionally packaged in an innovative cloak of exotic flavour. Here, the pancakes are made of ground spiced oatmeal, redolent with aromats like ginger, garlic and Thai galangal, cooked on a griddle and served with a cooling tzatziki of yoghurt, dill and finely chopped cucumber.
Over at Shizusan, this dish take on a bit of an indulgent twist – an ode to Japanese fusion flavour, the pancakes are composed mainly of a tempura flour, with julienned bits of cabbage, carrot and onion packed in for some added crunch. These crisp savoury cakes are then topped with a big (artistically-arranged) splash of super-creamy-rich kewpie mayo, and a drizzle of astoundingly umami okonomi sauce (soya sauce, mirin, sugar, etc), along with a unique scattering of shredded seaweed.
In line with such global explorations, Beetroot Bistro does an innovative, Middle East-inspired version of the pancake, with a mild, creamy, garlicky, house-made hummus spread on every layer, along with a sauté of carrots, broccoli and zucchini to accompany the creation for some salty and textural depth. Interestingly, the batter for the pancakes is kept mildly sweetish, proving a rather good offset to the rest of the savoury ingredients.
11 East Street Café keeps it quite exotic, too, with an unexpected Ethiopian twist to the proceedings. The chilled-out restaurant serves its pancakes as flattened griddle cakes made of mashed potato, while the topping is in the style of an Ethiopian doro wat sauce – this is a fiery, buttery stew full of chillies and spices, which goes best with mild and rich starchy items, making it ideal for the creamy tater pancakes it is slathered onto here.
The concept of grated potato pancakes is continued at Arthur’s Theme, making for one of their delicious vegetarian entrées. Here, the melt-in-the-mouth pancakes are layered with a spicy, wholesome ratatouille of several veggies, accompanied by a side of butter-sautéed carrots and peas (Note: The restaurant also has an interesting dessert version of this item, full of raisins marinated in rum and flambéed, lending it a yummy caramelised patina).
Interestingly, Aufside @ Hotfut does a ratatouille-pancake main course as well, with several healthy vegetables bubbled in a flavour-packed stew, stuffed into savoury flat cakes and topped with a cheesy sauce, after which it is oven-baked to gratinated perfection.
Peter’s Pan – one of the first eateries around town to offer classic (and budget) waffles and pancakes to enthusiastic gourmands – has a rather decent list of flavour options to order from. Of particular note, however, are two signature versions. The savoury one is drowned in a rich concoction of onion, corn and dill sour cream, topped additionally with piquant garlic-parsley butter. And, the interesting sweet option promises a crown of ‘peach melba’ – soft poached peaches with a tangy raspberry coulis, chocolate sauce and comforting vanilla ice cream.
As one moves on to the more popular, sweeter avatar of the pancake, it becomes essential to speak of The Chocolate Room – the in-house, vanilla-infused ‘melting marshmallow pancakes’ here are strewn with globs of soft, white and sweet marshmallows, mingling with chunks of white chocolate, vanilla ice cream and oodles of silken brown chocolate. Also worth your attention are their seasonal fruit variations of strawberry patch pancakes (for winter) and a mango patch variant (for summer) – both come with plenty of vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit and syrup/pulp/sauce versions of the respective fruit-hero of the dish.
Over at Pancake House, which is a roadside stall, the offerings belie the humble surroundings. Of special note here are the Black Forest pancakes, reminiscent of that classic cake we all spent so many birthdays devouring, topped with truly generous layers of sweetened whipped cream, a storm of chocolate shavings to melt on your tongue and a healthy sprinkle of crushed, preserved cherries for a heady twang.
True to its Latino theme, Café Columbia offers fancy Guatemalan ‘panqueques’ – the exotic nature of this dish is amply proved by its vast popularity in its country of origin, as a simple stack of warm pancakes, typically drizzled with plenty of honey and a big pile of diced, sweet, tropical fruit thrown on.
To end on a simple note, mention must be made of the classy plain pancakes at Moshes – these come as fluffy, triangular slices of soft breakfast bread, topped with a super unassuming dusting of powdered cinnamon and sugar, which lends them a surprisingly flavourful, subtle crunch.
So, the next time you’re really hungry, don’t flip out – just head to one of these places and get a nice tower of pancakes flipped onto your plate instead!
Follow Shweta @ShwetaKapur
Shweta has been writing about food for a few years now and has dabbled in TV, print and online journalism for over almost a decade. She has written on and edited for topics ranging from the environment, culture and lifestyle to politics, business and, of course, food. She has written for publications under the Times Group, Fox Life India and NDTV. When she's not devouring a good book or spending vast swathes of time on the Interweb, she loves to set off on all manner of culinary explorations.