Archive for the ‘Pancakes’ Category


Waffling in Thailand

In Food,Pancakes on August 14, 2013 by triotriotrio Tagged: ,

Bangkok waffles

It must be the maple syrup. Or maybe it is that they are both served at breakfast? But one fact remains – waffles are not pancakes.

Waffles have a completely different make up that make them worthy of study and tasting.

On a recent trip to Bangkok, I found myself at a mall that styles itself as the ‘Pride of Bangkok.’

One of the reasons this shopping mall deserves such a high ranking is that there is a fabulous food court in the basement. I do not mean a Chick-fil-A, Cinnabon and Orange Julius filled space. The food court was filled will stalls, everyone was busily making wonderful spring rolls, pad Thai and stir-fry. By I was attracted to the man making waffles.

He had a variety of varieties, strawberries, Nutella, bananas and powered sugar. The little squares are the perfect receptacles for all the goodies. Sometimes foods do not translate in a different environment. But the Thai – they know food.


When a blueberry met a pancake

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes on April 16, 2013 by triotriotrio Tagged: , , , ,


A sad showing for a dish with such rich heritage

Throughout history there have been great food meetings. When peanut butter met jelly, ice cream and the cone and the hot dog and the bun, these are just a few.

But I would like to think that when the blueberry met the pancake, this encounter was just as important as the previous encounters mentioned. I have no historical proof, but I imagine that the blueberry is responsible for the pancake filling phenomena. The humble and simple blueberry took the pancake to its next level of greatness.

I enjoy a plain pancake but the ones that really get me excited are the ones that a little more complex.

Saffron Bakery

Stanley Beach, Hong Kong

Sunday was a beautiful day. It was clear and warm and I was spending the day checking out an art exhibition along the promenade. Saffron Bakery is an independent bakery that has a reputation for some speculator-baked goods. Their coconut tart is one of my favorites. As you can imagine, I was excited to see that the Sunday special was Blueberry Pancakes.

I will not go into much detail because they were a complete failure. The experience would turn me off from ever trying them again.

Low points:

1. Thimble of syrup, just plain stingy

2. No sides (butter or powered sugar)

3. Starchy (heavy and undercooked, I could detect pieces of uncooked baking power in the middle)

High points:

1. The blueberries were the small ripe type that still had a little pop in them.

I am sad to say that the McDonald’s next door serves a finer hotcake at 25% the price. Very disappointing outing especially since I like to support local businesses.

Final Rating:

Some Merit –  ★★


Pancake by any other name

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes,Updates on April 8, 2013 by triotriotrio


JQ and the Beggar’s Chicken

The Ching Ming Festival in Hong Kong is one of the traditional Chinese holidays that give people an opportunity to remember and honor their ancestors at gravesites. Sometimes known as Tomb Sweeping Day, it is a family day where remembrance and celebration are combined to create a special period where busy families can be together.

Like many Hong Kong holidays, I feel a little out of touch. I have no tombs to visit and no relatives to commune with. But like many expats I have taken the opportunity to embrace the day and celebrate it my own way. After all, a day off is a day off.

It was on this occasion that I celebrated with several friends (new and old) at a traditional Chinese restaurant. This place is best known for their Peking duck and their Beggar’s chicken. This is a dish that the chicken is baked in a clay enchasing with herbs and other spices. The clay hardens during the cooking process and one of the joys of this dish is one of the luck party gets to take a big hammer and smash it open. It is delicious.

The meal came to an end and the dessert menu appeared. There are several points that I would like to make at this juncture:

  1. After such a gluttonous meal, there was no need for dessert
  2. Chinese desserts tend to be very different from Western desserts
  3. Pancakes are not a dessert dish

It is times like this that I should forgo with dessert but the menu did sport two pancake selections, and being a person with a considerable curiosity, it was imperative to try them. The first pancake had a red bean filling and the second had a date filling.

“A pancake by any other name would be just as sweet”

The problem is that these were not pancakes. Like many other products on the streets of Hong Kong, things are called pancakes but in reality they are not. As a reminder, a pancake must meet four criteria:

  1. It must be made from a batter (flour based which is in liquid form before cooking)
  2. Must be prepared on a grill
  3. Must have a topping
  4. Two sided

“Pancakes” – photos by J Theunissen

As I suspected, these pancake imposters were in fact fritters. For simplicity sake, I will rate them based on the criteria standard.

  1. The mixture was made from a dough rather than a batter
  2. They were deep-fried
  3. No topping
  4. As stated, they had a filling

I will acknowledge that they were good, especially the date one. The deep-frying process however made them far too saturated with oil.

Hong Kong is a world city that gives the outsiders a unique insight to the Chinese diaspora. Along the way, culture has a way of getting side tracked and the nuances that make something so unique are lost. In the same way that I will never quite understand Tomb Sweeping Day, I am not sure if Chinese people will really understand the pancake.


The Pancake Queen

In Food,Pancakes,Updates,Vacation on December 30, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

Nestled in the heart of the Ferringi neighborhood of Penang is a wonderful night market. It is a great setup. Haukers are lined up around the periphery and hundreds of picnic tables are in the center. Each table has a number and when you place your order at a stall you tell the attendant your table number and when the food is prepared they bring it to your table and collect the money.

This night market really has it all. Traditional Malay dishes like satay were available right off the coals. Indian food was abundant. The absolute best vindaloo I ever had was there. And there were also Chinese and Western stalls from everything from hamburgers to roast lamb.

But it was the sign that first caught my attention: The Pancake Queen. Let me begin by saying that I am suspicious of any royal titles when it comes to food preparation. With the Papaya King hotdog stand in New York City as a notable exception, titles often don’t stand up to the hype.

I was pleasantly surprised when I inspected the pancake menu to discover that in fact these were indeed pancakes and not those flat rice wafers that are sometimes served with some Thai dishes. No – these were cakes from the griddle complete with maple syrup and an endless number of toppings.

I quickly scanned the selections: strawberry, chocolate chip, pecan, sourdough, gingerbread, apple, cinnamon and the list went on and on. Each selection was accompanied with its own photo.

I was overwhelmed. In part because I had no expectation to find pancakes on this trip and to boot pancakes of such variety. Over two separate visits I tried two creations. I wish I had had more time to try them all.

Banana and Walnut

This is a classic combination. In some ways this was my first choice because it is such a diner staple that it provided a great point of comparison. Hands down this was the finest assembled stack that I have ever had.

In Chinese cooking, wok dishes are often cooked separately and the at the end all the wonderful pieces are put together. This dish was made in that same spirit.

The cakes were grilled, light and had wonderful lift. They were complex but were not overpowering. The walnut concoction was not mixed into the batter, but the nuts had been lightly toasted and candied to make them slightly sweet and sticky. This treatment allowed easy fork grabbing of equal portions of nuts to cake. Maple syrup – check. Light dusting of powered sugar – check. Butter pat – check. Scoop of premium vanilla ice cream – check. Lastly a whole banana split down the middle was placed on top. It had been sautéed in butter and was firm but tender to the fork.

★★★★★ Five Stars – it was a beautiful presentation and not a single addition could have made them better. Total cost – $3.00

Raisin Mix

Raisins are not a traditional pancake topping. I went with raisins as a second choice because I wanted to see how far the Pancake Queen could push her talents. Was she so bold that she thought she could pull this off or did she have the chops to impress me again?

The first bite made me immediately think of fruitcake. But good fruitcake! Perhaps this was a seasonal offering? But where fruitcake can be dry and stale this was moist and full of taste.

I quickly drifted off to a childhood dream where I thought of coming in from a fictitious sled ride, cheeks all rosy. There was snow on the ground and a roaring fire. On the kitchen table was a prepared stack of my mom’s pancakes waiting for me.

I awoke from the dream to discover that I was in southeast Asia, it was 85 degrees, the air was filled with gnats, I was sitting at a rickety table with an unknown Chinese family and that my reality was better than my fantasy.

★★★★★ Five Stars – Total cost – $3.00. I did not think it was possible to take a well-known entity like fruitcake and improve upon it to the point where I will never again be happy with Christmas cake.

I asked her majesty, the Pancake Queen for a photo that she happy to oblige a humble servant an audience. I got the feeling she gets this requests a lot. I walked away with a feeling of regret. It’s never going to get any better than this I thought.


Crepes Are Not Pancakes

In Food,Pancakes on December 4, 2011 by triotriotrio Tagged:

When I see pancakes on a menu, I expect to get pancakes. But sometimes pancakes are actually crepes. What is the difference?

I believe the fundamental difference is that crepes are meant to be a delivery mechanism for something else. The best crepes are often touted for the wonderful berry flavor or that chocolate hazelnut spread.

But pancakes are different because the spongy grilled cake is the main actor on the stage with the syrup, berry compote or the powered sugar as merely a supporting role.

Note to self – when abroad consider what is meant by “pancake” on the menu. Because in the end it may actually pancake’s French cousin the crepe.

Corinthia Hotel London
“Pancake” 1 Star


Starbucks Pancakes

In Food,Pancakes on December 3, 2011 by triotriotrio

Starbucks Pancakes 

As a child I always loved traveling to far away places. That is because I would get to try the regional specialities of the local McDonald’s. Whether it was the Lobster Roll in Maine or the peach pies in Georgia.

With that sense of adventure I had to try the pancakes at the London Starbucks.

My local Starbucks doesn’t have pancakes. I ordered them with a sense of adventure, not believing they would be any good.

Point one – no syrup. Point two – rubbery.
Point three – premade and then toasted.

Overall score: 2

It scored a 2 mainly because I appreciate the effort.


Chinese Pancakes

In Food,Hong Kong,Pancakes on October 18, 2011 by triotriotrio

Chinese pancake

In an effort to provide a fair and balanced review of all things related to the pancake, I am doing a write up on Chinese pancakes. Let me begin by saying that they are pancakes only in name. Thus, it would be unfair to subject this offering under the rigid scoring system that I have created. They do not count as pancakes in three major ways:

  1. They are a baked product, not made from a batter and grilled in a pan.
  2. They are filled with sweetened red bean paste.
  3. They are a hand food. No respectable pancake can be eaten with the hands. This is not to say that hand foods do not have their place, because they do.

Context: Throughout Hong Kong there wonderful bakeries. Many Hong Kong people do not have ovens in their homes, thus any bread or dessert type delicacies have to be purchased rather than made. The traditional bakeries have large bins that guests are invited to tong out their goodies, and then they take them to the counter to have bagged up. Many people stop at the bakeries in the morning to pick up on-the-go breakfasts. There are suitable snacking on buses and subways.

There are two things that have recently happened. I have been stopping by a bakery before I go to work. Second, I have put on a little weight. I think the two are related. The bakeries have wonderful raisin and cinnamon twist, donuts, coconut buns and red bean buns.

Revelation:  As I was picking at my morning snack I discovered among the other offerings a “Red Bean Pancake.” I immediately spotted it as an imposter. This is no more real than the $20 Hermes belt I got in Shenzhen. But I decided to purchase it anyway in order to give it a try.

Review: The red bean pancake is based upon the red bean bun. One of the main differences is that the red bean bun is made with pastry type dough and the pancake is more like a cake donuts. Red bean paste is not everybody’s cup of tea. But I like it. Chinese pancakeBut is definitely not a Western taste for breakfast.

Final Analysis: Like it – but definitely not a pancake.