If you haven’t heard, there’s a place in Tokyo serving up giant fluffy pancakes that people are going crazy for. They’ve been featured on all sorts of different media outlets and I first heard about these jiggly pancakes in a Business Insider video and once I found out they were in Tokyo (where I was headed in just a few weeks), I decided I’d have to give them a try.
After trying them out first-hand, I can attest that these are some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had and although the cafe only produces a limited amount each day, it’s not too difficult to get your hands on them. Here’s everything you need to know about the famous pancakes of Cafe Gram in Tokyo.
Getting to Cafe Gram
Let’s start by getting to the restaurant. The restaurant is located in a shopping and entertainment area on Takeshita street. This area is full of souvenir shops, department stores, toy stores, crêperies, ice cream eateries, and of course, Cafe Gram. It’s aimed at the younger crowds (I feel so old writing that), but it’s got a little something for everyone and makes for a nice little stop while in Tokyo.
An easy way to get there from central Tokyo is to head to Harajuku Station via the JR Yamanote Line. (Harajuku Station is one stop over from Shibuya Station, the site of the famous crosswalk where mayhem ensues.) Once you arrive at Harajuku Station, you’ll walk through the Takeshita Street gate where you can catch yourself on a ribbon board running across the gate, just watch out for incoming traffic if you opt for a pic.
You’ll follow this main street until you see a 7/11 and then you’ll take a right, as shown in the map below. It’s about a 4 to 5 minute walk from the station, so it’s extremely easy and convenient to get there.
Once you turn right from the main street, it might not look like there’s anything there but just keep walking down the street and then you’ll see the little green cafe on your left! (In case you’re wondering, there’s a little bit more room in the cafe than what what it looks like from the outside.)
Making sure you get your pancakes
As stated, Cafe Gram only serves these “premium” pancakes 3X a day and they only make ~20 servings at each serving time. These serving times are at 11am, 3pm, and 6pm. Moreover, they only allow a couple of people to have their pancakes at certain 15 to 30 minute increments. Thus, for the 11am slot, they may only allow a couple of people to eat at 11am, then 11:30am, then noon, and so on. For one serving, it will cost you about $10 USD.
I recommend going for the 11am slot as that’s what time the cafe opens, and I’m not sure how far in advance they take reservations for the 3pm and 6pm slots. Although the cafe officially opens at 11am, there are workers inside who will occasionally pop out of the cafe before 11am and take your name down for a reservation. Therefore, I recommend you arriving there 30 minutes to an hour before 11am and trying to get the attention of a staff member who can then take down your name and give your your pancake “tickets” (it’s pretty serious over there).
Once you have your premium pancake tickets you can then wander around the area, checking out all of the shops to kill some time before your reservation. If you don’t have data on your phone you can slip into the McDonalds nearby and take advantage of their free wifi.
The pancake experience
We entered the cafe about 10 minutes before our reservation time and were seated promptly. They give you a chance to order other items if you’re hungry but considering how big these pancakes were, we decided to save as much room in our appetite as we could for them and just waited for them to arrive. After about 15 minutes, the servers delivered our two fluffy pancake towers to us.
They come topped with butter and powdered sugar, some form cream on the side, and a small container of maple syrup (though you could probably ask for other helpings). I think everyone else who ordered the pancakes watched the same videos that we did as everyone’s first instinct seemed to be to give their plate a shake and watch these pancakes jiggle a bit.
After playing around with the pancakes stacks a bit it was time to try them out.
To be honest, I had somewhat low expectations for the pancakes as I’ve found that “gimmicky” foods don’t always pack the best flavors and I wasn’t crazy about the meringue used in the recipe. However, I decided to douse the stack with some syrup and see how it worked out.
So how did they taste?
I can honestly say the pancakes blew me away!
They were creamy but still resembled the texture of “real” pancakes enough to enjoy without trying to get used to something foreign hitting your palate. It might be a challenge for you to get all the way down to the last pancake and finish it, but with enough willpower you can do it! And if you fail, I think you’ll enjoy every second of your attempt so go for it anyway!
I’d never experienced pancakes quite like these before but I’m very glad that we gave them a try. Not only are they a novelty, but they’re a tasty novelty at that. Cafe Gram is so easy to access that if you’re in Tokyo and interested in trying these, you should definitely give them a try. Just remember to show up at least 30 minutes to an hour early to put your name on the list and you should be fine.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.