J.S. Pancake Cafe, Sapporo

As we expand our very excellent local Sapporo restaurant review to include the category of breakfast, we are very happy to introduce you to one of the best restaurants for breakfast in Sapporo, J.S. Pancake Cafe.

Sapporo’s J.S. Pancake Cafe is on the 3rd floor of the shopping mall (Stellar Place) that is part of Sapporo station.  If you can find the Starbucks in Stellar Place, take the escalator up to the 3rd floor and if you wander around a little (preferably toward the east side of that floor) you’ll find J.S. Pancakes.

The “J.S.” in their name stands for Johnson Store.  Johnson Store Pancake Cafe is part of the larger company Johnson Homes, which builds houses.  They also operate several home furnishing stores, including Johnson Store in downtown Sapporo (not far from Odori station), several inZone shops, an inZone restaurant (also in Stellar Place), and several hamburger shops in Sapporo under the name The Johnson Burger.

In America, pancakes are up there with the top choices of classic breakfast foods. Even here in Sapporo, I have been known to make pancakes at home.  But in Japan, they seem to have a special love of pancakes and souffle pancakes in particular.

On my first trips to Tokyo, years ago, I had my first pancakes at a souffle pancake shop.  These were pancakes that were two or three cm tall, Japanese pancakes are “vertically” taller than the pancakes I’d had in American.  I am tempted to say they were thick (like a cake), but they are also light, or “fluffy.”

I don’t think I had ever seen the concept of a souffle pancake in the US, but the pancakes at J.S. Pancake shop at Sapporo station do seem to be basically in that style.

Can you read that?

“We make the pancake one by one, with care for the fluffier perfect pancake.”  Does that mean light, fluffy souffle style pancake?  I think it does. “Enjoy the ‘fuwa-mochi’ taste.” And what does that mean??? I am a simple American, and my Japanese is terrible (if you read this blog often, you already know that), but: fuwafuwa (フワフワ) means “fluffy.”  So, yeah… this is a Japanese style pancake experience.  It should be totally familiar to anyone that has ever had a pancake, but based on that fluffiness (presumably from more use egg in the batter?), it may be more French (souffle) than American.

The pancakes at J.S. Pancake Cafe in Sapporo are not super “tall,” but at a little taller than a centimeter, they are fluffy.  We have some very good pictures below.

For example, on a recent trip to J.S. Pancakes I ordered the pancakes and lasagna (pictured above).  There is some fluffiness on display there.  And there is also some maple butter worth noticing in that shot (the maple butter is a great part of J.S.).

And you can also see the lasagna, and begin to understand that J.S. likes to mix pancakes with savory additions, taking pancakes beyond a purely breakfast tradition.

There are so many good choices.  As you pour over the menu, you’ll see the traditional breakfast combination of pancakes, sausage and eggs; and they offer a “special” breakfast combo of steak and eggs (and… pancakes). But J.S. Pancakes in Sapporo also offers less traditional, more exotic options like the aforementioned lasagna, and the Japanese-import idea of the Hamburg and pancakes.  (If you love the hamburg idea, don’t miss our review of North Continent Hamburg Steak here in Sapporo).

There is also their own hybrid between eggs benedict – which is classically done with an English muffin – as they put poached eggs atop their fluffy pancakes.  Does that look good?  I think it does.

I have been coming to J.S for pancakes at Sapporo Station for many years.  My previous favorite order was the tandoori chicken with pancakes – but it is no longer available.  The menu does change up from time to time, but everything I have had at this little pancake cafe in Sapporo has been delicious.

There is a lunch menu at Sapporo’s J.S. Pancakes.  And the meal comes in slightly different sizes for lunch, and they offer a set, and give you a little bit of break on price.  Good stuff.

And while I do like the tradition of the “lunch set” in Sapporo, and the set come with a drink, I rarely get the set. And that is because of another of my favorite reasons to come to J.S. Pancake restaurant, which is their in-house blend of tea.

They have a J.S. special blend of tea that is very good. A dark tea (I assume it’s a black tea), with a mild sweet fruitiness to it (even without adding any sugar).  You pay a little more than you would if you drink the standard tea that comes with the set, but I recommend it.

And while J.S. Pancake Shop is in the mall, the decore is another feature that makes this spot special.

The interior isn’t completely authentic (to any tradition), but includes a clear influence of western architecture.  It’s has a faux-country feel, with the distressed wood and paned-windows.  Compared to the local Japanese penchant for plastic and other inorganic materials, it feels very comfortable and homey and I like it; it feels good to sit down and enjoy the meal.

I like J.S. Pancakes.  I recommended it. And because you know we like to keep it real on this blog, we will give you the downside to coming to J.S. Pancakes…

The line can be terrible.

J.S. Pancakes is not fast food.  It takes a while to be seated. And it takes a while for your food to come after you order – “we make the pancake one by one.”  I believe that.

Because I know it can take more than 30 minutes to be seated, I don’t come to J.S. Pancakes as often as I might if they could turn over the tables a little faster.

On my most recent visit, I pointed out to my friend that while the line takes a long time, it is common to look around the restaurant and see many open tables.

In the picture above, all three of those tables are empty (some were empty for over 10 minutes when I took this shot), and directly behind that wall you can see the heads of the many people outside… waiting for a table.  Why is that?  Maybe they only seat people when the kitchen is below a certain number of orders?  Maybe the reason why there is always a very long line at J.S. Pancakes (besides the fact that the food is very good) is because the kitchen is too small to serve that many tables?  I can’t say, I am only guessing here.

In terms of recommendation: Unless you don’t mind sitting around for at least half an hour, I only come to J.S. Pancakes at or just after 10 AM (which is when they open) on weekdays.  I would never come around lunch, or on weekends… because I don’t like to wait in line.

I really like J.S. Pancake Cafe for it’s exceptional food and the artful design of the cafe, but I personally would only go early on a weekday.

While this was our first review of a pancake restaurant in Sapporo, we have since added a recent review of Sapporo’s 幸せのパンケーキ A Happy Pancake restaurant.  We’ll come back and revise this review as we have other recommendations for breakfast in Sapporo.

For some non-breakfast recommendations nearby we can make a few recommendations. In the same building, but up on the 6th floor, the Tokachi butadon restaurant (on the 6th floor) is a great choice.  And while as of yet we have not yet done a review, the Belgian restaurant Paul’s is nearby, and is a special place that is worth checking out.

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