The line of customers was down the block when the Flipper’s hostess arrived for her 10 a.m. shift this past Friday. The only problem? The pancake restaurant wasn’t set to open for another hour.
Grand openings are always hectic. One may argue this is especially true for this Japanese chain and the opening of its first U.S. location.
"I’ve been here since 10 a.m., and the line has been this long all day," shared the hostess as she poured water for patrons waiting outside. "The people at the front of the line have been waiting for three and a half hours," she continued. "I did not expect this."
The strawberry pancakes are perfectly fluffy and just sweet enough, with a jiggle that the waiter told us is exactly what the brand is famous for. Something to keep in mind: all soufflé pancakes take about twenty minutes to prepare.
It’s these soufflé pancakes at Flipper’s, specifically, that are drawing such a crowd. Known in Japan for their delicately fluffy texture and jiggle, they’re a must-try for anyone looking to satisfy their sweet tooth.
"We took the menu from Japan, and worked with chefs to localize the items," one of the managers told us. "It’s the original Japanese recipe, but it has a localized twist."
We were served the decadent strawberry parfait about 15 minutes after finishing our pancakes. The parfait was considerably sweeter than the previous dish, with a nice texture from the granola and lovely flavor from the ice cream. It is undoubtedly more of a dessert than a breakfast item, however.
The result of their concept of keeping tradition, with a "localized twist" is a menu that features not only classics such as the soufflé pancakes with fresh fruit and cream, but also various parfaits, eggs Benedict, and even a Flipper’s take on chicken and waffles.
However, if one were to travel to their headquarters in Japan, they’d find themselves somewhere a bit unexpected. Flipper’s is a “restaurant concept” created by a larger Japanese design company, explained the manager. The aesthetic of the space is just as important as the food.
"Japan has to approve everything," he said. "The coloration, the prints, the plants, everything."
"It sounds awesome, but it’s really time consuming," he said, grinning.
Flipper’s in SoHo had been a work in progress for eight months before its grand opening. There are additional locations in Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan.