HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pancakes. They are what make most breakfasts extra special. From to savory fillings and from thick to crepe-style, pancakes have a way of being all things to all people.
Pancakes have origins with a few different nations from humanity’s past.
Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You
The history of the gridled cake
In Central Asia in the region we now know as Persia, the inhabitants are credited with creating pancakes roughly 30,000 years ago. This was a mixture of powdered seeds, tubers and nuts mixed with water and cooked into a proto-pancake on a heated stone.
For the Chinese, it was around 220 CE. Legend has it that Zhuge Liang, who was the chancellor of the state of Shu Han, needed to find a way to feed his soldiers food that would not only satisfy them with flavor and texture but also to provide power-packed nutrition while out in the field.
He was struggling to find an effective way to feed his soldiers because they had lost their cooking supplies during battle. This is when the “Jianbing”, a light, crispy crepe-like pancake, was first conceptualized. According to historians, this new food helped both sustain soldiers on the battlefield and boosted morale amongst the soldiers.
Jianbing are a combination of bean and wheat flours and are now a staple in many Chinese homes as well as street corners across China.
In Japan, the earliest form of pancakes came about in the 1500s. It is known as the “Funo-yaki” and was created by Sennorikyuu who is the founder of the Japanese tea ceremony.
For Sennorikyuu, pancakes were made with mixed flour, water and sake and then chargrilled. He then spread the pancakes with sweet miso, rolled them and cut them into bite-sized portions. However, this treat fell out of popularity by the mid-1600s.
In our modern world, the base concept of a pancake is fairly universal. However, many countries tout their own “best” pancakes. Across Europe, crepe stands offer hundreds of variations on crepes the lure millions of pancake lovers to indulge in their sweet and savory selections.
In the United States, pancakes come slathered with maple syrup and butter; but in France, they make thin crepes which are made from wheat flour or buckwheat without a raising agent like baking powder or soda.
There are other global varieties which include the Ethiopian injera, the Korean buchimgae, the North Indian cheela, the Venezuelan cachapas, the South Indian dosa, the American Dutch babies and the Moroccan msemen.
Where to find the best pancakes in Hawaiʻi
Cinnamon’s is a local favorite for brunch any day of the week. At Cinnamon’s you can enjoy their famous Guava Chiffon Pancakes and Red Velvet Pancakes.
Sweet E’s Cafe is located on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu.
Aloha Kitchen has yummy Japanese souffle pancakes in a variety of traditional and local toppings.
Cafe Kaila is located on Kapiʻolani Boulevard.
Liliha Bakery is another local favorite that offers pancakes as well as a variety of atmospheres from which to choose. For a cat-bird seat experience, you can check out their original location on Kuakini Street.
For a more traditional diner experience, you can go to their Nimitz Highway and Macy’s Ala Moana locations. For a sleek modern experience, you can to their International Market Place
Waikīkī and Pearl Highlands Center Pearl City locations.
Orchids is located in the Halekulani Hotel on the beach in Waikīkī.
The Highway Inn has three locations in Kakaʻako and Waipahu and they have a cafe location in the Bishop Museum as well as offering catering options.
The Hideout at the Laylow is located in Waikīkī.
Basalt is located in Waikīkī and offers the unique Charcoal Buttermilk Pancakes.
Diamond Head Grill is located on Monsarrat Avenue and offers breakfast pancakes.
Cloud Nine Cafe is located on Kapiolani Boulevard and offers a diverse selection of fluffy pancakes as well as Castella cakes that have both sweet and savory options.
The Cream Pot is located in the Hawaiian Monarch in Waikīkī.
Eggs ‘N Things has four locations across Oʻahu.
On Hawaiʻi Island
Hawaiian Style Cafe is located in Waimea.
Ken’s House of Pancakes is located in Hilo.
The ʻUlu Ocean Grill is located inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Kailua-Kona.
Kihei Caffe is located on South Kihei Road.
Kula Bistro is located on Lower Kula Road.
Kountry Kitchen is located in Kapaʻa.
Russell’s by Eat Healthy has bit sized pancakes. They are located in Kapaʻa.
Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co. is located in Kalaheo.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
Now that you know where to get the best pancakes in town, you can indulge in National Pancake Day and feel good about supporting local businesses.