I tried the viral Japanese soufflé pancakes people waited 4 hours in line for and they were the best I've ever had

Ian BurkePopular Japanese soufflé pancake shop Flipper’s opened in New York City on October 2.

When Japanese soufflé pancake shop Flipper’s opened its first US outpost in Manhattan on October 2, people waited up to four hours in line to get a taste.

The beloved Japanese chain, which also has locations in Taiwan, Korea, and Hong Kong, has since become even more popular on Instagram with its famously fluffy pancakes.

I trekked uptown to see if these pancakes lived up to the hype – and for the most part, they totally did. Although I’m not usually a “sweets person,” these pancakes were some of the best I’ve ever had.

Here’s what it was like.

When I got to Flipper’s at 11 a.m., there was a line out the door.

Ian BurkeThe line outside of Flipper’s in SoHo.

Even though I went to Flipper’s on a Tuesday morning, the wait was still over an hour. The line was filled with tourists, teens looking to ‘gram the fluffy pancakes, and one man who lived around the corner and wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

The decor is light, bright, and fun. The many neon signs in the restaurant seemed to scream “Instagram this!”

Ian BurkeThe waiting area at Flipper’s.

The first floor of the two-story restaurant acts as a waiting area, as well as a grab-and-go café. When I arrived I was the only person on the bottom floor, except for two hosts.

I stood in the waiting area for about 10 minutes before being seated.

Ian BurkeMe at Flipper’s.

The host was friendly and polite, and didn’t blink when I told her that I was dining alone.

As you walk up the stairs to the dining room, the first thing you see is the semi-open kitchen.

Ian BurkeThe semi-open kitchen at Flipper’s.

The sweet smell of batter hits you as soon as you walk onto the second floor.

The large window allows diners to see a little of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Ian BurkeA cook works on some pancakes.

The pancakes pictured above aren’t the soufflé pancakes, which the restaurant is famous for, but rather Flipper’s “sweet pancakes” – which are flat and more traditional.

The dining room at Flipper’s SoHo location is naturally lit from two large skylights and large windows that line the corner restaurant.

Ian BurkeThe dining room at Flipper’s.

The dining room’s walls were lined with plants, lights, and small tables. The centre of the room featured a large communal table, where diners eat family-style. I noticed that many customers were also dining alone.

After I was seated, I was given a drinks menu, a food menu, and a specialty menu.

Ian BurkeThe food and drinks menu at Flipper’s.

The restaurant serves their famous pancakes in a variety of ways, ranging from strawberry banana pancakes ($US19) and blueberry cream cheese pancakes ($US18) to matcha pancakes ($US19) and lemon ricotta pancakes ($US17).

In addition to pancakes, Flipper’s also serves eggs, chicken and waffles, boba drinks, and coffee.

As Instagram-friendly restaurants go, the menu at Flipper’s is reasonably priced, with drinks ranging from $US5-$US7, sides from $US3-$US10, and mains from $US16-$US19.

Ian BurkeThe specialty menu at Flipper’s.

The waitstaff was very attentive, and I watched several servers take the time to pore over the menu with first-time customers who didn’t know where to start.

I started out with a hot coffee, which was given to me in a yellow cup that matched the restaurant’s bright aesthetic.

Ian BurkeA coffee from Flipper’s.

The coffee didn’t blow me away, but it was solid. After all, it’s not a coffee shop.

The water glasses, however, were incredibly light and seemed to match the easygoing vibe that the restaurant was going for. I actually had to tap the glass with my nail to confirm that it wasn’t lightweight plastic.

My server told me that I’d have to wait an hour for the famous pancakes, since the kitchen was backed up. She recommended that I get a side of bacon while I wait.

Ian BurkeBacon ($US3) at Flipper’s.

The side of bacon was very good. The bacon itself was crispy, and tasted kind of like a BLT thanks to the cherry tomatoes and sliced radish that was hidden underneath.

After an hour, my Flipper’s pancakes arrived ($US16), along with my strawberry green tea boba drink ($US6.25).

Ian BurkeMy full meal at Flipper’s.

My drink and meal arrived at the same time, with a different waiter bringing each plate out simultaneously. For a small Instagram-friendly restaurant, I was impressed.

The pancakes looked exactly as advertised — neatly stacked, fluffy, and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Ian BurkeThe Flipper’s pancakes.

A sweet dollop of “original maple butter cream” sat on top of the stack of jiggly pancakes, along with a mint leaf garnish.

While many foods that go viral on social media tend to look less impressive in real life, my pancakes were nearly identical to Flipper’s promotional image.

Ian Burke / Flipper’sFlipper’s promotional image (left) versus my pancakes (right).

Although the Instagram post of the pancakes might have had some editing and better lighting, it was a good representation of what the dish looks like in real life.

The pancakes take a while to make, due to the careful cooking process.

Ian BurkeA boy and his pancakes.

A server told me that the batter is poured into a circular mould, then slowly cooked for a few minutes one each side so that the pancake has time to rise.

The menu also came with instructions on the “correct” way to eat the famous pancakes.

Ian BurkeThe eating instructions for the pancakes.

Since the pancakes are so fluffy and soft, the restaurant suggests using two forks to pull them apart instead of cutting them with a knife.

The pancakes were large, but not so large that I wasn’t able to finish them.

Ian BurkeThe pancakes next to my hand, for a size comparison.

At first, I was nervous that the pancakes would prove to be too heavy to finish.

To my surprise, the pancakes lived up to the hype — they were just as fluffy and light as the internet told me they would be.

Ian BurkeThe inside of the pancake.

The pancakes pulled apart effortlessly, and were cooked perfectly all the way through. They tasted sweet and eggy, but the maple-infused whipped cream was the star of the show. The rich and buttery cream demanded to be slathered all over the three fluffy pancakes, and I happily obliged.

I dug in and scarfed the whole plate down in under a minute.

Ian BurkeDigging into some pancakes.

I took my first bite as the beginning of the third stanza of Pink Floyd’s “Time” played over the restaurant’s sound system, and was done before David Gilmour could sing “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way” (so, roughly 50 seconds.)

The pancakes were good, but I couldn’t finish all of the maple butter cream.

Ian BurkeI’m a member of the Clean Plate Club.

The soufflé pancakes were certainly some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had – although they felt more like a snack than a meal.

And having the sweet boba tea at the same time might have been a mistake on my part, as it felt like a sugar overload.

All in all, Flipper’s is definitely worth the trip.

Ian BurkeEven the bathroom was light and fun.

Unfortunately, eating at Flipper’s took a while – even when the restaurant wasn’t crowded. I watched many diners’ jaws drop when the waitstaff politely informed them that their pancakes would take 45 minutes to an hour.

But if you don’t mind waiting a while, Flipper’s is definitely worth a visit – the pancakes were delicious, the ambience was light and inviting, and the service was excellent.

Ian’s rating: 3.5/5

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