Fun. This is the main reason why we’ve always wanted to try Slappy Cakes since it opened in 2013. We’ve know from the start that it’s all about choice — choosing the pancake batter, choosing the toppings, choosing how big the pancake is, and choosing how cooked the pancake would be. Of course, it would been more fun if we’ve chosen to visit the very first Slappy Cakes store in the Philippines, the one found in Eastwood City. Still, as they say, good things come to those who wait.
It’s tempting to delve into the origins of pancakes or hotcakes, but such a culinary journey requires a lot of research, time that we’d rather spend actually eating pancakes. Regardless of the origins of pancakes, we’re pretty much certain that Slappy Cakes started in Portland, Oregon. That’s around 2009. Guess where they opened the second branch? No, not the Philippines. The second branch opened in Tokyo, Japan. The Philippines played host to the third branch.
Slappy Cakes (or pancakes for that matter), as we all know, is not Filipino in origin. But Filipinos love pancakes, called “hotcake” in many quarters (just like football and soccer, eh?). The phrase “selling like hotcakes,” as a metaphor and in its real sense, holds true in this country. Really, who doesn’t love pancakes?
It just so happened that we don’t frequent Eastwood City. And it’s not because we don’t like this place. It’s a matter of preference. We simply prefer the open spaces. Or, when it comes to restaurants, we prefer the park-in-front-and-go-in type. We’re not going to visit the mall unless there’s a special reason. That special reason, for that weekend, happened to be the Slappy Cakes.
The visit to Slappy Cakes is not for us adults. A visit to a place which specializes in pancakes, and the fun of cooking the pancakes yourselves, could only cater to kids. That’s what we thought. Then we saw a table for two ladies, with two best buddies happily sharing stories while flipping pancakes, and we realized that the crowd which visit Slappy Cakes is not limited to kids and families, but to all kids-at-heart.
Come to think of it, the scene evokes memories of distant past (yes, yes, it’s true that you tend to reminisce a lot as you get older). Breakfast and all the siblings woke up with a smile. It’s not one of those usual mornings when parents have to pry the young ones’ sleepy eyes wide open with threats of something. All it takes is for mother to announce, right before bedtime, that she will cook pancakes for breakfast.
True enough, even before mother wakes up, the kids are up in arms, knocking on their door and attacking their bed, waking them up with the shrieks of “pancakes!!!!!” The fun part of having pancakes for breakfast, and this might come as a surprise to many, is not the eating part. The fun part is the short span of time between the pan and the table. “Mama, can I have a little round pancake?” “Mama, can I have a pancake with two round ears?” You make your request. You hold on to your fork, with a smile that stretches from ear to ear, while mother gets busy in front of the stove. The moment she lifts the spatula and walks towards the breakfast table, it’s like waiting for the lotto results, which one gets served first. Unadulterated family bonding with pancakes.
Going to Slappy Cakes for the first time is a combination of reliving the past, exploring how pancakes are cooked in this restaurant, and showing the kids that their parents know how to flip pancakes. Parents are heroes in the eyes of their kids because, aside from serving as the source of allowance, parents know how to do a lot of cool stuff. Like flipping pancakes (no pressure to parents who don’t know how to flip pancakes — try doing it at home before heading to Slappy Cakes).
Don’t expect the restaurant to be quiet. Even if there’s an endless supply spatulas so kids won’t fight over who gets to cook first, kids will be kids (and moms will be moms).
And there’s a lot of choices to make. First is the choice of batter, the main pancake mixture that you throw in the pan. We chose the classic buttermilk and, as a pretense along the lines of the health-conscious movement, the whole grain batter. Perhaps we’ll try the peanut butter and chocolate batter next time, but we don’t see trying the vegan batter anytime soon.
Next in the menu of choices is the toppings. Fixins, as Slappy Cakes would call them — chocolate chops, mangoes, bananas, raisins and blueberries. Traditional pancake toppings. We were quite surprised with two more, the coconut and apple toppings. We have not encountered pancakes with those toppings.
And soon we discovered why Slappy Cakes call them “fixins” — there’s a separate choice for “toppings”. Honey, creamy peanut butter, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, maple syrup. lemon curd and spring onion creme fraiche. We stuck with the tried and tested “toppings”, or what we mortals call “sauce”, and that would be maple syrup and chocolate sauce. We’re adventurous, yes, but we’d rather not try something that we can’t hardly pronounce, like the spring onion creme fraiche.
If you’re in an adventurous mood, you may also want to try the “savory” toppings: bacon, sausage, chorizos, smoked ham, cheddar cheese, salted duck egg assorted mushrooms, spring onions, and white cheese. Again, we avoided the “savory” toppings. We wanted to eat something substantial for dinner, so we ordered full meals in the menu: beef tapa, daing na bangus, buffalo wings and spaghetti.
We all can cook pancakes at home, no doubt about that. But when kids, with those cute big smiles, blurt out “let’s go back!,” there’s definitely something that Slappy Cakes has done right. It may be the fun. It may be something else; we’re not sure (maybe you can tell us?). What we’re sure, however, is the certainty that we’ll be back.