Take a hot plate, eggs, milk and flour, maybe a splash of sugar or sprinkle of cheese, and you have yourself a basic French crepe. Go to any trendy Tokyo street however, and clutched in the immaculately manicured hands of any young fashionista, you’ll find another beast entirely.
Unlike their European predecessors, Japanese style crepes are filled with cold fillings, rolled up into cone shapes, and eaten like ice-cream, usually from super cute wrapping. Along Takeshita Dori in Harajuku, fancy crepes are the fuel of choice for hungry cosplayers and gothic Lolitas, fulfilling the vital criteria of being cheap street food, and perhaps most importantly, easy to eat delicately whilst maintaining one’s kawaii factor.
If a French crepe is a simple dish best enjoyed with simple fillings that gently titillate the palate, Japanese crepes are a full exotic party for the senses. Typical fillings can include entire slices of cheese cake, syrup, cream and fruit, or hamburgers, pizza sauce, cheese and salad. Aside from Takeshita Dori outlets, chains such as Mother’s Crepe and Crazy Crepe serve almost instant made to order crepes, but if you’re really desperate, you can even find them in vending machines or convenience stores.
Purists may scoff that for a true Japanese pancake experience, you really need to try okonomiyaki, a cabbage and batter mix topped with nori, sauce and benito flakes, but there’s perhaps no snack that better epitomises the nonchalance and fun loving attitude of Tokyo youth culture than a rolled cone of tiramisu filled, custard coated or teriyaki sauce soaked batter, funkily wrapped up and ready to go.