Gram Cafe and Pancakes, a popular Japanese soufflé chain with outlets in countries like Hong Kong and Canada, opened its second United States branch in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County last week.
The Japanese chain first opened its L.A. branch on April 8 at the Atlantic Times Square plaza in Monterey Park. Gram Cafe and Pancakes reportedly took over the 1,600-square-foot space previously rented by Ten Ren’s Tea Time.
The L.A. branch is the second outlet pâtissier Dorothy Wong and her business partner Eason Chen have opened in the U.S., with San Francisco serving as their first on April 1, 2019.
Wong reportedly spent two years flying to and from Japan to train and learn more about soufflé before she secured a franchise license in California from Gram Cafe and Pancakes, which has over 60 outlets in countries like Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia and Thailand.
Wong told ABC7 News in 2019 that she fell in love with the dessert when she first tasted it in Osaka sometime around 2016 and decided she wanted to bring it home.
In a statement to Eater Los Angeles, Wong noted that the Monterey Park outlet would only serve a limited menu compared to its first branch in San Francisco. However, Wong added that patrons could expect L.A. branch-exclusive menus in the future.
Our SF store actually has a lot of flavors that are not available on the international menus. I came up with about 70 percent of the menu. You can expect seasonal soufflé pancake flavors to rotate in and out. There’s currently a durian as well as a hazelnut flavor.
The L.A. branch also will not be serving alcoholic drinks for now, but it will offer coffees made from beans from San Francisco roaster Sightglass, the report noted.
When asked why she decided to open the San Francisco branch in 2019, Wong told ABC7 News that it was the city’s diversity.
“I just feel like Japanese food, or anything from Japan is about quality and delicacy,” she said. “So everyone is going to love it.”
The chain is not the first restaurant to offer a Japanese-style soufflé in California, but it is one of the most well-known brands to open shop in L.A.
As for how the jiggly treat is made, Wong explained that the process involves up to 24 hours of consistent whisking of white eggs, adding extra air into the soufflé before it’s slowly cooked in a low heat setting.
After preparing the batter, it takes pâtissiers 30 minutes — one hour on weekends — to make the dessert.
“We use a special griddle that takes up much of the kitchen,” Takeshi Takata, the Japanese chain’s founder who flew to the United States from Japan to oversee the opening, told Eater L.A. “It ensures that it is the same temperature throughout to evenly cook each pancake. You’ll never have a bite that is cold or not cooked the same as the rest of the pancake.”
After that, servers must be efficient at balancing while running when delivering the plate to the customers.
Just like the preparation process, customers also have to put in extra effort to enjoy the Japanese-style soufflé as they only reportedly have five to 10 seconds to start consuming the dessert before it begins to deflate.