U2 Cafe: Hong Kong Style Pancake

Eye Candy: 3/5 Stars
Smelloscope: 4/5 Stars
Taste Test: 4/5 Stars
Wallet Breaking: $
Recommend-ability: 3/5 - Give it a Go

It's been a little while since I've been back to U2 Cafe. This used to be one of my favorites. But since I was so disgusted by my last experience I stopped going there on a regular basis. The quality of their food just went way down. A huge part of it is simply an inconsistency, and my experience with their Hong Kong Style Pancake today was the case and point.

(Bad Batch of Hong Kong Style Pancake - $3.75)
I had dinner with my parents, my brother and my sister-in-law today. My brother got there early so he went ahead and ordered the Hong Kong Style Pancake. I arrived around five minutes after my brother ordered the dish and we discussed what else we should order. The process took another ten minutes or so. After we finished ordering, it took another five minutes or so for the pancake to arrive. It didn't look appetizing. It was a bit darker than usual and I've had U2's version before to know this is not normal for them.

I took a piece to try and it was a bit on the crunchy side and cold. My brother and my sister-in-law both took a piece to try and had the same reaction and were not pleased. So I asked the waiter to take it back and make us another batch. We've tried a few other places like Cafe Spot and we know U2 has the version we prefer the most and this was not it.

The waiter was kind enough to take it back and make us a new version. This new version didn't take long to reach our table, approximately five minutes. Which made me wonder why it took so long for the first batch to get to our table. It made perfect sense. They over-cooked it which meant it took longer than usual. Then they left it on the counter for it to chill before taking it to our table, which was why it took nearly twenty minutes after ordering for it to get to us.

(U2 Cafe Menu)
This second batch was totally worth the $3.75. This is my favorite snack as a boy, and I'm partly eating my childhood nostalgia. It's similar in texture as a waffle except it's slightly crunchier on the outside and softer and less thick on the inside when done right. The individual eggs should break off easily and the inside should be slightly warm.

As soon as the waiter placed the basket on our table, I knew instantly this was warmer and better. I could smell the fresh cooked dough drifting upwards into my nose. The color was much lighter than the first batch and looked softer as it should be. My brother and my sister-in-law wanted to just rip a piece right off, but I had to grab a picture of it before they could consume it.

(Hong Kong Style Pancake - $3.75)
This was the way it was supposed to be. It's slightly crunchy on the outside while the inside is moist, warm, soft and a bit hollow. The dough is slightly sweetened, but the whole thing is light enough to have as appetizer without having my appetite ruined.

There are no sauce to dip the pancakes in. They were originally served on the streets of Hong Kong by street vendors in small paper bags. Since the dough is slightly sweet, it can be treated as a dessert. But to me it has always been an appetizer. The Chinese name for it literally translate to "little eggs." The little sphere-like pieces are attached to each other by a very thin and crunchy paper made with the same dough. There's a little bit of flakiness like in a Chinese egg roll dessert from the thin crust. The combination between crunchiness and softness rounds out the dessert to appeal to my entire texture palette of my taste buds.

$3.75 is a lot more than what they used to go for on the streets of Hong Kong, and certainly way more than the cost of the ingredients. Even as a snack, it actually isn't a cheap snack compared to some of the other things I can get in the area. But a good version of it isn't easy to find even in the San Gabriel Valley. In fact not every cafe even serves this. Even at U2, it wasn't until we asked them to remake it when we actually got a good version of the relatively unknown snack that satisfied my cravings. If it wasn't for this, I honestly don't know if I would ever go back to U2 Cafe again after the horrible curry fish ball with pork skin I had two months back. Consistency please!

U2 Cafe
1200 E Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 282-1800

Hong Kong Style Pancake - $3.75