Food review: Raijin Palm Beach

2/5th Ave Palm Beach

Named after Raijin, one of the most feared and respected Japanese deities, the master of lightning and storm, the café Raijin was born in the Covid storm.

Its owner, Fuji, who had trained as a chef in both Australia and Japan, operated a market stall at festivals across Australia. Woodford, Blues, Splendour in the Grass… he catered for crowds from Byron to Perth until Covid led to events being cancelled, and Fuji’s work dried up.

Deciding to settle and open a restaurant in his local area, Fuji decided to open a Japanese café that was complementary to next door Cafoo Izakaya, the central item on his menu being Japanese souffle pancakes.

There’s something hypnotic about souffle pancakes. They defy physics, they’re theatrical, a bit jiggly, almost (dare I say it) sexual.

Having tried these pancakes twice before, including in Hawaii some years ago, Fuji’s version is the best tasting of all. With the egg whites whipped separately and folded into the mix, the pancakes are airy and cloudlike, dissolving in the mouth to foam.

Fuji’s use of mochi rice flour and brown rice powder make his pancakes super light and feathery rather than eggy. Not too sweet, the mild vanilla-tasting pancakes leave the flavour bomb to the topping. Our tiramisu pancake, complete with cream, strawberries, mascarpone and an affogato that demands interactive pouring over the pancakes, completes a sensational dessert.

Effortless to eat, Fuji tells us that his souffle pancakes took a lot of persistence to perfect. Not only do they take twenty minutes to cook over a slow heat, but they’re notoriously temperamental as well.

“It took me about two months and four hundred attempts to get them right,” Fuji says. “They are very delicate, and every day they are different. A change in the atmosphere, the condition of the eggs, the temperature, a slight change of heat in the pan… these all affect the pancake, how well it rises and sustains itself,” he says.

Raijin has four versions of souffle pancakes: Original with maple syrup and berries or Tiramisu with mascarpone and espresso for the sweet tooths. Savoury versions include the Super Feed and Carbonara with bacon, mushrooms and parmesan.

As attention-seeking as they are, don’t stop at pancakes. Three other sections round out the menu: Mochi Crêpes, Rice and Noodle dishes.

His Mochi Crepes are gluten-free, the mochi rice flour crêpes soft with a crisp edge. Served with a smoked salmon and sour cream topping, loads of greens, seeds, capers and slivered almonds, this is a delicious fresh and healthy meal, well worth a return trip.

Raijin serves the excellent Seven Miles Coffee as well as Proud Mary Coffee, ten different teas, freshly squeezed juices, milkshakes, iced batch brew coffee and matcha lattes to accompany your meal. There are specials in the cake cabinet, Chocolate gateau and NYC cheesecake when we visited, both decadently rich.

Japanese chefs have always given creative spins to dishes from other cultures. So, it’s no surprise that Fuji brings his own take to souffle pancakes. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.

NOTE: Blank dined as a guest of Raijin. Follow Marj @foodgoldcoast

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