[Seoul] Butterfinger Pancakes

One of the pioneers of the thriving brunch scene in Seoul, Butterfinger Pancakes is as popular amongst the American expat community as it is with Seoulites. It seems online reviewers of Butterfinger Pancakes are rather enamoured of the diner-style decor and all-day breakfast concept, and having visited this eatery twice I have to agree that it does a pretty good job of coming across as authentically American. English on the menu as well! Always a bonus.

Doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the signature dish here is. Apart from pancakes, there’s the usual breakfast fare like Eggs Benedict and omelettes. Pancake eaters are offered the option of choosing between 3 types of butter (original, honey vanilla, and a margarine-esque substitute for butter called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!”) and maple syrup/honey as toppings.

Split Decision Plate, 21,800 won.

Can’t decide between pancakes and French toast? Here at Buttermilk Pancakes, you don’t actually have to make a decision. Just order the Split Decision Plate and everyone at the table’s a happy camper. Apart from the pancakes and brioche French toast, this platter comes with bacon strips, a variety of sausages, seasoned potatoes and two eggs done scrambled/sunny side-up/overeasy. We ordered this back in 2011, and though we found the pancakes and meats passable it was the lightly sugared brioche toast and potatoes that merited praise. The toast was soft on the inside, crisp and soaked in eggy goodness on the outside, and went excellently with the maple syrup. The potatoes had been rubbed in a mixture of rosemary, thyme and sage and roasted to caramelized perfection.

Waffle Lover’s Special, 16,400 won.

Since we were missing waffles (and because breakfast waffles were a rarity in Singapore back then) we decided to go with the Waffle Lover’s Special for our other main.

Sadly there was nothing to love about these waffles, which were lukewarm and dense. Admittedly, they tasted okay after being slathered in “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” and maple syrup, so that’s one way to salvage them. Other components of this dish were the same as in the Split Decision Plate, save that the eggs here were scrambled. All were undeserving of special mention apart from the brilliant potatoes.

Butterfingers’ Frittata, 18,400 won.

Moving on to the dishes consumed in my most recent visit a couple months back. The Frittata was a new offering on their Spring/Summer ’13 menu, and can I just say that there is no feeling like shoving down spoonful after spoonful of scrambled eggs, mac & cheese, pepperoni, bacon and sour cream. The creamy and tangy deliciousness of the frittata was pure bliss in the so-good-it’s-bad-for-you way, but I made sure to eat those leafy “vitamins” (I’m just quoting the menu) you see in the background to negate the evil. Hey, one can always hope.

Pancakes on this visit were freakin’ a-may-zin. I’ve never been one for pancakes – waffles FTW – but these were even better than the ones I had at iHop in NYC, which I thought were great. They were soft, full of buttermilk goodness and, with the maple syrup, tasted like heaven in a fluffy disk.

The Giant Alligator, 29,800 won.

I honestly wouldn’t have returned to Butterfinger Pancakes if a friend hadn’t sent me a picture of this monstrosity. A rack of waffles held together with fresh cream, then served with four scoops of ice cream, four types of fruit compotes and two huge dollops of whipped cream – it’s visually stunning yet simple in execution. Can you imagine the number of people who would order this just to take a picture of it? I totally did. (As always, sorry friends.)

In the midst of my excitement for The Giant Alligator, I’d forgotten just how terrible the waffles here tasted. This dish was a looker and nothing else. The waffles were hard, bland, chewy… and ridiculously overpriced. 29,800 won is SGD35, FYI. Ice-cream was rich and velvety, particularly the green tea flavoured one, but I very much doubt it’s manufactured by them. Though I’d give their other desserts a chance if I return, I’m never ordering anything involving their waffles again. I guess there’s a reason why they’re called Butterfinger Pancakes and not Butterfinger Waffles.

Butterfinger Pancakes, Gangnam.

Breakfast dishes at Butterfinger Pancakes may set you back by an additional 5,000-6,000 won in comparison with say, dining at one of the cafes in the Hongdae or Edae areas, but it’s typical of brunch prices in the swanky Gangnam area. One thing to note: Prices increased by an average of 2,000 won within the span of the two years between my first and second visit. If I recall correctly, there’s a 10% tax on your bill as well, which is something I haven’t experienced at any other eatery in Seoul.

They do serve excellent pancakes in a very convenient location, which should be reason enough to pay at least one visit to this diner. Butterfinger Pancakes isn’t exactly something I crave, but I’m open to visiting again to check out the new offerings on their menu, which is revamped once every six months.

Butterfinger Pancakes (Gangnam branch)
88-9 Cheongdam-dong
Gangnam-gu, Seoul
(Address in Korean: 서울시 강남구 청담동 88-9번지)

Opening hours: 7.00a.m. to 3.00a.m. daily (Not a typo.)

Directions: Take Exit 10 out of Gangnam station (Line 2) and walk straight till you see The Body Shop. Turn left into the lane right next to Body Shop and keep going straight for about 2 minutes. Butterfinger Pancakes will be on your left.

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