One of the strategies employed by business is to locate your establishment as close as possible to the opposition. So, when Raijin opened right beside the esteemed Cafoo Izakaya, eyebrows may have been raised… that is until Raijin’s menu was revealed and media waves were filled with wonder and delight.
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, Fujimori Taketo, 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, when a venue became available in the gorgeous tree-lined Fifth Avenue, Fuji says that out of respect for Cafoo’s owners he decided to open a Japanese café that was complementary to Cafoo rather than a Japanese restaurant in competition with it.
Central to Raijin’s menu are Japanese soufflé pancakes.
On one trip to Japan about five years ago Fuji saw a queue of people extending outside a Tokyo shop and down the street. It was his first glimpse of Japanese soufflé pancakes, made particularly famous by Café Gram; pancakes which have fascinated him ever since.
There’s something hypnotic about soufflé 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 (see photo above), 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 to foam in the mouth.
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 soufflé 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 soufflé 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 Raijin’s menu: Mochi Crêpes, Rice and Noodle dishes.
Our Mochi Crêpes 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 soufflé pancakes. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next.
With plans to expand into evening trade and gain an alcohol license, Raijin’s casual Japanese take on classic dishes is a great addition to the Palm Beach dining scene.
Raijin Palm Beach, 2/5th Ave Palm Beach 4221 QLD
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Raijin.