The Best Hongdae Restaurants You’ve Never Heard Of features Hongdae restaurants not typically found on Anglophone reviews and blogs. We started off with Dalgona, an unassuming little Italian trattoria with a big heart. Next on our list is Publican Bites, a Hongdae restaurant that serves Dutch baby pancakes and fries loaded with delectable toppings.
Before I begin, I should clarify that Dutch baby pancakes are not actually Dutch, just like French fries aren’t actually French. I learned that the hard way when I proudly described my “new” cultural experience to an acquaintance from the Netherlands and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.
The name for the Dutch baby supposedly originated in the early 1900s at a family-run restaurant in Seattle, Washington. The restaurant’s owner, Victor Manca, created a dish derived from German pancakes using eggs, flour, sugar and milk. Story has it that the dish became known as the “Dutch baby” because one of Manca’s daughters couldn’t pronounce “Deutsch,” and the name stuck. But enough with the etymology lesson, the important point is this—Dutch baby pancakes are damn delicious, and you need to give them a try.
For the main dish, Publican Bites offers you five different toppings—braised pork, raccio classico (eggs, bacon, and garlic confit), melted cheese, tikka masala, or shrimp cream—which you can then choose to have on either a Dutch baby pancake or fries.
If you’ve never had a Dutch baby pancake before, don’t even think. Order it. The texture is the best part—it’s crisp on the outside but tender and “custardy” on the inside, giving it a very airy feel that still ends up being filling. The Raccio Classico also had a bit of soup in it that goes very well with the crisp exterior. I didn’t care too much for the braised pork, which came in a tomato sauce, but that might partly have to do with the fact that I got it with fries. Not that the fries are bad, but the Dutch baby is just superior in terms of texture and flavor.
Publican Bites also provides desserts on the Dutch baby pancakes—you can choose from the berry custard, nut chocolate, or apple crumble. To be honest, I was already full after the main meal, but the dessert looked too good to pass up. Fortunately, it tastes as good as it looks.
I’m glad I got to try Dutch baby pancakes for the first time, but I’m a bit sad that they’re not actually Dutch. Just learn from my mistakes—As long as you don’t go around telling everyone you ate at a “Dutch” restaurant, you’ll be fine. Also, don’t make any jokes about paying Dutch with your date… that doesn’t go so well either.