Foodie Friday: Fish-Shaped Pancakes

Fish-shaped pancakes: traditionally known as taiyaki, and filled with sweet red bean paste

fish pancakes

I remember visiting night markets in Taiwan and getting these amazing pancakes. They come in all sorts of shapes, but different types of animals were the most popular ones. (In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I referenced it in my novel.)

In the United States, you can buy your own waffle maker–or pancake maker (see a Hello Kitty machine here). The fish-shaped pans can be bought at Japanese grocery stores, like Marukai. Why the popularity of fish? In Japan, fish can mean well-being; they can also symbolize fearlessness, since a koi can swim upstream against the current. In the Chinese culture, the words for “fish” and “abundance” are so similar that eventually fish became associated with wealth.

Back to the food, though. What’s better than finding a machine and making your own pancakes? Having someone else cook the treat for you. That’s why I found myself at Oko Cafe in Gardena, watching golden batter being poured into a pan.

Now I prefer my pancakes plain, but these were offered with the traditional red bean filling and some items more attuned to the American taste: chocolate, egg custard, and chocolate with bananas. Standing there, I was reminded of my previous night market experiences. I loved the dim surrounding, contrasted with the bustle of cooking and the crafting of food right before me. Enjoy the magic, too:



First TV Interview
Liebster Award


  1. How fun is that! Especially for children! I have never had pancakes in the same of animals, however, my roommate in college had a Hello Kitty toaster that would put Hello Kitty on our toast. So, for a year, I hate Hello Kitty’s face. lol.

    • jenniferjchow says

      I think I know someone who bought a Hello Kitty toaster, too. How funny! Of course, I have this waffle maker that makes waffle strips (you know, so you can dip them in syrup?), but I almost never pull it out of storage.


  1. […] are classic vanilla-flavored pancakes with a cream filling, a little bit like taiyaki. I think they taste even more delicious because of their cute animal […]

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