WRAPPING: The beef rolls at Michelle's Pancake House. Photograph by Amy Buchanan
The “pancake” part of Michelle’s Pancake House in Cupertino might prove a little confusing for diners used to the fluffy, syrup-drenched variety served at IHOP. The pancakes at Michelle’s, which is actually a Chinese restaurant, are bite-size rounds with a paper-thin dough on the outside and a savory blend of meat, veggies and spices on the inside, all cooked on the griddle. The pancake menu also includes a thicker, fried variety of dough that loosely holds together several layers of meat and veggies, much like a wrap or a burrito.
The restaurant was lively on my visit; most of the tables were already filled, and it was only a Monday night. The kitchen is open and in plain sight, providing diners with a clear view of the cooks rolling pancake dough and preparing the noodles. Everything, the waitress told me, is made by hand, and no MSG is used. The food, she added, comes from northern China. Already on the table were a menu, a piece of paper and a pen to fill out your order. There were a couple sauces also, one with a prominent garlic flavor.
I ordered a plate of pork and chive pancakes, the round variety, which came to $7.95. There were eight on the plate. The dough was very thin, yet chewy. The pork and chive mixture inside was quite hot, with a meaty broth that burst into my mouth (and onto the table) when I pierced the thin skin. They were quite delicious and much more filling than their small size suggested.