This goes a ways back, but you might remember the famous “Pancake Lady” of Chinatown. She’d sit at her stand at Mosco and Mott all day long making those little, hot cakes, tray after tray, and fans lined up for them. Sure, there are a bunch of ladies making the same cakes from roll-away carts around Chinatown now, but it’s not the same. No one can ever replace Pancake Lady… except maybe “Walnut Cake Guy.” The only problem is that you’re gonna need a car to try these walnut cakes, because the Walnut Cake Guy works way at the back of Super HMart in Ridgefield, NJ. As you may know, I’ve been going to Hmart regularly for a while now, but somehow I’ve never noticed this cooking area hidden near the food court. If you’re wondering why the plastic container is fogged over, it’s because the cakes were made so fresh, they were literally steaming hot. The best part of course is watching the Walnut Cake Guy in action, so here’s how it goes:
First he pours in some of the pancake batter, which is pretty much exactly like the stuff that the Pancake Lady used. Then he places a walnut in each one.
Next comes the bean paste. I don’t know exactly what it is, and it looks chocolate-y, but it’s definitely more bean-y, sort of like the Taiyaki filling for those cakes at Mitsuwa.
He uses a cute, old tea pot to pour more batter over the top.
Then he very quickly closes up the grill pan. Here you see two of them closed and cooking on the hot plate below. These things are really old, and that’s part of the charm.
And here you go, a tray of walnut cakes. He cuts them up with scissors, and if you’re really lucky and standing there with two cute Korean girls, you might even get some free samples like we did. I dropped mine by accident, and he gave me another free one! The Walnut Cake Guy doesn’t speak a word of English, but again, if you’re a cute Korean girl, he’s gonna try his best to get to know you. Eating them hot off the grill was a real pleasure, and I’m already looking forward to going back again.