Experiencing Japanese Crepes at T-Swirl
Amid the busy stores packing the streets of Chinatown, one window always stands out. With a display of brightly colored crêpes in glass cloches, T-Swirl Crêpe always draws me in. In keeping with its floral presentation, crêpes are presented surrounded by a cone of cardboard, shaping them to resemble a bouquet. Inside the dimly-lit restaurant, loud pop music mixes with the sound of blenders as maneki-neko, Japanese lucky cats, beckon languidly at canvas prints of skylines. In terms of decorating, the inside of T-Swirl is a bit of a mishmash. The dishes, made with a careful precision, are anything but.
Offering sweet and savory crêpes in over 20 flavors, T-Swirl is sure to please any palate. The two crêpes I tried, the T-Swirl BLT and the Matcha Chocolate Truffle, proved that T-Swirl has mastered the creation of perfectly balanced dishes. My first bite of the T-Swirl BLT delivered fresh lettuce, avocado, and bacon. Thickly-sliced, the bacon was more chewy than crunchy. That texture was quickly countered by the crispiness of the crêpe. While the tamer ingredients like the lettuce, avocado, and tomato could have made for a somewhat bland dish, the drizzle of Chipotle aioli added an exciting kick to every bite. To someone who doesn’t like a lot of spice, the level of heat the aioli provided was perfect.
I was full after the T-Swirl BLT, but there’s no such thing as being too full for dessert, so I ordered the Matcha Chocolate Truffle. Presented similarly to the first crêpe, the bright red of the strawberries and light green of the matcha custard cream made the crêpe look almost too good to eat. Almost. Between the sourness of the strawberries, the sweetness of the chocolate, and the tang of the yogurt, every bite of the crêpe was delicious, not to mention diverse in terms of taste and texture.
The secret is the way T-Swirl makes its crêpes. Rather than using wheat flour, the traditional ingredient of French crêpes, T-Swirl produces delicate, naturally gluten-free crêpes with rice flour. Since the batter is the same for every crêpe, it is already prepared when customers arrive. A plastic barrier in front of the kitchen allows customers to watch their crêpes being made. This experience combined with the absolutely amazing dishes makes T-Swirl a necessary destination for anyone venturing into Chinatown.