The legendary pancake guy is retiring

2024 will be his last year

The only English and Danish the pancake guy speaks is “cash only”, “chili no chili?”, “50 krona”, “7 euro”.

“Find the pancake guy” has been a hobby for many Copenhageners the last few years.

Sadly, this year will be the last. If you are one of the lucky ones who had successfully found and ate one of his pancakes, I don’t need to explain it to you.

If you haven’t, this is a brief tale of the pancake guy and his pancakes.

First thing first. The pancake is the traditional pancake (jianbing) from the northern Chinese city Tianjin, my hometown.

It’s a savory pancake that people from Tianjin eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, afternoon snack and post drinking snack. The batter is mostly made of mung bean flour and wheat flour, with one or two eggs on top.

The pancake is served with fried dough inside, brushed with sauces and sprinkled with spring onion.

Loved jianbing

When I was a child in the 1980s Tianjin, all the kids loved the jianbing. Most kids only got to eat it when it was their birthday or lunar new year or end of a school year or something special.

This was a couple of years after the economic reform of 1978, so some very few kids would be able to afford jianbing more often, typically kids of business owners.

As fresh eggs and ration stamps for flour were limited commodity in the 80s, these rich kids would buy ration stamps and eggs at the jianbing vendor for an inflated price.

All the other kids were of course envious and constantly plotted to obtain more jianbing for themselves.

Pancake as reward

I owe my entire writing career to these pancakes. When I received my first cheque as a writer as an eight year old, my father told me that every time I get a cheque for a published essay, short story or something else, he will give me a ration stamp and an egg, so I can have a pancake as reward.

I soon became a productive young writer. As a publisher, my father was always great at identifying weaknesses within writers and exploiting them shamelessly.

All over China they make their own version of the jianbing, but as soon as you leave Tianjin, the jianbing changes.

I have never tasted the original Tianjin jianbing outside of Tianjin, until the pancake guy in Copenhagen popped up.

He worked as a chef in many restaurants over the years but felt like having a more flexible job. Since he’s from Tianjin and proud of our pancake it was an obvious choice for him.

Where to find the pancake guy

It’s understandable that people try to take an easy way out, and replace fried dough with fried wonton wrapping, and leave out mung bean flour, skip the two kinds of homemade sauces. But I’m glad that our guy in Copenhagen take the uphill struggle.

The best places to find him is in inner city near tourist attractions or the area behind central station with all the Asian shops.

He only comes out when it’s not too cold or too hot and when it doesn’t rain. He comes out around noon or a few hours later.

Pancake guy makes his own fried dough after breakfast and comes out after his lunch, and he doesn’t like to rush. This is the Tianjin way.

Stop crying over pancake guy

I talked to him few weeks ago and he told me that 2024 will be his last year as pancake guy.

He said I’m sure you understand because you writers are so understanding. I don’t, and I’m not.

But when I spoke to my father recently, he said stop crying and assured me that the pancake guy in our old neighborhood in Tianjin is still in business and I can just take a plane, bullet train and taxi if I feel like a pancake.

Go find the guy before the weather gets too hot. The only English and Danish the pancake guy speaks is “cash only”, “chili no chili?”, “50 krona”, “7 euro”.

Since there are other vendors in Copenhagen selling jianbing, here is a photo of him.