Why you should care
They’re stupidly good. And adorable.
When it comes to sugary concoctions, most of us like to gobble them down as quickly as possible, but when your sweet treat looks back at you, well, that might give you pause before biting into it. But for only a moment. Because once you’ve tried the treats with a face at one San Francisco eatery — crepes topped with cute animal faces — you’ll be unlikely to give your chomping a second thought.
Animal faces are the calling card of Belly Good Crepes: Its popular Happy Face Crepes are served with cream and fruit and topped with an edible animal mug. Owner and crepe master Shinji Kakimoto creates the different designs using colored cookies made from leftover crepe “skin” (definitely not as icky as it sounds). Each crepe is a new artwork: Kakimoto considers the way the chosen toppings and fillings — like cornflakes, coconut and Nutella — look together and then lets his inspiration guide him. First he precisely places a dollop of ice cream on the crepe. He then uses a cookie to construct an animal face with eyes, a nose and a smile. The range is vast: Think snub-nosed bears, squawking birds (with beaks made out of whipped cream), wise owls and panda bears — complete with tiny pretzel-stick arms. Expressions vary from inquisitive to downright cheeky. During the holiday season, you might receive a tiny Santa’s hat atop your critter.
It’s like eating breakfast and dessert combined, with a side of coffee.
When the store opened 11 years ago in the city’s Japan Center, the crepes were served regular style, minus the funny faces. When Kakimoto created animal designs for a child’s party, which proved to be popular — with adults as well as kids — they became a staple of his store. The crepes are served in two styles: flat on a plate and twisted up, ice-cream cone style for consuming on the go — popular in Japan. Prices start at $5.50, with extra charges for toppings. But the smiley face is always free. My go-to choice? Cornflakes mixed with chocolate syrup and espresso ice cream. It’s like eating breakfast and dessert combined, with a side of coffee!
From start to finish, the preparation takes less than five minutes. But there are often long lines, which means you’re sometimes going to have to wait for your adorable snack. The wait times might deter diners from indulging too often — which might not be such a bad thing. Crepes are not exactly healthy meal choices. Nutritionist Lisa DeFazio warns that those prepared at restaurants will be “higher in fat and fried,” compared with the homemade version. She suggests opting for healthier filling choices like fruit and lean meat and staying away from chocolate and whipped cream; they’re highest in fat. Belly Good Crepes does offer some lower-fat versions — its plain yogurt and pineapple combo will make you feel saintly. And hey, a little bit of something good won’t kill you, right? And life without sweetness is no life at all.
Pro tip: Happy Face Crepes are Instagram gold.