Open House

A Northern Chinese snack mecca

Not every international house of pancakes is an IHOP.

There's no double stack of Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity cakes at House of Pancakes, which opened on Taraval late last month.

Built more along the lines of Dumpling Empire, HoP specializes in Northern Chinese xiaochi, or "little eats": dumplings, noodles and the largest selection of savory pancakes we've seen in San Francisco.

There are giant, flat pork xianbing pancakes ($7), a specialty of Shanxi Province, with a papery, pan-browned exterior and several interior layers of ground meat and dough. The Hardy to its Laurel, the "house special" sesame pancake ($5), is fluffy and covered in toasted seeds, albeit greasy.

While you should stray from the pancake section of the menu with garlicky spinach ($7) and some of the juiciest lamb-and-Chinese-vegetable dumplings ($8) in the city, you can't skip the onion pancake with egg ($6). Filled with a fluffy layer of scrambled eggs, heaps of chives and a soy-hoisin sauce, it's flaky, none too oily and gently sweet.

It's good for lunch, dinner or even breakfast.