Beard Papa cream puffs - Hollywood, CA
Americans are a donut eating people. We Japanese don't donut. Wouldn't give a rat's patootey if Krispy Kreme opened in Tokyo. We are a "choux cream" eating people. Today, a Beard Papa opened in Hollywood's massive Kodak Theater shopping-tainment megaplex. It's Japan's largest chain of cream puff bakery cafe, and people lose their minds and and queue up when a new one opens in Japan. This is their first California location, with others soon to follow in the South Bay area and possibly Santa Monica.
The staff started baking at 2am for today's 10am grand opening. According to someone on Chowhound who was there, a line of anxious (mostly Japanese) people waited an hour for the first taste. This intrepid reporter showed up at 7:30pm, well after the lines subsided.
Baked choux pastry prior to filling
Cream puff selection
Directly across from the El Capitan theater on Hollywood Blvd.
These treats are heavy for their moderate size because they're overfilled with a soft, almost runny vanilla custard. The choux pastry is baked to a firm, crisp texture with very little sweetness. It's a crispy vehicle for carrying the pudding like filling. Although they claim to use lavish amounts of vanilla beans, the vanilla flavor was mellow, and balanced nicely with egg yolk and a very restrained amount of sugar. It's Japanese subtlety at its best.
If Americans think of cream puffs at all, it's in the pejorative, sissified sense. That's because most American bakeries make lousy cream puffs filled with a stiff overstarched pastry cream, or worse, a butter cream. These don't weep moisture into the choux puff, but they don't taste good, either. They do that because their cream puffs sit around for hours until someone buys them, and they weren't ever good to start with.
Beard Papa, on the other hand, just makes cream puffs so they're always fresh. They can use wetter, gooey, luscious cream fillings. For today's opening, the basic vanilla filling is all they offered. I can't wait to try the other fillings like sesame and green tea!
The sum of Beard Papa's cream puff is greater than its mild components. It's a perfect contrast of crisp shell and creamy filling, with just enough powdered sugar to remind you these are decadent treats. Left unsupervised with a pot of coffee, I could easily scarf a box of six by myself, and I guarantee my ass would grow a size larger by next week. Ah - there's the American in me!
Beard Papa, for your next location, please give us a drive though window. If there's anything you can learn from Krisy Kreme, it's that we Americans love our drive-thrus!
6801 Hollywood Blvd