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Beard Papa Sweets Cafe


Jason Perlow
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http://www.muginoho.com/beard_papa/index.html

2167 Broadway (76th Street)

With over 240 Stores, Beard Papa is a Japanese pastry cafe chain that features pipin' hot pastry puffs filled "a la minute" with various types of custard creams.

The NY location opens on Friday, March 5.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I walked by there yesterday. They were still getting set up and you could see them training staff through the window.

The font used on the store front is hard to read. I wasn't sure if I read the name right until now.

Thank it will succeed?

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I won't be going south of 86th street tomorrow. Anyone in the neighborhood care to volunteer their taste buds for egullet?

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I'll be on 72nd Street today. In the interests of science, I will walk up and check out the place. It's a tough job, but for the betterment of the eGullet population I am willing to make the effort. :laugh:

Will report back this evening.

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"Beard papa's cream puffs consist of a two-layer shell. The inner shell is a choux pastry shell and the outer shell is a piecrust. It is this special-structured shell which makes bear papa's cream puffs so unique."

Suzanne, please pay attention to this aspect of them. I don't know how they'd bake the two together. :wacko:

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Whoa, you've got to see the (English) wording on the Korean Beard Papa site. And I quote, "pursues handmade, freshness and deliciousness, and paricular about the naterial and addition thing such as antiseptic never uses for health." (sic) Could someone please explain that sentence to me?

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Ha ha ha! It's funny how this happens every time a place like that opens on the UWS. Two weeks from now, you'll be able to walk right in. Same thing happened when they opened a Ben & Jerry's store on 104th and Broadway.

--

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Fear not! I only had to wait about 25 minutes. Very nice people ahead of and behind me on line. And lots of folks walking by seemed to gravitate to the woman behind me to ask what was going on, why were we all waiting on line? The reactions when told "Creampuffs" ranged from mildly unprintable to "Are they really good?" to totally mystified, bemused looks. All anybody on line could say was, "Who knows? They just opened."

The store is tiny: just wide enough for a few miniature speed racks, two small ovens (barely 3 feet square?), a counter where they fill and package the puffs, and one line of customers. The register is in the middle, and beyond is case for their other items (cheese cake stick, mango desserts, and the coffee maker). Nothing except the cream puff operation was going yet. The decor is very simple, very clean -- nothing flashy like the rice pudding place on Spring Street. The focus is on putting out the product, not on impressing customers with expensive design.

Today they had a full assembly line: one person (all the workers were young Japanese women, very perky) to load the ovens with the trays of raw puffs and to empty the baked ones into a shallow bin; one to squirt the "whipped cream custard" into the puffs; one to dredge the filled puff puffs with powdered sugar; one to put them into little paper wrapper/bags; one to pack your order; and one working the register. They were all pretty good about answering questions in English, or at least trying to. One mentioned that there are 250 stores in Japan and that everyone is very excited about opening this one (at least, I think that's what she said).

Okay: so how are these "beard papa's fresh 'n natural cream puffs"? Are they truly "World's Best Cream Puffs!"? Well, the choux pastry itself just might be the best I've had. The aroma of butter and egg is perfect, and the flavor of the two elements is very well balanced -- not too eggy, they as sometimes are. As far as I can tell, the "double-layer" comes from a very thin piecrust layer on the bottom of the choux, kind of brought up the sides a short distance. (Unbaked, you can't see anything; just perfectly uniform blobs of dough, even a little pasty -- not eggy -- looking. It's possible that the choux dough is fully wrapped, and explodes out of the pie dough when baking. ) There's a distinct difference in texture and flavor between the two elements of the shell. Definitely a superior choux puff, IMO.

They didn't actually fill the choux pastries when they were hot, directly out of the oven. (If they did, it would be bad for the filling, and probably lead to sogginess.) The puffs cool, and then one-by-one get jammed onto a tube leading out of what looks like a tiny silo, or sausage stuffer, or pancake-batter depositor. The filler sticks a puff onto the tube, then pulls down a handle on the custard silo, and voila! She had a tiny scale on which she would periodically check the filled weight. I didn't see her throw any out after weighing.

And the "whipped cream custard" filling, with its highly-touted vanilla-bean-speckles? It's . . . okay. Only lightly sweetened, and not particularly vanilla flavored for all the fuss they make about using "handpicked vanilla beans from Madagascar, known worldwide for the best natural-grown vanilla beans." The texture is very nice, light and smooth, a bit more toward the whipped cream than the custard. But there's not quite enough flavor. (In future, there will also be fillings flavored with green tea, caramel, cocoa, and "royal milk tea.") The light shower of powdered sugar is good, not enough to flake off all over you.

Which is good, because the filling squishes out by the second or third bite. Not great when you're eating one in a #3 express train barreling downtown. Fortunately it all stayed in the little paper wrapper. But the young woman across the aisle from me grinned as I licked my fingers and very kindly offered me some napkins. (Oh yeah, the store did not have any napkins out; maybe those will come later, with the rest of the items and the beverages.)

The cream puffs are $1.25 each. They are approximately 3 inches in diameter, 2 inches high, and weigh 2.5 ounces/78 grams.

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The cream puffs are $1.25 each. They are approximately 3 inches in diameter, 2 inches high, and weigh 2.5 ounces/78 grams.

...and add approximately 3 inches to one's waistline.

just kidding.

were any non-cream puff items selling, like the cheese cake sticks?

thanks for such a thorough report, Suzanne.

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No, the only thing they had to sell was the cream puffs. On the price board there were little "Coming Soon"-type signs stuck over everything else.

I figure if they can get by with fewer staff, given the high markup and relatively low production costs, they'll be able to stay in business a nice long time. And once the buzz has died down, they can probably run the front with two, maybe three staff.

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I ate two cream puffs this morning and I had one cream puff in the afternoon. :smile: After 4 hours of sitting on the table, the cream puff tasted good. The choux was still crispy.

The choux was great; the custard was good. The custard was not too sweet and it was very creamy. As Suzanne said, the custard has not so much flavor. I expected to be strong vanilla flavor, but it was a little blunt.

Check out the latest meal!

Itadakimasu

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Now I get it...when the Beard Papa in our local supermarket complex shut down, it went to New York...

When it opened, the queues were legend. But after a while, nobody bought enough to keep the place running. I think they had a choice of vanilla or chocolate custard cream, and mini or regular size puffs. (But memory is a little hazy).

I agree, the filling is a little bland. My guess is that the main aim of the pastry is for it to keep crisp for several hours, as sweets are such a major gift item here...and it's important for guests not to go open-handed, to the point where children headed out to play at a friend's house get loaded up with some very strange items in a desparate attempt to find a potential "gift" among the stuff lying around the kitchen!

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They have certainly have transplanted the operation faithfully from those I used to visit in Tokyo, from the white wooden cutout "Beard Papa" sign out front, the approximate same price for the goods (100 Yen per puff), and by the looks of it so far, the long line and mob scene out front (the Shibuya Crossing location in Tokyo always had a line about fifty people long at any one time).

They're also giving away free stainless steel thermoses to the first 100 people buying a six-pack of cream puffs every morning through tuesday march 9th (six-pack is normally 7.50 but it seems that one of the managers there randomly gives out coupons reducing the price to 6.00). I got my six puffs and thermos this morning (got on line at 9.50am on my way to work and had the puffs by 10.10). The puffs were indeed fresh and tasty but somehow I don't see them taking away business from Krispy Kreme. I have to say the hilarious english translation of the company's sanitary and "deliciousness" policies on the side of the thermos packaging are almost more than worth the wait on line.

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Well, I had to pay $7.50! :angry:

No, really, it's okay. And thanks for mentioning the signage. I was too busy chatting with my line-mates to write down the stuff on the wall, but it was still a lot better than I could ever do in Japanese. :wink:

No giggling, Jason. Although there were a couple of moments when it seemed they might break into song, a la Cold Stone Creamery. (Fortunately, they didn't.)

Just ate puff #3 (the sacrifices I make for this place, grumble grumble) which has been in the fridge since about 4:45 this afternoon. The pastry is starting to sog a bit, but is still mostly crisp. And I could be wrong, but I think the vanilla flavor is a bit stronger. So we have a dichotomy: fresher pastry is better, but slightly aged filling has more flavor. Oh dear.

OH, and Welcome, Banh Cuon!

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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