beard papa’s cream puff
When several people send me the same suggestion for my cool thing of the day (thanks Julie! thanks Lisette!), it is pretty likely I am going to investigate. And, that’s exactly what happened last night when I checked out Beard Papa cream puffs in San Francisco.
Opened on May 12 and profiled both in the Chronicle and Mercury News 5 days later, Beard Papa is a sensation in Japan with more than 200 locations. Early franchises in the States have matched its home-country success. The NYC store featured long lines for months, and the Hawaii, Boston and LA locations have been quite popular as well.
The San Francisco branch (conveniently located right across from the Metreon) currently sells coffee, tea and vanilla cream puffs. Next week they will introduce a chocolate cream puff and a daily puff flavor (milk tea, pumpkin, strawberry, green tea or caramel), and their menu suggests that cheesecake sticks and éclairs are coming soon. But, Beard Papa’s fame has been earned by the original vanilla.
The cream puffs are made from special dough flown in daily and a blend of custard and whipped cream prepared several times each day onsite. A Beard Papa video shows the whole process, but the dough is crispy on the outside and choux pastry on the inside, and it is baked in glass-fronted ovens as fast as they can. Once cooled, each puff shell is filled with a soft, smooth mixture made by folding fresh custard (Madagascar vanilla, egg yolks, Clover milk and butter) with just-whipped whipped cream. It is then sprinkled with powdered sugar and handed to an eager customer.
I bought a number of puffs just before the store closed at 8p to take to dinner; however, the best way to enjoy a Beard Papa is right when you buy it. If you wait, the pastry does get soggy although the cream retains it delicious flavor. I like Beard Papa, and I am anxious to return, but I am also eager to visit to Satura Cakes (perhaps on June 2 once their University Ave location opens) to re-sample their cream puff. I wonder which will "reign supreme." Papa Beard cream puffs are $1.75; "if memory serves," Satura’s are almost double the price ($3).
Bonus link: watch a home movie of the pastry shells being filled and then rolled in powdered sugar
Beard Papa: 99 Yerba Buena Ln., San Francisco, CA (415) 978-9972
Beard Papa: 835 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, CA (650) 218-7930
12/4 Update: As the last comment suggests, Beard Papa has opened in downtown Redwood City. it is every bit as tasty as SF but without the lines. My favorite item is the éclair.