Saturday, May 27, 2006

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.


At 9:53 AM, Blogger lerjia said...

I thought that cream puff was pretty damned delicious... maybe the best I've ever had (though I guess maybe I haven't had *that* many). Love the visible vanilla bean in the custard, which is rich and not too pudding-gelatinous nor whipped-cream-frothy like other puffs I've had, and I made sure to try this before it became older than 12 hours, so I still got the crunchy outside, which was great, though undoubtedly even better at 7:40pm. Thanks again for getting a batch for us to try!!!!

At 5:08 PM, Anonymous joy said...

yes, thanks to paul & lisette for bringing us cream puffs! i thought they were yummy, but that they didn't quite merit all the hype i've heard for the past year. i liked the combination of whipped cream & custard in the filling, though (i'm a big fan of whipped cream). :) i look forward to trying some of their other flavors as well -- perhaps green tea.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger James Mills said...

Maybe the folks at the Chronicle have been visiting your site:

Good cream puff, but don't know that I'd make a special trip for them. I'd need one on the corner.

At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Papa Beard opened up in November in Redwood City, on the Theatre block.
835 Middlefield Road
Redwood City, CA 94063
I'd say I could eat 2, but not 3, cream puffs. My 6 yr old could barely finish one and my 3 yr old could eat less than half of one.
So, think about that before ordering the box of 6 that needs to be consumed within a day. They were good, but I wouldn't drive there unless I was in the area. The caramel tasted likethe vanilla one. Call to see if what other flavors are available, since they sometimes add a weekly flavor.


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