If you’re sick of the cycle of guilt that deep-fried donuts bring you, head on over to Beard Papa’s. Beard what? That was my first reaction too, so first, a bit of background: Beard Papa’s has been a household name in Japan since 1999, when Yuji Hirota opened the first Beard Papa’s store in Osaka, Japan. There are now hundreds of locations worldwide, throughout Japan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Russia, Tahita, Canada, the UK and the US. They’ve built a brand as the bakery of the “World’s Best Cream Puffs.”
With a few locations scattered around Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond, their West End location is probably the most “touristy.” That was, until I walked past a recently leased shop window on Robson and Seymour and saw that they were opening their second downtown location here. Unfortunately, there was no indication of when their doors were going to open, so I’ll just have to keep an eye out.
If you haven’t heard of these Asian-inspired, crunchy yet soft cream-puff concoctions, they’re worth a try. The outside is made of French crispy choux pastry, while the inside is brimming with custard in flavours like green tea, mango and chocolate. They don’t have a huge array of flavours, and they often have vanilla and one other flavour on the Beard Papa menu.
If you hit a Beard Papa location when it’s prime cream puff time, you can even see the efficient assembly line: hundreds of baked puffs cooling on metal racks, the huge vat of pastry cream being pumped into each puff by hand, and a designated cream puff-duster making sure each one gets a hit of powdered sugar.
Now, back to the deep-fried-dough guilt. Each of these cream puffs has 220 calories, and no preservatives are used. They’re baked, not fried. Okay, I know that pastry and custard is by no means a health food, but it seems a bit more natural. The custard filling contains ingredients like high quality green tea extract and Bavarian chocolate, and is combined right before filling the pastry.
And then I had a few Beard Papa ideas:
A birthday cake. The taste of Beard Papa cream puffs isn’t overly sweet, so it may not satiate your miniature sugar lover, but I’ve heard of a few moms who have replaced the novelty cake with a tower of Beard Papa puffs and candles, much to the delight of the youngsters at the party. Keep in mind: these treats are best eaten soon after purchase (like that’s really a problem), so don’t buy them for a birthday a few days away – the day of is best.
Holiday Beard Papa’s! The mascot already looks a lot like Santa Claus, and the box is bright and decorative, perfect for a last minute gift of half dozen or a dozen cream puffs for your next holiday party or hostess gift.
Erin Stringer has been a freelance writer for over 10 years, and her work has appeared in various online and offline publications. She enjoys writing about all that Vancouver has to offer. Erin is a VancouverMom.ca contributor. Have some great article ideas? Find out how you can become a contributor.