Speaking French with an Asian accent
While croissants, larger-than-average macarons and cakes are staples at Paris Baguette, their menu also features globally inspired delights not found in most traditional bakeries. Here in San Diego, the latter mostly means French pastries with Asian influences.
Maybe it’s because our two locations are inside Asian markets (H Mart in Mira Mesa and Zion Market in Kearny Mesa), hinting at the company’s heritage. Paris Baguette is a South Korean household name with 3,500 branches there alone (to give you an idea, you can fit seven South Koreas in California) and so popular worldwide they confidently and successfully opened in Paris a few years ago.
My first Paris Baguette experience happened at the urging of a friend who thought correctly I’d enjoy what is basically a Daifukumochi (a Japanese dessert with a glutinous rice exterior that is stuffed with sweet red beans) baked inside of a croissant. The mochi turns delectably gooey inside the crispy crust. Paris Baguette labels it a Sweet Rice Pastry, and you’ll also find sweet red beans stuffed in pastry without the mochi as well as inside brioche (with cream) and sugared doughnuts.
Speaking of doughnuts, if you have yet to sink teeth into a croissant doughnut, do it here. Their version has sweet cream drizzled on top with a bit more stuffed inside than the NYC version, I’m told, but it’s still delicious. Call for availability before heading over as they can sell out.
The Sweet Potato Twist is almost always in stock and a staffer at the Kearny Mesa store recently shared that it’s their most popular pastry. Hidden inside of a perfectly shaped and narrow twisted pastry awaits a middle of sweet sweet-potato paste that you’d probably think was something else if the signage didn’t indicate otherwise. It’s a good choice for people like me who sugar up croissants with a good helping of jam. The Green Pea (no, not tea) Twist is another favorite. It’s sweet, too.
Cakes are different from the norm here and, again, popular. The fresh cream frosting used on most tastes like lightly sweetened cream that is whipped to a silky texture. It tops and fills cakes like Strawberry Fresh Cream, Red Velvet Fresh Cream, Green Tea Chiffon and Blueberry Chiffon that can be ordered whole in advance or devoured by the slice in-store.
It’s also necessary to give a quick nod to the Royal Pudding, Soft Cheese Cake and mini croissants (great for brunches and afternoon teas). But what you find at one Paris Baguette may differ from another as outlets cater to what their local population is asking for. This is part of their key to success, and expansion plans in the U.S. are well underway.
Katie Dillon is a lifestyle and travel writer who believes that one of the best ways to explore a city is through its food and drinks. Follow her adventures on social media at @lajollamom and send any tasty ideas to email@example.com.
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