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Beard Papa stinks [moved from San Francisco board]

I was walking past Fourth and Mission Saturday, so I thought I'd give Beard Papa a try. The smell made me lose my appetite: like factory-made pie dough baking. Which makes sense, since that's the outer covering.

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  1. And don't you love the video showing how they make them using canned milk? Yum! Plus I love when they bend down (in video) and you can see all the cleaning supplies and other crap tossed about.

    1. Smells like a bad carnival midway...but hey, some of the best junk food comes from places like that. Chances are they didn't budget much for the video, and got some amateur to make it.

      1. Bought 6 of the vanilla eclairs this weekend. Same thing as the cream puffs, with the addition of a chocolate topping. Usually I love eclairs, but not this time. The topping results in masking the crispness of the outer shell when you bite into it. For me, the contrast between that crispness and the softness of the interior shell was what makes these unique. Also, the chocolate had barely a trace of sugar, most likely bittersweet. Because japanese baked goods tend to have less sugar anyways, IMHO these puffs really benefit from the powered sugar that the plain ones are sprinkled with. All in all, a very unsatisfactory experience. Regretting that I had bought six, I promptly cut off the tops of the remaining puffs when I returned home. Took 2 days for 3 people to finish them up...that's how unexciting they were after the decapitation.

        1. Agreed. I don't see what all the fuss is about.
          Though, maybe it speaks volumes about the sad state of fine pastry in the US nowadays. Or I am reading into it too much.

          1. I will say this: my first ever Beard Papa (Sawtelle location in Los Angeles) was delicious. Crispy outside, soft creamy filling, chock full of visible black vanilla seeds that popped lightly in my mouth.

            Second visit: vile. The number of vanilla seeds in the cream was about a fifth of that at my first visit, the crust had been pre-filled and was a little soggy, and I didn't get the opening week buy two get one free deal (which is just as well, because it was so ho hum). Too bad they can't keep up the quality past the first few weeks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pei

              Update: I prefer BP to a lot of food court sweet snacks, but I think what finally killed it for me was watching the staff rip open a clear plastic sack of frozen dough balls the size of golf balls, pour them onto a baking sheet, haphazardly spread them around, and then pop them into the oven. Where's the magic?

            2. Beard Papa's thingies aren't exactly cream puffs. They make a two-layer sandwich of pie dough and puff pastry.

              Contrary to their claim that "You can taste the difference of our commitment to serve only the freshest cream puffs with the highest quality available, natural ingredients in every bite," the thingies are made in Japan, the ingredients include margarine and shortening, and they're shiped frozen to the U.S.


              1. They definitely taste different here than the ones my family and I had in Hiroshima. My mom sort of documents which ones around Cali and Hawaii she's willing to go to based on how many squeezes of cream she gets.

                1. There is a Beard Papas in Waikiki...I live in Kauai and everytime I fly to Oahu, I have to get a big box to bring back for my coworkers. The filling reminds me of the crepe filling of crepes made in Tokyo, so I guess I like them. Overall, I don't LOVE them and I think that they are over priced. But, I am wondering if the Waikiki location might be a bit better than the Cali locations, because it caters to many of the Japanese tourists, who have high standards of everything......

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mag454

                    Odd, I just visited a Beard Papas in Waikiki while in the islands for a meeting. Coming from the midwest I had never heard of the chain before. I had a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast and thought it was decent. The egg had some type of dried herb folded in that gave it an interesting savory taste. I also tried a regular cream puff and found it fairly enjoyable. The filling was very cold, almost like vanilla ice cream. I was perplexed because the shell itself didn't appear to be cold, only the filling. If we had them in the midwest I'd certainly revisit.

                  2. I think people either love it or hate it. It seemed to be all the rage last year or two when BP first opened here in the LA areas. I didn't think they were particularly good...only b/c I can make them better. =P

                    1. BP was a big deal here in NYC when they first started opening locations several years ago. I think I liked the first one I had, but cannot remember much about how it tasted. There's one around the corner from where I live now, and I have never even been tempted to go in.
                      The thing to remember is that they are not supposed to be European pastry. What makes them appealing (to some) is the idea of them as Japanese versions of European pastry (hence the dry dough and sweet, powdered cream ingredients?). I am neither defending them nor knocking them, I just think we should keep in mind that they are intended as a novelty item here in the US.

                      1. Given the choice, I prefer Twinkies.

                        1. wouldn't it be great if a chain opened up that made real cream puffs?!