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Better than Beard Papa? Chantilly Patisserie explored.

Mr Taster Mar 19, 2007 06:46 PM

Last weekend my lovely tasting assistant (LTA) and I trekked out to Chantilly Patisserie in Lomita to taste their purported "better than beard papa" cream puffs. They offer two flavors, custard and black sesame and according to J. Gold the chef had a long training in Japan so I was expecting a transcendent experience.

My LTA and I popped in on a quiet afternoon. The place had that sterile, clinical-chic feel-- like a Boule or similar high priced confectionary joint. Nobody else was there, yet one table was filled with some long departed customer's half eaten cake, pastries and coffee. I could almost hear the flies buzzing around it. Sort of incongruous for the chic surroundings

We were greeted by the counter person who may (or may not) have been the pastry chef, Keiko Nojima. She was a slight Japanese woman with an air of quiet attitude about her. (however this was in a grubby strip mall, on a similarly grubbly strip of Lomita Blvd-- a strange place to find Beverly Hills attitude).

Even compared to Beard Papa's $1.75 puffs, these babies were pricey-- $3.00 each, or a box of 5 for $13. OK, chalk it up to an independent baker making her way in the world. I told the counter girl that we would like to pay for 5 of them, but we would like to eat one custard and one sesame now, and then we will make our decision as to what the other three would be based on our tasting.

I was shocked to hear the women tell me "no, we can't do that."

I said, "No, you don't understand, I'll pay for all five of them now. We will decide what we want the other three to be after we eat these."

She said, "No, the pack of 5 is only available to go."

OK, whatever. I tell her I'd like 3 black sesame and 2 custard, along with one mini cheesecake stick. While I'm waiting for the pastry chefs in the back to fill my puffs, I start to ask this woman (who may or may not be Keiko Nojima!) what the best way to preserve the puffs that we don't eat immediately. "We will probably eat them within 12 hours," I say. "Is it possible to refresh the choux by putting it in a hot oven on a stone for, say, 45 seconds?" Again, I had to explain myself to this woman. I don't know if she was intentionally being difficult because of this bad attitude, or if she was just daft. Eventually she told me "just put them in the refrigerator." OK, then the pastry gets soggy-- exactly what I was looking for tips to avoid. Whatever, again.

The puffs come out from the back. This woman slowly and methodically puts each puff in a little plastic sleeve, then builds a little paper box (like the ones beard papa uses) and gently slides the puffs into a 3x2 configuration. She closes the box and seals it with a little square sticker that has the bakery's name on it.

I believe the total came to about $14 and change. I hand her my debit card and she sighs and points to a tiny sign in front of the cash register-- "$15 minimum on credit card purchases." Oy gevalt. I hand over the cash.

OK, well-- now the moment you've been waiting for. The puffs!

First impressions-- we opened the box and found-- 3 custard and 2 sesame. Great one-- she couldn't even get this one right (or again she did it to stick it to us-- I still can't tell.)The puffs themselves were--- pretty good. Choux light and crispy, and the black sesame was unique and quite tasty. It tasted just as you would expect, a light and creamy custardy texture with that sort of light halvah flavor, but grey with little black specks. The plain custord version was light and airy, a little sweet. The sesame were definitely the standout number.

HOWEVER-- for the exhorbitant price, the suck-o attitude, and the way-out-of-the-way location, it'll be a really long while before I want to treck out to that grimy little strip mall on Lomita Blvd. again when I can get half priced puffs without the attitude up at hollywood and highland (or even better, after a dinner of pork pump at mei long village in San Gabriel!)

Mr Taster
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  1. m
    mc michael RE: Mr Taster Mar 19, 2007 07:40 PM

    Thanks for taking another one for the team!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mc michael
      Mr Taster RE: mc michael Mar 20, 2007 10:58 AM

      It's my godly given duty as an ordained Chowhound.

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    2. e
      Evan G RE: Mr Taster Mar 19, 2007 08:28 PM

      Well, it's not out of the way for everyone...I liked it. I've had some off cream puffs at Beard Papa (esp. the one on Sawtelle--they were already soggy and the choux was smushed). I agree that the sesame was the money cream puff.

      Their cakes are also really good.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Evan G
        c
        condiment RE: Evan G Mar 20, 2007 12:44 PM

        It must be said - any pastry shop that is in the same minimall as the okonomiyaki kings at Gaja and a three-minute drive from La Espanola's charcuterie cannot be considered entirely out of the way.

        I am a huge fan of those sesame puffs.

        1. re: condiment
          PseudoNerd RE: condiment Mar 20, 2007 04:50 PM

          agreed!

      2. b
        BobMack RE: Mr Taster Mar 20, 2007 03:03 PM

        Everytime I drive by they are closed, however when I visited awhile ago everything was very good and the prices seemed much lower than what you are saying. We never received atitude but the servers did seem a little clueless, it may be a language thing.

        Kotosh Peruvian Japanese is right across the street as well, excellent ceviche and arroz chaufa.

        10 Replies
        1. re: BobMack
          Mr Taster RE: BobMack Mar 20, 2007 03:38 PM

          From the outside they looked closed, with the shades drawn. However they were open. There was no language barrier-- the woman spoke english well. Prices when I visited a week ago are exactly as I quoted them.

          It's my godly given duty as an ordained Chowhound.

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          1. re: Mr Taster
            b
            BobMack RE: Mr Taster Mar 20, 2007 11:03 PM

            I meant that their prices must have gone up since I went there last which was awhile ago. For me the prices were reasonable but they don't seem so now. I didn't mean to sound like you quoted them wrong.

            Luckily for me my grandma makes a mean italian creampuff. Absolutely free.

            1. re: BobMack
              f
              Feed_me RE: BobMack Mar 22, 2007 02:13 AM

              I've been to Chantilly a few times, but it's a drive for me. The cream puffs are about $3 each or you do get a discount for 5. I was in kind of cream puff kick not too long ago. I felt the cream puffs were very good. Thanks to another poster, I heard about them and appreciated the information. He also mentioned Angel Maid on Centinela above Culver Boulevard. Theirs are tiny, but only about $7.50 for a dozen if I recall rightly (I only bought some last Saturday, but I can't find the receipt right now). I thought their puffs were also better than Beard Papa's too. Don't get me wrong...I like the Beard Papa's also, but if I were to go by absolute quality, I'd give those 2 the nod over BP. The Angel Maid ones are pretty straight forward, but the ones from Chantilly are pretty fancy. Can't explain the uncleaned table and attitude problem the op found. One time I bought 2 boxes for friends and the girl at the counter asked me if I needed help getting them to the car. Seeing as I was probably a lot bigger than the counterperson I kind of thought it was "overkill" seeing as the 2 boxes weighted maybe 2 pounds max, but probably less. If you're really interested or in the neighborhood, I'd try Chantilly and/or Angel Maid just to at least get an idea. Price is one measure, but "enquiring stomachs need to know."

              1. re: bulavinaka
                c
                cyberfoodie RE: bulavinaka Mar 22, 2007 08:51 PM

                I was there yesterday because of all the rave reviews of their cream puffs. It could not be more convenient as it's right on my way home from work and I found the little strip mall easily. The staff, two young girls as the counter, could not have been nicer. The shop itself was very clean and the items on display in the case were beautiful little works of art!
                I've never liked cream puffs as much as other pastries but they were Mom's favorite so I had to buy one in her honor. After reading the remarks here, I selected the sesame flavor over the traditional. I also bought a fresh fruit tart and some delish sesame cookies in a cute little bag.
                I made it as far as the car before I tore open the cookies. They were light as air, crisp and sweet with a nice sesame flavor. When I finally got the box open, I laid into the cream puff and let me just say it was an eye opener. Mom would have loved them and I'm a new fan. The choux was just right with a nice crusty outer layer and flaky middle with a slightly moist inner layer. The cream was not too sweet and different from any I've had before and there was a little bit on honey on top of the cream.
                It's obvious this lady knows what she's doing and takes great pride in her work. I was very impressed.
                They do cakes with 3 days advance order and I'm ordering one of her beautiful creations for my sister soon.

                1. re: cyberfoodie
                  r
                  ristretto RE: cyberfoodie Mar 23, 2007 09:46 AM

                  I agree with your description of the puffs and would also put CP above BP, but I don't think they are worth nearly twice the cost of the BP puffs - it's not a night and day difference. The cakes I tried seem to be a cut above those of typical Asian bakeries flavor- and quality-wise (as I'd expect, given the higher prices and probably higher quality ingredients), and I too am interested in ordering an entire cake.

                  1. re: ristretto
                    Mr Taster RE: ristretto Mar 23, 2007 11:10 AM

                    Exactly-- it's not worth nearly double the price, especially with the attitude I received.

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                    1. re: ristretto
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                      bulavinaka RE: ristretto Mar 25, 2007 08:39 AM

                      I think you need to make a fair comparison for yourself by having the two side-by-side. It is night and day. Chantilly eclipses BP.

                  2. re: Feed_me
                    f
                    Feed_me RE: Feed_me Mar 23, 2007 11:17 PM

                    Found that Angel Maid receipt...$7.50 for 16 choux, it says. They are rather small, but for the money excellent value. My friends that have eaten all 3: Chantilly, Angel Maid, and BP rate them in that order; although the black sesame ones are considered a clear leader of the pack.

                    1. re: Feed_me
                      b
                      bulavinaka RE: Feed_me Mar 23, 2007 11:25 PM

                      A box (or two) of Angel Maid's cream puffs are always a welcome gift to friends and neighbors when visiting - the chocolate coated ones almost always go first... having the remaining plain choux puffs is by no means a consolation either... a tall glass of ice cold milk serves these gems with great honor...

                      1. re: bulavinaka
                        f
                        Feed_me RE: bulavinaka Mar 24, 2007 09:46 PM

                        "bulavinaka" you're the one who informed me of the joys of Chantilly and Angel Maid for which I (and my tummy) are eternally grateful. My friend's wife made the trek to the Donut Man in Duarte to pick up some strawberry donuts and assorted goodies as thanks for some of those cream puffs. I'll be breaking the milk out tonight....food can be fun.

            2. MarikoDeVille RE: Mr Taster Mar 22, 2007 11:59 PM

              Not entirely familar with that area. Address, anyone?

              2 Replies
              1. re: MarikoDeVille
                Mr Taster RE: MarikoDeVille Mar 23, 2007 01:42 AM

                The address for this and all other restaurants in Los Angeles County is:

                http://ph.lacounty.gov/rating/

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                1. re: MarikoDeVille
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                  igj RE: MarikoDeVille Mar 23, 2007 06:47 AM

                  Patisserie Chantilly
                  2383 Lomita Blvd.
                  Lomita
                  310.257.9454

                2. modernist RE: Mr Taster Mar 23, 2007 03:16 PM

                  am i the only one that thinks the filling at beard papa's tastes chemically and industrial?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: modernist
                    b
                    bulavinaka RE: modernist Mar 23, 2007 08:12 PM

                    No, you're not... I would rate it as something akin to Jell-o pudding or the premade stuff that you get hanging in the bake aisle at the supermarkets. The aftertaste I get after eating BP's puffs seems a little off... I think if you're your totally focusing on price, then you can get some knarly-looking puffs at Costco - they're big with alot of cream. I think you get nine for about $10-$12. I haven't tried them as I wouldn't trust a cream puff that's been sitting in a refrigerated sealed box for who knows how long... or you can just pretend that Beard Papa is so worth it compared to Chantilly...

                    1. re: bulavinaka
                      SecretAsianMan RE: bulavinaka Mar 25, 2007 12:02 AM

                      Yes, absolutely agreed.

                      I find Beard Papa totally disgusting--chemically tasting and soulless.

                      Chantilly has never steered me wrong. I'm happy to drive from Glendale to Lomita for these things.

                      1. re: SecretAsianMan
                        gomagoma RE: SecretAsianMan Apr 16, 2007 06:24 PM

                        ...I think it just all depends on what you expect out of a cream puff and if you prefer the heavy custardy type filling or something else.

                        I can't even finish one Beard Papa puff - maybe a bite or two and that's it. I wouldn't go as far as saying that the filling is disgusting, but it's not my type of filling for a cream puff. I've had a few tries in Tokyo as well, but the result is pretty much the same.

                        On the other hand, Chantilly's puffs are delicate and no too sweet. Desserts with black sesame started booming in Japan....I'd say about 10 years ago. Everything from sesame ice cream, paste, chocolate, pudding, yogurt, rice cakes, etc. For me, Chantilly's puffs and cakes remind me of desserts in Tokyo --- I don't mind the drive from West LA at all. Desserts (or food) I don't enjoy at all are cupcakes and donuts.

                  2. notmartha RE: Mr Taster Apr 16, 2007 01:39 PM

                    Got two of the sesame puffs yesterday. Had to savage part of the trip as we planned to go to Gaja for lunch on Sunday and find it closed, as was La Espanola Meats.

                    Anyway, the flavor is unique, but I don't think it's really worth any kind of a drive. I like the pastry at Beard Papa's better (it's crispier), but the cream filling at Chantilly is a bit more delicate. Actually it tasted like sesame whipped cream, not really that custardy.

                    We ate one on the spot, and the other one about 8 hours later (had an icebox). The puff didn't suffer too much flavor-wise, and didn't get soggy.

                    I'd rather have a good custard filled donut or malasada.

                    1. bigtums RE: Mr Taster Apr 16, 2007 03:24 PM

                      My family are huge Angel Maid fans. Anytime more than three of us get together someone feels the need to bring the Angel Maid. It's usually the Chocolate dobash cake or custard pie, and every now and then the cream puffs. They're good and all, but they're "mushy". They don't have that crunch like BP since they fill there's right there. I feel like the Anger Maid ones taste like the ones in the refrigerator section at the japanese markets. Trust me, that doesn't stop me from eating them.

                      1. o
                        Ogawak RE: Mr Taster Nov 8, 2007 06:35 AM

                        I wanted to revive this old post because I tasted my first Chantilly cream puffs yesterday, after an enjoyable okonomiyaki lunch at Gaja. Bulavinaka was right. This is the best cream puff around, especially the sesame. Unbelievably light. And all the pastry looked so perfect in the glass cases. Beard Papa is a distant memory. But now Angel Maid is next on my list.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ogawak
                          Foodandwine RE: Ogawak Nov 8, 2007 09:15 AM

                          I have been to all 3 Cream Puff places in the last 4 months or so. Ever since I started reading then posting on Chowhound I had to go check these places out. My 3 in order of preference are.
                          Beard Papa (only been to Sawtelle location) I just liked the Choux/Cream ratio and flavor.
                          Angel Maid ( had the Mini Cream Puffs. Liked the choclate coverd Choux the best)
                          Chantilly ( had 1 puff vanilla and 1 Cheese Cake Stick) Puff was fine but placed 3rd to me when compared with the others and the Cheese Cake Stick was flavorless to me. I like that NY Cheesecake taste and texture, this was really lacking to my taste buds)
                          Well here you have it.. Thanks for the recs. It was a fun go at it..

                        2. m
                          mikester RE: Mr Taster Nov 8, 2007 10:14 AM

                          "The puffs come out from the back."

                          This has got to be one of the best lines ever written on Chowhound. Right out of a Dashiell Hammett potboiler !

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