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Silky, Light and Airy - The Cream Puff (Choux a la Creme) Showdown! Patisserie Chantilly Vs. Bonjour French Pastry [Review] w/ Pics!

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(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2010/03...

Ah, the Cream Puff. The little, spherical shells of baked goodness, filled with a beautiful, light pastry cream. :) Beyond the random Choux a la Creme my parents fed me from time-to-time while growing up, my first experience with the now almost-passe Cream Puff was at Beard Papa's on Sawtelle years ago. I remember hearing about this "place that makes really good Cream Puffs" from a few people, and after trying one... I was indifferent. It tasted fine, but it wasn't anything redefining. Then, after Beard Papa's started expanding all over California, I tried them at a few more locations and it just got worse; they had a synthetic, mass-produced taste to them.

Flash-forward a year or two, and I remember reading some enthusiastic posts by bulavinaka and others on Chowhound about some amazing Cream Puffs at Patisserie Chantilly, and I stopped by to try one. Simply wonderful. :) It was nothing like the flat-tasting Cream Puffs I had at Beard Papa's. This was soulful and creamy and tasted like it was made with love. :)

A few years later, Chantilly has been my only stop for French-Japanese Choux a la Creme (and aux Chocolat and Sesame :). But then a great post by buttermarblepopcorn asking about how Patisserie Chantilly compared to Bonjour French Pastry (another French-Japanese Pastry Shop in the area) piqued my interest, and the Cream Puff (Choux) Showdown was on! :)

(Note: Final scores based solely on the Cream Puff; other pastries sampled are not factored in.)

* Patisserie Chantilly *

Opened 5 years ago by Pastry Chef Keiko Nojima, Patisserie Chantilly is the result of Nojima-san's dream to open a French-Japanese Pastry Shop in Los Angeles, similar to the ones she worked at while in Japan. In Tokyo, they're practically on every other block, Nojima-san explains, and she wondered why they weren't more prominent here in So Cal.

The interior of Patisserie Chantilly is modern, sleek and clean. It's an inviting, cheerful ambiance and the glass counter displaying the creations by Pastry Chef Nojima only serves to widen your grin as you pore over the beautiful desserts that are almost like individual works of art.

On any given day, you might find Keiko-san's signature Chantilly Fromage (Chef's signature Cheesecake baked on Buttery Honey Graham Cracker Crust), or Noix (Tea Chiffon rolled to perfection with Caramelized Walnuts & Chantilly Cream).

Or maybe their Gateau Fraise (Layers of Chiffon with our Special Cream, Strawberries & 100% Pure Jam), or various flavors of Macarons and Sable.

(Note: Patisserie Chantilly only uses 3 types of Butter or a pure Vegetable Oil, depending on the application. They thankfully *don't* use Partially-Hydrogenated Oils (like many local bakeries and pastry shops I've run across).)

But at the end of the day, it's all about their famous Cream Puffs. (^_^) Chantilly usually serves 3 basic flavors of Cream Puffs, with a seasonal flavor served once in a while (e.g., Chestnut).

Over the years, I find myself coming back to their Fukamushi Sencha (Fukamushi Green Tea) as my favorite beverage to enjoy with their various pastries. On this visit, the cup of nicely brewed Fukamushi (pronounced "Foo Kah Moo Shee") Green Tea is just as intense and woodsy as I remember it being, with a hint of saltiness.

We start with their Choux a la Creme (Signature Pastry Cream-filling Cream Puff).

I remember the first time I saw Chantilly's version of the Cream Puff years ago, and knew that it was in a different league than the ones I'd had before (that I could accurately remember). They're rough-hewn, rustic baked Puffs absolutely brimming with Nojima-san's signature Creme filling. I take a bite...

Smooth, silky, bright, and so creamy, this is simply leagues ahead of most Cream Puffs I've had at Asian pastry shops. :) It's absolutely wonderful with this delicate beauty about it with every bite. The Puff itself also tastes very fresh and homemade (not manufactured or overly synthetic). Wonderful! :)

We try their Choux au Chocolat (Chocolate Cream Puff) next.

I'm not the biggest Chocolate fan in the world, but their Chocolate Cream filling is also stellar: A light, fragrant Chocolate aroma hits the palate and has the same silky mouthfeel as their original Pastry Cream version.

And while I love their Choux a la Creme, I'd have to say I absolutely adore their Choux aux Sesame (Black Sesame & Honey Cream Puff).

Nojima-san uses a mixture of ground Kurogoma (Black Sesame Seeds) and whole Kurogoma in this Black Sesame Cream filling and the results are simply stunning: Aromatic, intensely nutty, and silky smooth, but then you get little bits of Black Sesame to break up the texture. It's at once a graceful waltz and a passionate tango hitting your senses at the same time. Outstanding! :)

One of my guests feels like trying their Macarons, so we decide to try 3 flavors and their Tarte aux Fruits as well.

I'm a huge Strawberry fan, so I'm looking forward to the Tarte aux Fruits (Fresh, Seasonal Fruits with our Special Cream & Almond Cream Filled Tart).

In concept, it's great: The Tarte aux Fruits is bursting with beautiful-looking Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Pineapple, Grapefruit and Kiwi. But unfortunately on this visit, nearly all the fruit taste out-of-season: They're not sweet or vibrant and really detract from the pastry overall. The crust of the Tart is excellent, though, with a subtle crumbly, slight crunch.

Next, we try an assortment of their Macarons: Lemon Macaron, Lavender Earl Grey and Mint Chocolate.

I'm not a connoisseur of Macarons, but all 3 flavors have a delicate outer crust giving way to intense bursts of flavors: The Lemon Macaron has a nice explosion of Lemon citrus flavors; the Lavender Earl Grey tastes like a sweet concentration of its namesake flower; while the Mint Chocolate is the only disappointment - it's not very minty or chocolaty at all.

There really isn't a full-service option at Chantilly: You mainly order up front and if you're dining in, they will ask you to chose a table and will bring out your drinks and pastries to you. Prices range from $2.95 (for the Cream Puffs) to $4.50. They also offer 5 Cream Puffs for $12.95.

Patisserie Chantilly represents the total package for French-Japanese Pastry Shops in So Cal: Modern looks, gorgeous presentation, and at least 3 Cream Puff (Choux) flavors that are consistently smile-inducing and just flat-out wonderful, especially the Choux aux Sesame.

* 2nd Place *
*** Rating (Choux a la Creme): 8.5 (out of 10.0) ***

* 1st Place *
*** Rating (Choux au Chocolat): 8.4 (out of 10.0) ***
*** Rating (Choux aux Sesame): 9.0 (out of 10.0) ***

Patisserie Chantilly
2383 Lomita Blvd., #104
Lomita, CA 90717
Tel: (310) 257-9454

Hours: Mon, 11:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Wed - Sun, 11:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays.

http://www.patisseriechantilly.com/

* Bonjour French Pastry *

And on the other side of town lies Bonjour French Pastry. It's been around for 21 years, helmed by Chef-Owner Yuji Shiraki. Shiraki-san trained in France and Japan before opening up Bonjour in 1989. Walking into Bonjour feels like a warm, lived-in little cafe; it's not as modern and clean as Patisserie Chantilly, but it still maintains an inviting decor.

Taking away their special occasion Cakes, it seems that Bonjour has fewer offerings than Chantilly. Looking over their glass case, their presentation and naming convention reflect a more straightforward philosophy, with items like Strawberry Mousse, Fruit Tart and "Rare Cheese". :)

Bonjour offers no Japanese Teas for their Tea Menu, but in my 2 visits, I've found myself enjoying their English Breakfast Tea the most with their pastries.

On my 1st visit, we decide to start off with their humorously named Rare Cheese, which is Bonjour's signature Cheesecake.

As I lightly cut through it with a fork, I can tell the texture is something much different than the usual Cheesecakes around town. This Rare Cheese(cake) is extremely delicate and airy. It has a very smooth consistency and is more cloud-like than the denser, American-style Cheesecakes. Wonderful! :)

For comparison's sake, we also order a Fruit Tart to see how it compares with Patisserie Chantilly's version.

This one has fewer pieces of Fruit, but the choices seem better (except the Strawberry and Raspberry - they both taste as unripe as Chantilly's version). But sadly, the Tart crust is really disappointing: Dense, bread-like, and really fighting the notion of a light Fruit Tart.

But, this is all about the Cream Puff, so I anxiously open up Chef Shiraki's version of Choux a la Creme. This marks 2 disadvantages that Bonjour has to Chantilly: (1) While Bonjour makes their Cream Puffs fresh that morning, they are pre-piped and packaged, and put into the refrigerated display case in batches throughout the day (whereas Chantilly pipes it fresh when you order); and (2) Bonjour offers only 1 flavor - Pastry Cream - compared to Chantilly's 3+ flavors.

On the surface, the fact that Bonjour doesn't prepare their Choux a la Creme fresh to order should automatically propel Chantilly to the top spot (at least that was my thinking), but then I take a bite:

(Cue birds chirping. Sun shining down onto an open grassy field. :) Wow.

While the Puff itself is a little soft (due to the Pastry Cream already piped in and sitting for a bit), Shiraki-san's Creme is so *pure* and dreamy, it's like you're dancing through the clouds, and it's downright luscious. (^_^) I love Chantilly's Choux a la Creme, and it's been my favorite for years now, but Bonjour's Creme filling itself is even more ridiculously wonderful. :)

I couldn't believe how good it was, and to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I returned for a 2nd visit (at a different time of the day as well): Bonjour's Choux a la Creme was still as outstanding as before! :)

If there's one downside, it's the pastry shell itself. Chantilly's is superior and not as soft and soaked in the Pastry Cream because it's piped fresh when you order. I can only imagine just how absurdly good Bonjour's Choux would be if it were served piped fresh-to-order, and not ahead of time.

Finally, we decide to try their Custard Puff, which turns out to be a Mini Sponge Cake with the same Pastry Cream filling as their Cream Puff.

While it sounds like there are some similarities with the Cream Puff, the Sponge Cake really changes the whole feel of this creation: It becomes more of textural harmony, instead of textural contrasts, and it mostly works. While the ultra-soft, pillowy Sponge Cake is seductive on some levels, there's something a bit dull about its actual taste. It's not bad, but not as fresh and alive as their Cream Puff. The Pastry Cream filling is, of course, as amazing as before. :)

Service is similar to Chantilly: You order your items at the counter and find a table, where the servers will bring out your drinks and pastries. Prices range from $1.10 - $4, with their Choux being $2.50.

Bonjour French Pastry feels a little more well-worn, but their pastries (except the Fruit Tart) reflect a competency well above average, with their Pastry Cream filling for their Cream Puff being the highlight of the menu. If Shiraki-san ever decided to make more than 1 flavor for their Choux and fill them, fresh-to-order, they would be even more formidable than they currently are.

* 1st Place *
*** Rating (Choux a la Creme (Cream Puff)): 8.7 (out of 10.0) ***

Bonjour French Pastry
18222 S. Western Ave.
Gardena, CA 90248
Tel: (310) 323-1468

* Cash Only *

Hours: Tues - Fri, 9:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Sat, 10:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Sun, 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Closed Mondays.

http://www.bonjourpastry.com/

Final Thoughts: Ultimately, it's a Tie between Patisserie Chantilly and Bonjour French Pastry. :) While the basic Choux a la Creme filling moved me more at Bonjour, their pre-piped, pre-packaged setup undermined the wonderful, silky, balanced filling. Add to it the lack of any other flavor except Creme, and that's where Chantilly gains the upper hand.

For a more modern, updated setting, with more flavors and freshly-filled Cream Puffs, Chantilly is the place to go. And for the ultimate, pure Pastry Cream filling, Bonjour wins out. For me? I'll be adding Bonjour to my rotation when I'm in the mood for a pure Choux a la Creme, and when I happen to be at Asa Ramen (same mini-mall), or Shin Sen Gumi Yakitori (one block away :). And I'll continue to relax at Patisserie Chantilly and enjoy their variety of flavors and freshly made quality, especially the Black Sesame Cream Puff, after a great meal at Gaja. (^_~)

-----
Patisserie Chantilly
2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

Bonjour French Pastry
18222 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90504

 
 
 
 
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    1. Spectacular post exilekiss but you're killin me! Both places are closed at this late hour and your wonderful post has me craving Pastry Chef Keiko Nojima's wonders! My first Japanese style cream puffs were at Beard Papa's and I did like them until Bulavinaka's posts had me traveling long and far to Lomita for Patisserie Chantilly's cream puffs. I have never returned to a Beard Papa shop! Now I must try the offerings at Bonjour French Pastry. My personal trainer is not going to be happy with me!!!

      6 Replies
      1. re: sel

        Hi sel,

        Thanks. :) So you also started with Beard Papa's and then went over to Chantilly? :) We have to blame Bulavinaka for starting all of this. Have you ever tried their Mont Blanc? That's one pastry I've been dying to try, but every single time I go to Patisserie Chantilly, I always end up with their Choux a la Creme and Sesame. :)

        1. re: exilekiss

          Hi exilekiss-
          Don't think that I tried their Mont Blanc. I have tried several items, I remember little fruit tarts that were ok but nothing sucks me back through their door like the Choux a la Creme and Black Sesame Cream Puffs!!!

          1. re: exilekiss

            I've had the Mont Blanc--it's very good, but not my favorite pastry. I prefer the Othello, which is richly chocolatey while also very light and airy. It has a little sesame flavor as well. If I eat the Othello or another pastry there, I still get a sesame cream puff to go. :) They do hold up okay in the fridge for a few hours.

            1. re: Nicole

              Hi Nicole,

              Oh my... the Othello sounds awesome. :) I can't believe I didn't see it in all my years going to Patisserie Chantilly! Then again, every time I go, my eyes automatically drift to the 3 Choux and they're ordered before my brain registers that there are other things to try there. :) Thanks for the thoughts on the Mont Blanc also.

            2. re: exilekiss

              OK folks, blame away. :) But I defer to J. Gold writing an article on cream puffs in LA a handful of years ago. He truly piqued my curiosity when he described Keiko-san's artisnal approach to the cream puffs as well as just about everything else she creates at her patisserie. To me, focus + creativity + quality = Chow-worthy. In my eyes, Patisserie Chantilly has always scored high in this equation.

              And great review as always - this is par for your course, exilekiss. I really need to give Bonjour French Pastry in Gardena a try. I've walked or driven by a handful of times but never noticed their cream puffs to be honest - maybe they were out or I just missed them - no, they must have been out - I have choux GPS in my tastebuds. Your experiencing birds chirping after giving their cream puffs a try warrants a beeline trip to this place - hopefully this weekend. Geez, birds and bees in one sentence - this could be a good omen...

              1. re: bulavinaka

                Hi bulavinaka,

                No no, sonna koto nai desu. (^_^; Thank you for your original enthusiastic recommendation for Patisserie Chantilly.

                And again, I think it's really a tie, with Chantilly winning on variety and their Black Sesame Choux; I can't get enough of their Kurogoma Choux. :) But you should definitely try Bonjour's Choux a la Creme and let me know what you think. :)

          2. Yet another inspiring post.

            I went to Chantilly after seeing Gold's post on 99 things in LA to eat before you die, with Chantilly's sesame cream puff making the list. The cream puff was unlike any other cream puff that I've eaten. It was very enjoyable but it wasn't the smoothest cream filling (even if you account for the sesame) that I've had IMHO (which is a tossup between my grandmother's and this patisserie I stopped at in Paris, who's name or location I'll never remember because I was lost).

            One day, I'll hit up Bonjour for my own taste test (but maybe I'll go there just when they open so I don't get a cream puff that's been sitting for hours getting soggy).

            Thanks again for another great post.

            1 Reply
            1. re: DrBruin

              Hi DrBruin,

              Wow, that's so awesome that your grandmother makes Choux a la Creme for you! I'm jealous. :)

              You should give Bonjour's version a try; it's quite smooth and silky (very refined), and let us know what you think. :)

            2. Thanks for another great review! I have been enjoying the sesame cream puffs at Chantilly on a fairly regular basis for the last year or so. When I saw recent posts about Bonjour, I wondered about it, but I kind of thought, how can any cream puff possibly top my beloved sesame cream puff at Chantilly? I think I may now be curious enough about that cream at Bonjour to give it a try.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Nicole

                Hi Nicole,

                Definitely! :) Bonjour isn't too far away from Chantilly, so the next time you stop by the area, let me know what you think of Bonjour's Choux. But don't get me wrong, I still totally adore Patisserie Chantilly's Black Sesame Cream Puff (and Bonjour has nothing like it), and the Puff itself is superior at Chantilly. I just can't get enough of Bonjour's Pastry Cream filling. :)

              2. Hey Exilekiss -- I must personally thank you for posting this review and further answering my question! One of these days I'll get my butt over to both shops and gorge myself on cream puffs. Again, thank you!

                P.S. Oh, and your pictures are drool-tastic.

                1 Reply
                1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                  Hi buttermarblepopcorn,

                  No, no, thank *you* for piquing my interest and starting the original thread about these 2. :) When you get to do your own taste test, please report back with your findings. Thanks! :)

                2. Two years ago I ordered my birthday cake from Chantilly, a Gateau aux Fraises.

                  That was the best cake I ever had.

                  I also bought a coffee cake from Bonjour once and that was also really, really good.

                  I really don't know how you can choose between them. Except when you get those black sesame cravings.

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: kainzero

                    Hi kainzero,

                    Thank you for the 411 on the 2 Birthday Cakes from Patisserie Chantilly and Bonjour. Do you remember roughly how much both places charge for their full Birthday Cakes?

                    -----
                    Patisserie Chantilly
                    2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

                    1. re: exilekiss

                      I didn't get a birthday cake from Bonjour, just a regular small cake that I picked up for the family on the way home from Asa. I think that one was was $17.

                      The birthday cake from Patisserie Chantilly, I think it was a quarter-sheet and if I remember correctly it was somewhere in the range of $30-$40.

                      1. re: kainzero

                        Hi kainzero,

                        Thanks. How many pieces were you able to serve with their quarter-sheet size?

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          When I went today I found out the price was actually $60 for a quarter sheet of Gateau Aux Fraises, and IIRC it served a little over 20 people.

                          Maybe they raised the price over the last 2 years... or maybe I have a bad memory.

                          1. re: kainzero

                            I was also there today after a nice lunch at Gaja next door. $60 seems in line with the $4 for a single serving or $29 for an 8 (9?) inch round. I don't know if it's worth the price premium compared to similar cakes at your typical Asian bakery but it sure seems more delicate and refined.

                            The macaroons in the case were tempting, but I couldn't quite bear to pay $1.25 for a 1.5" diameter-sized cookie.

                            I ended up getting a box of assorted cream puffs. They ran out of the creme choux, so they substituted the sesame-topped choux with a la creme filling. No biggie - sometimes, you gotta be flexible!

                            1. re: ristretto

                              I've tried all their flavors of macarons, and they are good but not great...they are not worth the price.

                              1. re: Nicole

                                Hi Nicole,

                                Thanks for the advice. :) I'm not a macaron expert by any means. What are your favorite places for macarons in L.A.? Thanks.

                                1. re: exilekiss

                                  I'm not really a macaron expert either, but my top pick is Pascal's Epicerie in Orange County (in Costa Mesa or Newport). Macarons can be expensive, and I felt that they had the best quality to price ratio. In L.A. proper, I also liked the ones at Jin's Patisserie in Venice and Paulette's in Beverly Hills, but both were pricey. Chantilly macarons had a very nice texture, but the flavors just didn't sing...they were more generically sweet than identifiable as their specific flavors. Paulette's has great flavors but the texture isn't quite as good.

                                  1. re: Nicole

                                    Hi Nicole,

                                    Thanks for the rec. :) Whenever I visit some of my OC Hounds, we usually pass by Pascal's and I never noticed that they carried Macarons (then again I'm not the biggest fan, but appreciate a good one once in a while :).

                                    1. re: Nicole

                                      Update: got some macarons from Pascal's this week and they weren't as good as they had been in the past...the texture was off and most the flavors weren't as intense as I would like. They even looked different, bigger and fluffier. I will try them again in the future, but in the meantime I can't vouch for them anymore.

                                      1. re: Nicole

                                        Hi Nicole,

                                        Bummer. Thanks for the warning on Pascal's. I was looking forward to trying them.

                                    2. re: exilekiss

                                      Paulette in Beverly Hills carries by far the best macarons in LA. In fact, I just had them twice this weekend and thought they were so good I almost couldn't tell the difference between them and the ones from Paris. The flavors were awesome (particularly peach and earl grey) and the texture was absolutely spot on. These macarons are simply amazing.

                                      The macarons from Jin Pattiserie on the other hand are awful. As another macaron lover said to me when we recently tried them together, the macarons were so dense and chewy it tasted like a Starburst candy. In addition, the buttercream filling was so weak in flavor and form that it tasted like a cheap cake from Safeway. I honestly have no idea why anyone insist on filling their macarons with buttercream. Call me a purist, but there's a reason why the classics all use ganache and compote-like fillings!

                                      The macarons from Chantilly are marginally better in terms of flavor (think matcha and black sesame, for instance), but the texture is pretty bad as well. Not only are they too dense and chewy like the ones from Jin, but the last time I tried them, the macaron shells had clearly bubbled up too much resulting in a big hollow space INSIDE the macaron. Thinking about it still makes me shudder.

                                      That said, I do like the other pastries and cakes at Chantilly, particularly the cream puffs, the white sesame mousse cake, and the assortment of sables. I have not liked anything at Jin, however, and have no idea why they're so popular (possibly because they're in a cool location catering to clientele who think her stuff is something special?).

                                      1. re: hong_kong_foodie

                                        Hi hong_kong_foodie,

                                        Thanks for your thoughtful review of the 3 shops. :) OK, I'm glad it wasn't fading memory when I thought the Macarons at Chantilly were a bit too chewy as well. I'll have to try Paulette (when I hang out with my Sweets Hounds :). Thanks.

                                    3. re: Nicole

                                      Macaron update: I tried them again this weekend and they were surprisingly great! Chocolate macaron was very good, mocha macaron was amazing...really moist, really rich flavor. I've tried their macarons a few times previously, and they've never been nearly this good before. Hopefully this is a permanent change, and hopefully it extends to other flavors as well.

                                      Unfortunately they were already out of cream puffs by 1:30 on a Saturday, but the Othello was great as always. Also tried their chocolate mousse dome with raspberry (very good) and the orange and mocha pastry (not as good as their other offerings, wouldn't get this one again).

                                      1. re: Nicole

                                        Hi Nicole,

                                        Thanks for the update! :) It's really encouraging to hear that Patisserie Chantilly is improving on items that needed it. I'll have to try their Macarons next time.

                                        I finally tried the Mont Blanc last time and it was quite delicious. Wonderful Kuri (Chestnut) flavors, subtle and delicious. :) Thanks.

                                    4. re: ristretto

                                      Hi ristretto and kainzero,

                                      Ah thanks. $60 for a quarter sheet (serving over 20 people) isn't bad at all; especially from Chef Nojima. I can't wait to try one the next time I need a cake.

                          2. One piece of advice on Chantilly--although they close at 7:30, my experience has been that they run out of the cream puffs way earlier than that on the weekend. It's hard to say when the cream puff "cut off" is, but I generally haven't been able to get them in the late afternoon or early evening on a Sat or Sun, and I can always get them around lunch-time.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Nicole

                              Thank you for the heads-up, Nicole. The one (unfortunate) time I popped into Chantilly was a few minutes before closing on a weekend -- it was completely unplanned (obviously), and I felt really lame for my lame timing, which led to my not buying a single thing (they were nearly out of everything, let alone their puffs). It's good to have outside confirmation NEVER to do that again!

                              1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                Yes, it's so disappointing to go there, all excited for cream puff goodness, only to be DENIED. I've learned the hard way, too. :) Hope you can make it there in the future!

                              2. re: Nicole

                                Hi Nicole,

                                That is *great* advice; sorry I forgot to include it in my original post!

                                To add to it: Bonjour ran out of their wonderful Choux a la Creme (we got the last one) during our first visit around ~3:00 p.m. on a Sunday.

                                Be sure to call ahead to both places to make sure they have it, or to reserve some ahead of time.

                              3. I haven't tried either of these places. However, I like the cream puffs at Beard Papa's and don't agree with the negative comments about them. I'm not claiming that these two places aren't better; I just think the ones at Beard Papa's are very good. That's my opinion and I'm sticking with it. :)

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: nsxtasy

                                  I did say above:

                                  "My first Japanese style cream puffs were at Beard Papa's and I did like them until Bulavinaka's posts had me traveling long and far to Lomita for Patisserie Chantilly's cream puffs. I have never returned to a Beard Papa shop!"

                                  It's not that BP is bad nsxtasy, just that Patisserie Chantilly is sooooo much better! Lighter, fresher flavors etc. Try it and let us know if you dissagree!

                                  1. re: sel

                                    Well said, sel. I too started out with Beard Papa's cream puffs and definitely enjoyed them...but then once you eat a Chantilly cream puff and you know just how good a cream puff can be, there is no turning back!

                                    1. re: Nicole

                                      My first cream puff was a Beard Papa, and though I also had no basis for comparison, I did not like it at all. I found the puff to be tasteless, heavy, and dry and the cream was really bland and actually a little bit heavy and gloppy/gross. Maybe it was psychology working against me, since I tried this at the height of the southern California hype. But I tried my first Pinkberry at the height of its hype, too, and though I didn't think all the excitement was warranted, I could appreciate the inherent tastiness of Pinkberry's yogurt. Maybe Beard Papa had an off day (this was at the Mitsuwa in Gardena).

                                      1. re: buttermarblepopcorn

                                        Your first cream puff was a Beard Papa??? I've been eating cream puffs (and eclairs, which are similar) for decades, and only ate my first Beard Papa cream puffs this year. Keep in mind that they just opened their first store here in Chicago a few months ago. But I also had one at the store in Pasadena (I was still hungry following a five-course dinner at the Dining Room at the Langham) and it was the same as the ones here. I like the Beard Papa cream puff because it's so light - the creme patissiere filling is apparently lightened during preparation by folding it with whipped cream (you can do this at home too) and the pate a choux shell is so light and crumbly, I've never been able to make pate a choux that light. And so delicious too!

                                        I'd like to try Chantilly and Bonjour next time I'm in town, whenever that is.

                                        Incidentally, it's ironic that one place is called Chantilly, since many bakeries sell cream puffs that are filled with "Chantilly cream" (sweetened whipped cream) which I find vastly inferior to those filled with creme patissiere (pastry cream, a form of custard).

                                  2. re: nsxtasy

                                    Hi nsxtasy,

                                    No worries. I'm glad you like Beard Papa's. :) sel summed it up nicely, so please let us know what you think of the Cream Puffs at Bonjour and Patisserie Chantilly the next time you're in the area. Thanks. :)

                                  3. Good to hear Bonjour has remained consistent. Grrr i always arrive either too early or too late. Need to make an extra effort next time.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Sgee

                                      Hi Sgee,

                                      Wow, I had no idea you could arrive too *early* for Bonjour's Choux a la Creme. That's good to know. What time did you show up where it was too early to get their Choux? (So I know never to show up that early... :) Thanks.

                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                        It must have been a off day, I was there around 9am and they racks were barely stocked.

                                    2. Oh how I long for the cream puffs of my youth delivered by the Helms Bakery man. They somehow injected their thick cream into their soft flakey brown mounds of yummy-ness----unlike present-day cream puffs that have their cream exposed.

                                      1. Okay, I made it to Bonjour French Pastry yesterday! It's rare that I disagree with exilekiss, but my conclusion was NOT a tie: husband and I both agreed that we prefer the cream puffs at Patisserie Chantilly, hands down. First, the puff itself is infinitely better at Chantilly. And it's not just a function of the fact that Chantilly fills them fresh...we have bought cream puffs at Chantilly and eaten them the next day, and they are still superior to the Bonjour puffs. The Chantilly puff just has this great toastiness to it that Bonjour lacks. Regarding the cream, Bonjour definitely did have creamier cream. That said, my husband still preferred the Chantilly cream, because he rather likes that it has a light, airy quality. I actually prefer the creaminess of Bonjour's cream, but I wished there were more of it. They filled their puffs a lot less than Chantilly, and in my opinion the puff to cream ratio was to high. Overall, husband and I both agreed that Bonjour makes a high quality cream puff that is leagues better than Beard Papa's, but we similarly had a clear preference for Chantilly over Bonjour. We also got two pastries, one featuring chestnut cream and one with chocolate mouse. Both were great, particularly the chocolate one. Very light, airy, and flavorful. That said, we still preferred the chestnut and chocolate pastries we've had at Chantilly. Like Chantilly, the staff at Bonjour were very nice, and eating there was an enjoyable experience. Basically, you can't go wrong with Bonjour, but we are going to continue to go to Chantilly for cream puffs and pastries.

                                        -----
                                        Patisserie Chantilly
                                        2383 Lomita Blvd., #104, Lomita, CA 90717

                                        Bonjour French Pastry
                                        18222 S Western Ave, Torrance, CA 90504

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Nicole

                                          I couldn't agree more with everything written by Nicole. The choux at Chantilly is infinitely superior IMHO. But I did enjoy the profiteroles at Bonjour!

                                          1. re: Nicole

                                            Hi Nicole,

                                            Very cool! :) I'm glad you got a chance to do a little Food Fight as well between the two. :) I definitely agree with you on the Puff between Bonjour and Chantilly. The Puff is definitely superior at Chantilly. I think for me, the lush creaminess that you noticed as well at Bonjour is what won me over on Bonjour's straight Choux a la Creme. But you bring up a great point: The Puff is a major part of the "Cream Puff", and in hindsight I should've given a little more weight to the Puff portion. But Bonjour's Cream was a real surprise (I wasn't expecting anything to be as good as Chantilly) and I think that's what made me appreciate Bonjour's version.

                                            But, I just stopped by Patisserie Chantilly this weekend and had another of their Black Sesame Choux and it's still *so* so great! (^_^) I brought a picky Dessert Hound with me (1st time visit) and they went bonkers over it as well! :) (And as noted above, if given the choice of any Cream Puff, I'd choose Patisserie Chantilly's Sesame Cream Puff easily. :)

                                            Thanks again for the great report. :)

                                            1. re: exilekiss

                                              It is fun to compare and contrast, and in the end, we are lucky to have 2 great Japanese-French bakeries in close proximity to each other. :)

                                          2. the week after you posted this I made a pilgrimage down to torrance to try these out. But it was late afternoon. I got to Bonjour and they were all sold out of choux a la creme. I tried one of their other pastries and it was really delicious, I went on to Chantilly and they were sold out of the chocolate and creme, but still had the sesame. This was fine by me as I wanted to try the sesame. The sesame was outstanding on every level. amazing flavor, great crunch, just a marvelous experience. I also tried the pear pastry they had and it was equally excellent.

                                            I went back today, this time much earlier and stopped at Bonjour first. They still had the choux and it is indeed excellent, the filling is rich without being cloying, full of flavor but creamy liked whipped cream with no real stickyness from overdoing the custard process. it was superb and definitely the best filling. The choux was tasty, richly yellow but also had absorbed a lot of liquid from the filling so it didn' t have that snap and contrast of crunch-crisp and filling that good cream puffs have.

                                            Then onto Chantilly. I wanted to buy all the pastries as well as the creme puffs but I restrained myself. Last time I'd gotten their excellent green tea, so this time I got the crema coffee. about six ounces of coffee this was the perfect amount, and really very deliicous--bonus for not serving it too hot, which is what one typically can expect from most pastry shops offering coffee. I also tried the chocolate and vanilla. Both cremes were very tasty on their own, the Chantilly Vanilla is more explicitly vanilla, there's flecks of vanilla bean in it, and it's definiitely a lighter and airier filling than Bonjour. It's also not as rich and complex a flavor experience.

                                            However where it shines is when the soft and mellow flavors combine with the crisp-crunch of the choux and the almost smoky soft and dark flavors of the choux. their choux is cooked about as much as it could be, with a deeply brown, dark crispy crust, and the dark flavors of the choux combined with the light flavors of the creme is both a fantastic contrast and a superb combination. The chocolate puff creme is better than the combination. I love chocolate and this had a subtle but strongly chocolate punch to the creme. I feel that other than however the creme is sweetened there is no other sweetening added to this. The chocolate stays away from the bitter and the flavor comes through clearly. But it doesn't provide the contrast with the puff than the vanilla provides, the dark flavors of the crust and the chocolate meld together into a delicious, but less startling taste experience. Overall, each of these puffs are better than the overall puff from bonjour, though the bonjour creme may be the best on its own, I'm not sure it would be as good or better than any of the chantilly cremes in a chantilly puff. and vice versa.

                                            1. Choux a la creme (chantilly) 9.5
                                            2. Sesame choux (chantilly - 9.0
                                            3. Choux a la chocolate (chantilly) 8.5
                                            4. Choux a la creme (bonjour) 8.5

                                            -----
                                            Bonjour Cafe
                                            24633 Del, Prado Dana Point, CA

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: jadekarrde

                                              Hi jadekarrde,

                                              Wonderful! :) Thank you for the extensive report back. :) I'm so glad you were able to conduct your own taste test and you had me smiling when you said you wanted to "buy all the pastries as well as the creme puffs" but restrained yourself; I feel the same way every time I walk into Patisserie Chantilly! :)

                                              I'm glad to hear you felt the same way about the Creme and Choux from both places. Bonjour has this amazing Creme for their Choux a la Creme, but in hindsight hearing from Nicole and you, I should've put a little more focus on the Puff itself (in which case I'd end up the same as the way you and Nicole rated it (Chantilly first). :)

                                              I can't wait to try Chantilly's Seasonal Kuri Choux (Chestnut Cream Puff). :)

                                              1. re: exilekiss

                                                when do they make that? I want one?

                                                Chantilly's creme puffs went over like gangbusters. I took some back to my friends and they all loved them, even after they'd sat in the fridge for six or seven hours, the puff was still crisp (because they cook it so brown, I presume). I had another sesame puff. I love the flavors of black sesame seed (I love putting black sesame on cooked spinach or kale or just over rice), and I think the black sesame creme is the best because it is such an unusual and wonderful experience. Which is to say, by themselves, I prefer the sesame creme to the vanilla creme, but I prefer the vanilla creme puff just ever so slightly to the sesame creme puff.

                                                Bonjour is still very good, though I forgot to mention it had too much powdered sugar on it, in my opinion.

                                                1. re: jadekarrde

                                                  Hi jadekarrde,

                                                  Their Limited Edition Kuri Choux is available during Autumn only. :( Usually ~end of Sept., Oct, Nov and part of Dec. Can't wait. :)