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Phoenix Bakery [Los Angeles]

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latindancer Apr 28, 2013 03:14 PM

Today I had the need to order a birthday cake for someone special. Living on the Westside I have a few choices that definitely live up to the hype they've created. I've also have found myself, lately, feeling that some of the cakes I've ordered are just a little too sweet for my taste.
I decided to drive the distance to one of my old favorites....Phoenix Bakery in the heart of a bustling and busy Chinatown.
The service is wonderful, the young lady behind the counter was delightful and helpful and that cake...wow. The light, yet slightly dense spongecake with whipped cream and strawberries. It does not get better.
Does anyone else love this place like I do?

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  1. g
    Galen Apr 28, 2013 03:25 PM

    My go to place for birthday cakes. I'm Chinese and most Chinese like cakes that aren't too sweet. The whipped cream is great. Seems the next generation of kids took over the bakery. They're good kids.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Galen
      l
      latindancer Apr 28, 2013 09:39 PM

      <They're good kids>

      They sure are :). It seems that the popular cake/cupcake bakeries on the Westside feel the need to overly sweeten the cake and it, to me anyway, overpowers the taste.
      Thankfully there's Phoenix Bakery.

    2. s
      Sam D. Apr 28, 2013 05:04 PM

      I have been a big fan of the Phoenix Bakery for decades. The Ruby Bakery in Eagle Rock has similar offerings and is also excellent.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Sam D.
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        latindancer Apr 28, 2013 09:40 PM

        I've heard good things about Ruby Bakery. When I'm in the area I'll give it a try. Thanks.

        1. re: Sam D.
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          Galen Apr 29, 2013 04:28 PM

          The owners of Ruby Bakery are my cousins. I should be rooting for them, but can't, since I've never tried their goods :( You know who can give Phoenix Bakery a run for their money as far as not too sweet and great whipped cream: King Hawaiians' guava cake!

          1. re: Sam D.
            MissBubbles Apr 30, 2013 02:13 PM

            The Ruby Bakery has a very similar cake that I love. Their cupcakes are pretty good too.

            1. re: MissBubbles
              g
              Galen Apr 30, 2013 07:51 PM

              Whoops, I have tried Ruby Bakery before. They brought a cake to a banquet we had. It was whipped cream and mango and delicious. It was similar to Phoenix.

            2. re: Sam D.
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              cujo May 23, 2013 11:20 AM

              Phoenix is definitely superior to Ruby. But if you happen to be in Eagle Rock, you could do a lot worse than Ruby Bakery.

            3. c
              CLowe Apr 28, 2013 08:42 PM

              I feel like my friends who enjoy Phoenix also really like Angel Maid Bakery on the westside. Ever tried their goods, latin?

              19 Replies
              1. re: CLowe
                l
                latindancer Apr 28, 2013 09:46 PM

                You know, I think it's one of the only bakeries I *haven't* given a try.
                I'm always on the lookout for cakes for special occasions.
                I'll have to make it a point to try it.
                I've also heard their strawberry shortcake is excellent.
                Thanks, CLowe, for the recommendation! Have you tried anything there?

                1. re: latindancer
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                  Feed_me Apr 29, 2013 03:58 PM

                  It's been ages since I've had one of those whipped cream and strawberry cakes from Phoenix Bakery, but I recall they were very lightly sweetened. If memory serves, even less sweet than the cakes I've gotten/eaten from Angel Maid. Angel Maid's cakes are not that sweet, but I recall the Phoenix Bakery cake as being even less sweet. The only things I can recall that are about Phoenix Bakery sweet at Angel Maid are the "banana roll" and the large cream puffs. The banana roll is a thin layer of yellow cake cut across the layer (so it's a circle) with whipped cream and a fresh banana inside. It's closed and wrapped in plastic wrap. The cream puff is a nice sized one with whipped cream as the filling and some powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Both are lightly sweet.

                  1. re: latindancer
                    c
                    CLowe Apr 29, 2013 04:10 PM

                    I've had a few slices at birthday parties and I've been impressed. People who like less sweet goodies tend to be very happy with the product, my husband included. He always prefers this type of cake to others.

                    I'm a "the sweeter the better" type dessert person usually -- cheesecake from Sweet Lady Jane is my most serious weakness. I still like AM cake, though!

                    1. re: CLowe
                      l
                      latindancer Apr 30, 2013 08:30 AM

                      I love SLJ for their Princess Cake and the divine cheesecake and their pies :).
                      I also love Susiecakes for their Celebration Cake and Coconut Cake.
                      This last time, when looking for a birthday cake, I had a taste of both before ordering and it was so sweet (I don't remember it ever being that sweet) I just said 'thanks' and walked out the door. The place is always packed and I've been a big follower but not this time. Maybe my palate is changing, who knows.

                    2. re: latindancer
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                      ilysla May 23, 2013 11:29 AM

                      Have you tried Pink Orchid (Persian) in Westwood or Stolinchnaya (Russian) in WeHo? While their pastries are sweeter than Chinese ones, they're considerably less sweet than other stuff you'll find on the westside. And Pink Orchid pastries are pretty inexpensive (only had Stolinchnaya when someone from work brought it, so I can't comment on the price).

                      1. re: ilysla
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                        bulavinaka May 23, 2013 11:35 AM

                        I've had Pink Orchid quite a few times. I personally prefer their Persian baked goods (of course). Their other items are okay in my book, but I tend to seek out similar items elsewhere.

                        1. re: bulavinaka
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                          ilysla May 23, 2013 11:47 AM

                          I'm very partial to their honey cookies and their napoleons.

                          Where do you seek out similar items? (I'm assuming we're talking about the westside....)

                          1. re: ilysla
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                            bulavinaka May 23, 2013 12:13 PM

                            I've never had their honey cookies - thanks for the rec. Their napoleons are pretty good.

                            As big and relatively prosperous as the Westside is, I feel the number of good bakeries is lacking. Places like Emil's and Pink Orchid seem to offer a lot of goods, but maybe at the cost of being average on most. Belwood in Brentwood has solid iterations of the bakery standards in my book.

                            Caprice in Santa Monica has been very good over the years, but I haven't been in a while.

                            Jamaica's on Pico in West LA is one of my favorites for most things - if they offer it, I tend to really like it. I go here the most by far. Their case isn't very big, but I think their cakes and pastries are excellent.

                            1. re: bulavinaka
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                              cujo May 23, 2013 12:30 PM

                              I'm sad to say that Caprice has gone way down hill. The original owner/ baker is still there. He is a very kind and generous man. Unfortunately, he has lost the vision in one eye and the remaining one isn't all that good. I was there two months ago and bought six different items. All were dry or stale.
                              There are a few young men who work there and appear to be his apprentices. They were quite helpful, but knew little about pastries.

                              1. re: bulavinaka
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                                cujo May 23, 2013 12:33 PM

                                Is Emil's still as good as it was when they were across the street from Century City?

                                1. re: cujo
                                  b
                                  bulavinaka May 23, 2013 12:39 PM

                                  IMHO they are not. I went the other day and the place was empty. Many of the items in the case looked a little tired - had a hard time trying to pick something that looked good. I think this new location isn't good for them.

                                2. re: bulavinaka
                                  i
                                  ilysla May 23, 2013 12:40 PM

                                  Numerous things on the westside are lacking, but that's a different board entirely.... ::snort:: and ::sigh::

                                  I should probably warn you that I seem to be the only person that's crazy about the honey cookies of all the people that I've fed them to. Nobody's disliked them, but nobody else has said, "What are these?!"

                                  Have passed by Jamaica but never stopped in and have never heard of Emil's.... Some new places to try. =)

                                  1. re: ilysla
                                    b
                                    bulavinaka May 23, 2013 01:02 PM

                                    I think you can pass on Emil's. Jamaica's on the other hand...

                                    I'm guessing the honey cookies are very subtle in taste - just a hint of honey? If so, they could be epic?

                                    1. re: bulavinaka
                                      i
                                      ilysla May 23, 2013 01:58 PM

                                      Quite subtle. So subtle that I thought they were almond-flavored the first few times I had them. Around the third time I ordered them, I was like, "Are these made from almonds?" Confused look as an initial response from the staff and then, "Honey. Only honey." (well, there clearly is some flour there, too, no?)

                                      Epic? I don't know if I've ever actually had any sweets/pastry that's truly epic since I'm much more of a savory kind of guy. I don't know even know if I found the black sesame creme puffs from Jin epic, although I very much liked them.

                                      Low-key enjoyable is how I'd describe them.... =)

                                      1. re: ilysla
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                                        ilysla May 24, 2013 01:04 AM

                                        Meant Chantilly Patisserie, not Jin. Whoops.

                                        1. re: ilysla
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                                          bulavinaka May 24, 2013 06:26 AM

                                          Funny - I read it as Chantilly. I haven't been to Jin's new ops off of Slauson, but they're offering order-p/u of their goods from there until a suitable full-service location is found.

                        2. re: CLowe
                          c
                          cujo May 23, 2013 11:23 AM

                          Angel Maid is three times the price of Phoenix. I guess that's the cost of convenience, for those who don't want to leave the westside.

                          1. re: cujo
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                            bulavinaka May 23, 2013 11:32 AM

                            Kinda depends on how important and practical it is to transport one of their cakes from Chinatown to the Westside is too. These cakes don't hold up well when factoring in heat, vibration and potential shifting in a vehicle. I've had both - both are great for this type of cake. I'm an easy five minutes from Angel Maid and at least 25 minutes by freeways from Phoenix.

                            1. re: bulavinaka
                              g
                              Galen May 23, 2013 03:24 PM

                              Funny you mention transporting. I don't know why Phoenix doesn't supply a cake box that fits the cake. The ones they have does not allow you to shut the lid all the way because you'll smash the frosting.

                        3. n
                          nosh Apr 28, 2013 11:31 PM

                          I am not a cake lover. But I worked downtown, and I got excited when someone ordered one of those delicious strawberry whipped cream cakes from Phoenix. They also do tasty whipped-cream individual pastries as well. For those that don't know: towards the north side of Chinatown on the west side of Broadway, with a few devoted parking spots in front.

                          1. c
                            chewbacca Apr 29, 2013 03:41 PM

                            Count me in. I've been going there for over 20 years. Yummy fresh and light birthday cake. I looked for one in the valley last year but ended up driving to Chinatown....

                            1. j
                              Jelly71 Apr 29, 2013 04:27 PM

                              Wow, that's a blast from the past. When I was little, my grandparents lived in Lincoln Heights and the rest of the family was in El Sereno or Boyle Heights. We had those cakes at every single party. Now I want one, for old time's sake.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jelly71
                                l
                                latindancer Apr 30, 2013 08:34 AM

                                :).

                                I highly recommend you go get one then...for 'old time's sake'. Apparently they just keep making them and bringing them to the cold case all day long so ordering isn't really necessary I guess. Unless you'd need one larger than what's offered, like me.
                                They also have little squares of it prepared for a mid- day, spontaneous snack.

                              2. j
                                jencounter May 1, 2013 09:00 AM

                                I'm not much of a cake fan but that strawberry cake is amazing. My son has a birthday coming up, hmmm.....

                                1. Melanie Wong May 8, 2013 11:58 AM

                                  Whoa, haven't been to Phoenix Bakery since I was in grad school and that was a loooong time ago. Living in Northern California, we used to beg our LA relatives to bring us a type of fried pastry (we called 'em "butterflies" and I can't think of the Chinese name at the moment) and the almond cookies. But alas, neither were as good even then as my childhood memories, so I'm happy to hear that the cake's good.

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