B. Patisserie vs. Starter Bakery Kouign amann
I'm in the midst of planning a bakery extravaganza during a short trip to NYC in late September, and during the course of that discussion some posters recommended the Kouign amann at B. Patisserie. I was just there, and didn't think it looked that great. I've had several from Starter Bakery, and think they're well worth the price.
So ... any thoughts on the merits of the Kouign amann at B. Patisserie vs. Starter Bakery? Do I need to make a return trip to the city?
If you're interested, the NYC thread is at
I like the Starter Bakery KA I get at Philz Coffee Larkin St location w/ a Mint Mojito Iced Coffee small $4. I like the chocolate KA $3.50 heated up, so tasty. It's easy to get to from Civic Center Bart just walk up a few blocks. Pic attached.
B. Patisserie is really a hike to get to, though they sell them at Four Barrel Valencia location, sold cold.
I stopped by B Patisserie to try out their Kouign-Amann, and found it disappointing (See photo 1). It's not much more than a croissant with a small degree of caramelization. I didn't get it hot out of the oven: I'm sure it's marginally better if you heat it up first. Compared to the Kouign-Amann from Starter Bakery, it's lighter and flakier.
It doesn't come close to the addictive qualities of the Kouign-Amann at Satura Cakes in Los Altos (photo 2), which is more flavorful, buttery, dense (without being gooey), and much more caramelized. The Satura cakes Kouign-Amann is also sold at Bitter+Sweet in Cupertino. Heating it up is essential, otherwise it feels like you're knawing on a stick of butter.
I do like a good kouign amann myself. Like cyssf, I was fortunate enough to share in that one-off special order made by Philippe of Patisserie Philippe. I've also tasted kouign amann in Britanny and Paris, (and Manila) long before I had any here. In my experience, kouign amann are supposed to be buttery and, though layered, rather dense.
Of the 3 versions I've had here, Patisserie Philippe's came closest to the French ones I've tried, followed by Starter Bakery's. B Patisserie's and the Manila kouign amann (made by a classically trained French chef) are both considerably lighter and crisper--more like especially rich, caramelized croissants.
In short, I'd say B Patisserie's (with its added advantages of a buttery-syrupy core and being fresh out of the oven) is easier to like. But when I want to indulge my nostalgia for long ago and far away, I'll go for Starter's version--unless I can get Philippe's.
I'm the original poster of the kouign search after returning from Brittany and looking for kouign in SF. To that end I tried making it myself, talked Phillippe at the old Phillippe Patisserie on Townsend into making a version which was scarfed up by chowhounds once I posted the date of the day he was making this special order. Phillippe warned me that the flour and of course butter were different in Brittany and for me to not get my hopes up. All of these attempts were not terribly successful. Then Starter Bakery and Belinda Leong started making it and I was going to the various popups and cafes to try them before B Patisserie opened up. Then I was able to sample her kouign again at B Patisserie once it opened. In my opinion Belinda Leong's version is the best but Starter's is definitely very good. La Boulange's version is awful per the last chowhound thread about kouign. We never saw chocolate or fruit filled kouign while we were in Brittany like they make here in SF. So that's my opinion and we tried kouign all over Brittany and now much of SF!
I think it was cyssf's thread that got me on my ka kick -- I've tried all the ones on offer in SF and a couple in Portland (found one in Vancouver even). My favourite is still the elusive hazelnut ka from Starter, followed by their plain. The b.patisserie one feels lighter to me, and has the advantage of being available if you're lucky straightish from the oven and still WARM.