99 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA
Growing up with a stay-at-home mom, our family had the benefit of eating very well. While my mother was very well versed in our native cuisine, she was also very adventurous and creative in trying new cuisines, as well as baking up new pastries. One of our favorites that she made were Cream Puffs. I had never had her version anywhere else – until I came across Beard Papa.
Beard Papa is a Japanese chain that focuses on one primary product – cream puffs. Contrary to many North American versions, the term cream does not actually refer to whipped cream, but a cream custard filling inside what is essentially a Pate a Choux. These “little pillows of heaven” come in a few different flavours: vanilla, chocolate, and a seasonal/weekly flavour that can include Caramel, Green Tea, Pumpkin, Coffee, or Strawberry. Located in 300 different locations around the world, chances are good that there is one near you!
Focusing primarily on the cream puff, you would think Beard Papa would do it well. A crisp on the outside, airily soft on the inside puff, filled with a delectable rich, creamy, flavour rich filling. Something so rich and delicious, you’d want to eat a dozen in one sitting. Well, you’d be right.
The vanilla bean at Beard Papa is easily my favorite. Forget the puffs – i’ll be honest, a Pate a Choux is an embarassingly easy thing to make. It’s all about the custard, and their custard is rich, creamy, and absolutely loaded with flavour. Eat them quickly, as the texture changes quite dramatically as it warms up. And eat a few – one is never quite enough! I find the chocolate to be a bit flat, and too creamy. I prefer a rich chocolate filling (think like a ganache). The seasonal ones are ok for a diversion, but for me, it’s vanilla all the way.
Let’s be honest – there’s nothing quite like mom’s cooking. It has a lot of memory and emotions tied up in it. So I can say there is nothing quite like my mom’s cream puffs. But if you can’t try those, go have a Beard Papa. They are really good. They MIGHT even be better than my mother’s, but I never suggested that!