Published on October 10th, 2005 | by Greg0
The Puffy, Creamy Empire
Beard Papa- sounds like a Smurf, or maybe a punk band! Actually, it’s a Japanese chain with only one real product: creme puffs.
If it sounds weird, it is. From the weirdly Hemingwayesque logo to the strange assembly line that each choux pastry goes through, Beard Papa nonetheless manages to make a creme puff that puts all others to shame- and with more than $190 million worth sold each year, they had better.
They’ve built their reputation on freshness, making creme puffs the way Japanese make sushi- meant to be eaten immediately, no preservatives, served cold. Apparently, recently opened outlets in NY and LA have inspired Krispy Kreme-like devotion, with lines wrapping around blocks and people waiting hours.
Truly Obscure didn’t have to wait that long, but Beard Papa’s first outlet in Honolulu, which just opened last week, is very popular. Around a dozen customers were waiting, and since each puff is hand-assembled and each person wanted a dozen or more it can take a while.
It’s worth it though- and worth the $1.25 for original flavor (vanilla), or $1.45 for special flavors (chocolate on the times when we went, but apparently flavors rotate and include green tea and various fruits). The puffs we tried were consistently excellent. A light crispy shell with two layers, an appropriate amount of custard filling, and a light dust of powdered sugar or chocolate to add some sweetness. At least one of the reviewers typically hated creme puffs, and thought Beard Papa’s were divine. And we’re certain they beat out those from Omaha Steaks (no joke), who apparently will deliver creme puffs along with your chunks of beef.
Unfortunately, you can’t order online, can’t have them delivered, and can’t call ahead- yet. And with only two flavors available at a time, you may miss your favorite when it’s not there. But ultimately Beard Papa does one thing, and does it exceedingly well.