Thursday, December 23, 2010

Beard Papa's Cream Puffs

I don't remember when, or where, or from whom, that I first heard about Beard Papa's cream puffs. Oh how odd, just when I was typing that sentence I remember it was from my friend Evelyn (@eviechiu), who I met on Twitter. I was tweeting once that I was at Pacific Mall and she replied, saying that I should get some Beard Papa's cream puffs upstairs. I have never heard of them before that tweet.

According to their website, Beard Papa's is a "global sensation":

"Beard Papa's is a global sensation. This worldwide proprietor of what many have called the World's Best Cream Puffs has over 230 outlets in Japan and over 100 in the US, the UK, Australia, and throughout Asia including world-class cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu, Sydney, London, Singapore, and Tokyo, just to name a few.

Very impressive, right? So when Redflagdeals had a coupon for Beard Papa's ($26.45 worth of cream puffs for $10) I jumped at it and bought two coupons. Hmmm let's say I wish I've only bought one.

When I went to Beard Papa's at Pacific Mall several Saturdays ago around 5:30, there was a massive line-up.  I wasn't surprised since this location is still the only one in Toronto to date and the store is TINY. There were like 6 people working in that little square corner space, and like I always say, Chinese people love deals. Not only that, Chinese people are fascinated with Japan things. So when you put two and two together, one should not be surprised about line-ups.

As I was lining up, I looked at the prices of these puffs and man, are they pricey - almost $2.50 for one puff - glad I had my coupon!

I lined up for 20 minutes just to put my order in and afterwards, she told me it was going to be around a 1/2 hr wait - my heart sank. Sure enough, I saw a bunch of orders lined up before my sticky (orders were written on small post-it notes). So much waiting!!!  My thought at that moment was precisely "These better be some kick-ass puffs!"

Making full use of my time, I read the following sign that talks about why Beard Papa's puffs are so special. Basically they advertise the following:

1. They do not use any preservatives; 
2. The puffs are baked not fried;
3. Each puff has only 220 calories;
4. The shells are made of a proprietary double-layer of soft French "choux" and outside "pie crust" that are filled with a whipped-cream custard that takes two hours to prepare; and
5. The custard and whipped cream are combined just before the cream puffs are filled. 

    After reading that I wanted the cream puffs even more. But for the time being, I only had these fake display puffs to look at. 

    Only two people were working on filling the puffs with cream, and they were doing it very, very slowly and leisurely - all I can say is props to them for not stressing out and rushing.

    After an hour and 15 mins later, I left Pacific Mall with this box.

    This Redflagdeals coupon gave me 2 original vanilla puffs, 2 green tea puffs, 2 feature flavour puffs, 2 cheesecake sticks and 2 fondue chocolate cake. 

    Before I start letting you know what I think about the cream puffs, let us look at the picture below. The filling in the puffs in the picture looks pretty thick, right?  It seems to be slowly sliding out of the puff, note "slowly". The chocolate filling from the "Fondant au Chocolate" also seems to be pouring out, generating some a chocolate puddle at the front.

    To my disappointment, the items in my box did not match the pictures in that ad at all. The filling in that chocolate cake did not pour out like how it shows in the picture; in fact, there wasn't much chocolate filling and it stayed put in that dry chocolate shell. The cheesesticks were okay, nothing special. I definitely would not buy neither of these things at regular price (remember $2.98 for one chooclate cake and $1.98 for one cheesestick).

    On to the puffs. In contrast to the chocolate cake, the filling in the cream puffs were watery and thin, totally opposite of how the picture made it look like - so deceiving. Normally, if you follow my blog, you would expect a picture of the filling after I take a bite in it (instead of just a picture of the cream puff below). But once I took a bite, the filling was so watery that it poured out of my hand like a mini fountain, to the extent that I cannot eat it without a napkin and a plate in my hand (with my head extended out so I won't get my clothes dirty - can you imagine?). I was so disappointed.

    A fellow food blogger, kiki (visit her blog kiki's B.F.F), had a similar experience although not ALL of her cream puffs were watery and thin, she lucked out on a couple that had thicker filling. She managed to take some pics of her cream puffs.

    Watery & Thin - I actually think the filling in my puffs was even thinner than this.

    Photo Credit: kiki's B.F.F

    Thick - how it should be.

    Photo Credit: kiki's B.F.F

    As for the taste of the filling, I honestly cannot comment because it was just so watery, I couldn't tell if it tasted good or bad. Every two seconds I was wiping my mouth and/or my hands. Eating the puffs were stressful and not enjoyable at all. What I can say for sure is that the puff itself was really light, thin, and flaky; no complaints there.

    Can you blame me, after my experience, that I want someone to buy the second coupon off me? But then I think, if Beard Papa's cream puffs suck so much, they wouldn't be a "worldwide sensation" with so many locations around the world right? I'm hoping that maybe I got a bad batch of filling, or that this Pacific Mall location is relatively new and consistency may still be an issue for them, or its just my bad luck, or something. So here's my plan: wait another 6 months to use my second coupon (yay for no coupon expiry date!) and see if my second experience will be better than this one. 

    P.S: This Beard Papa's location also need more people that can work faster and not take their sweet-ass time. There, I said it.

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