Beard Papa’s, a Japanese bakery claiming to have the “world’s best cream puffs” with a customize-your-own concept, opened its doors on Wisconsin Avenue earlier this month. With over 100 locations worldwide, the successful franchise that started in Japan in 1999 is celebrating its tenth year in the United States. With a variety of flavors and combinations, Beard Papa’s legendary cream puffs definitely live up to their prestigious title.
Beard Papa’s offers a wide array of pastries along with three choices of filling flavors. The pastries include cream puffs, smaller cream puffs, dulce de leche drizzled cream puffs and Paris-Brests. The classic filling flavors are vanilla and chocolate, along with a varying flavor of the week.
Each beautiful cream puff is meticulously filled and sprinkled with a delicate cloud of powdered sugar on top for a mouth-watering and aesthetically pleasing end product.
The must-have at Beard Papa’s is the dulce de leche cream puff with vanilla cream filling. The cream puff is the size of a palm of a hand and is elegantly drizzled with dulce de leche, a sweet caramel sauce. Each bite of the pastry is met with an explosion of a smooth, thick vanilla cream with a velvety texture. While the outside of the cream puff is crisp and golden brown, it has a surprisingly fluffy interior. The buttery outer shell perfectly balances the sweeter vanilla filling. The dulce de leche drizzle ties the entire pastry together, making for an exciting combination of flavors.
Next, we tried the Paris-Brest with chocolate cream filling. Beard Papa’s Paris-Brest has the consistency of both an American donut and a Spanish churro. As I bit into this golden pastry, the rich chocolate cream gushed out. The Paris-Brest is flakier than the traditional cream puff, yet it is still moist and soft on the interior. The chocolate cream has a richer flavor than the sugary vanilla, but the flavor is not too overwhelming. The rich and smooth chocolate filling adds tremendous flavor to the crunchy, buttery pastry.
The major disappointment of Beard Papa’s was the filling-of-the-week flavor: berry. The berry cream simply fell flat compared to the standards set by the other desserts. We tasted a smaller cream puff with berry filling topped with powdered sugar. The berry cream was sweet and fruity, as promised, and exuded both a yogurt-like flavor and consistency. However, it did not mesh well with the fluffy cream puff and was almost too sweet.
Another aspect on which the eatery could improve is its setup. The entrance to Beard Papa’s bakery opens with cheery, bright yellow walls. While the color scheme is welcoming, the environment of the bakery is not conducive to sitting down and enjoying a cup of coffee or cream puff, as the lighting and environment are almost cafeteria-like. There is limited seating, and therefore no space to enjoy the delectable desserts.
While the ambience was not the best, the service was excellent. Although we were initially overwhelmed by the new concept and the plentiful choices, the employee was patient and helpful as we mulled through the menu. He explained how the process worked and was patient as we deliberated between the delicious options. When we were unsure which creams to pick, he offered samples of each flavor and he took the time to generously fill our pastries with the thick cream before carefully placing them in boxes so they would not get ruined. The price of the cream puffs is also extremely reasonable. An original cream puff is $3, and five mini puffs are $4.75.
Due to its proximity to campus, fair prices and mouth-watering cream puffs, Beard Papa’s will surely become a new sweet spot among students.