New York Cream Puffs!

My brother, J, and I like to do quality brother/sister bonding in a very specific way. Her name is Bjork. You all know her. She’s crazy, she’s kooky, she’s an Icelandic pixie who wears swan dresses to the Oscars. Love her or hate her, she’s got moxie, and tons of talent. Heck, we’ve flown clear across the country to see her. This time around, we just took a quick ride on the train to the Big Apple. That is after he drove in from Ohio. So we made a weekend out of it. And a dining weekend, to boot.

When we arrived on Saturday, it was lunch time. And I knew just what I wanted. A cream puff. Yes, a cream puff. I’d heard about this elusive Japanese import on another blog. Where to find this delectable pastry? Beard Papa’s. Their mascot is a white bearded fisherman looking fellow’s head, puffing on a pipe. This particular Beard Papa’s had a Café Zaiya attached to it, which served fast Japanese food. It was on E. 41st, right by Bryant Park. On this little strip of “Library Way” there were several other Japanese businesses, some food, some not. Like a mini japan-town, or japan-half-a-block.

The food Café Zaiya served is all packaged, like bento boxes. They have many options, including some udon soups. I was more interested in the cream puffs, so I just went with a chicken katsu don bowl. It came with some chicken katsu over rice with the sauce. It was just ok. I also had an Honest Ade Limeade. Honestly, it needed more sugar. They make it that way on purpose, with only half the sugar, but really, they need to put a bit back into it. It was quite blah and disappointing. J got a salmon bento box and his was just ok too. He ate everything though, because that’s what he does. He shovels everything in sight. He’s also been to Japan many times, so he knows how good a bento box can really be. And these were only so-so.

On with the cream puffs! These little delights are prepared on the premises. They make the pastry first and leave it devoid of any cream. Then when you order, they fill it! Then sprinkle it with some powdered sugar. Oh my! The pastries themselves are very light and crispy. But not in a crunchy way. The cream is abundant, and you get some in every bite. We both loved it. We wanted to take many of them home with us. But we figured they wouldn’t do too well traveling for several hours in a non-refrigerated box. Oh sadness. I will simply have to wait for my next NYC trip or hope that a Bear Papa’s chain finds itself to Philadelphia. What we need is a Beard Papa’s and a Capogiro next to each other, I find an apartment above them, and never leave.

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