You read it here: it’s completely normal – commendable, even – to lose sleep over cravings for a loaf of just-baked sourdough coated in creamy, salted butter or rows of chunky, dark chocolate-chip cookies rising seductively in the oven. Baked goods are heavenly when done right, but how many bakeries here in Guangzhou actually know the difference between a bagel and a baguette? This month, we visited, tasted and ranked six new pastry shops in the city according to breadth of selection, quality and overall vibe. A ‘breattitude’ of four or higher definitely warrants a visit: knead we say more?
With all-day-dining options like fois gras lollipops (RMB36) and fried pork with fresh fennel and crab (RMB68) – plus award-winning pastry chef Raymond Lau behind the counter – Demi Deli has plenty to brag about.
Maybe our expectations were too high going in, but the ‘famous’ croissant – while it did have an impressively intricate center – was stiff and bland (similar to what you’d find at Olé).
We recommend the mango and taro pastry (RMB28), which, no matter how you attack it with a fork, manages to retain its layered form and tastes like sweet, crispy fireworks exploding gently in your mouth.
Demi Deli does a range of homemade cheesecakes and pies (RMB28-35), crumbly cookies (RMB1.5-2), muffins (RMB9), garlic bread (RMB6) and endless takes on the croissant sandwich (RMB9-22). The candy fruit mousse (RMB30), intended to taste like ‘childhood,’ is topped with gelatin and sweet like you just ate an entire bag of Halloween candy. Not for us.
This little cafe racks up the most points for its decor, which combines the sophistication of a chic coffee shop with the confidence of a New York diner.
Should you check it out? Sure – if you’re in the area.
Meet Your Matcha
Built to look like a wooden shrine, the first thing you’ll see inside Fujio (besides the Shinto warrior in the doorway) is a plethora of industrial ovens and a Japanese chef who oversees the production of over 20 different baked goods.
Step aside, plain butter croissant, and make way for the eye-catching matcha jam bun (RMB18). Though a daring invention, the bun is too heavy and lacks the right ratio of crumb and crust. The jam and almond croissant (RMB18), too, is a sight for sore eyes. Order it only if starving.
Hipsters will be happy to find the matcha muffin (RMB13), which brings a solid balance of sweetness and earthy, subtly bitter green tea flavor. The red bean bun (RMB13) is also a must-try: the dough is majestically soft and squishy, and there are plenty of red beans in the filling.
Pros aside, we would have loved to see more traditional ingredients like black sesame, sweet potato and ginger – or better still, titillating Japanese treats like fluffy cheesecakes, daifukumochi or yamazaki-flavored crepes. Oh, and girls in kimonos, beckoning us into this sanctuary of baked goods.
Cottage of Cakes
Modestly tucked behind Duo on Jianshe Liu Malu, KK Bakery’s second branch is housed in a quaint red cottage adorned with arched windows and a picket fence.
Inside, murals of enchanted gardens and Greek shores enliven each room, making an average glass of fresh cucumber and pear juice (RMB25) taste exotic. But we’re not here for cool beverages and espresso drinks (RMB15-22) – we’re here for carbs. KK Bakery is perhaps best known for its custom cakes (RMB200 and up), which can be designed after any photo you bring in and come in flavors like New York style cheesecake, blueberry cream and dark chocolate mousse.
KK’s loaves – French village, walnut and raisin, oat and Bavarian rye (all RMB18) – must weigh five pounds each, and its buttery croissants (our new favorite in Guangzhou, RMB12-15) are each the size of an American football. Desserts come in curious flavors and shapes, like the durian cheesecake (order only if you love everything about durian, RMB8) and raspberry ball (fruity mousse with a slightly soggy graham cracker crust, RMB8) and the more normal fudge brownie (RMB8).
Nutshell: the ambiance is awesome but selection limited – unless you’re in the market for a birthday cake.
The Everything Bagel
Located directly across from the competition (Demi Deli) in the basement of the IFC, Tous les Jours instantly wows customers with a display of home-style bagel sandwiches (RMB20) stacked with five layers of cheese, lettuce, tomato and meat and sauce. It’s one of the few places (outside of Feel More) that sell proper bagels in Guangzhou, and when we visit, all but one variety (cranberry bagel, RMB7) is sold out.
The cafe – with its transparent compartments housing different styles of pastries, breads and cakes – resembles a typical Chinese bakery, and it’s easy to feel skeptical about the quality of the goods. Aside from its failed attempt at donuts (RMB8), however, this place has mad baking game.
Fluffy on the outside, gooey on the inside and with just the right amount of black tea flavor to offset excess sweetness, the black tea European bread (RMB28) is some of the best coffee cake we’ve tried in China.
The classic walnut pie (RMB26), homemade yogurt (RMB18) and freshly squeezed juices (RMB28) are all must-tries. Tous les Jours also has a spacious, slightly hidden seating area in the back so you can stop in for lunch and (probably) find a free table. Verdict? Go.
Bread is Life
If you’re looking for Paper Stone’s scissors, don’t bother: they’ve been replaced by sharp knives ready to slice freshly baked baguettes (RMB28) filled with dried fruit, nuts and seeds and focaccia topped with juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, onions and cheese.
With a whopping selection of pastries, sliced breads with fillings like Swiss milk, pumpkin and raisins, and everything in between, Paper Stone Bakery is superbly welcoming (if you can elbow your way through the crowds).
Signs list the shop’s endless bold ingredients, a cross between European variants and Asian favorites. For something sweet yet savory, try the coconut pineapple Danish cup (RMB24). Resembling a lamington, it’s made from a croissant base and topped with fresh custard and torched pineapple triangles.
Cranberry and milk buns, caramel custard cream baguettes, tri-cheese rice buns and floss pork buns highlight the bakery’s creative side. So swing by on your next visit to Parc Central and pick up a bunch of these baked indulgences: they’re well worth an extra hour at the gym.
Italian to the Core
A highly awaited coffee shop and bakery by Caffe Mondo, Dolcetto is prominently situated on the ground floor of the Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou. Gleaming with immaculate displays of macaroons, Danishes, sandwiches and floor-to-ceiling shelves of Illy coffee, olive oil and wine, it’s the kind of cafe you’ll want to dress up for (so not quite hangover material).
The selection alone is impressive: more than 60 different pastries, breads, cakes and sandwiches are baked daily and can be grabbed on the go, including sour cream donuts (RMB18), beer sourdough bread (RMB25), potato rosemary bread (RMB25), focaccia (RMB18), banana chocolate cake (RMB198) and strawberry shortcake (RMB200).
If that doesn’t get your stomach rumbling, the sandwiches (already the talk of the town) will. Our recommendations? The breakfast ciabatta with bacon, egg, tomato, rocket and onion jam (RMB38) served steaming hot and oozing with rich fillings. The bread is soft but not soggy, even after being doused in dressing. For a peppy, appetizing lunch, the Caprese focaccia topped with pesto, rocket, sliced tomato and imported mozzarella cheese (RMB48) is to die for.
Seats fill up about two hours after Dolcetto opens at 7.30am, so if you’re planning a date with the laptop, be sure to head over early!
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