Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paris Baguette: Leading Cause of Whiplash in Koreatown

In a small storefront, perched in an unassuming strip mall on a less trafficked stretch of Western Avenue in Koreatown, I would have never guessed that Paris Baguette is the #1 franchise bakery in Korea which has expanded its empire to 1700 locations in its home country, China and the US.  But thankfully its bakeries, at least the location in LA's own Koreatown, feels anything but corporate-cookie-cutter. 

Stepping into Paris Baguette gave me the same feeling I would as a kid in a candy store - if the candy was gourmet and made fresh from the best ingredients.  There were colorful, delectable creations both sweet and savory on self-serve shelves lining almost every wall and the center island in the shop - which must be the leading cause of whiplash in Ktown in people trying to take it all in at once.

Fruit-topped pastries jumped out at me first, but those are not unfamiliar to other bakeries in town - what makes Paris Baguette stand out are the more unique creations like the strawberry mocha cream bread.  Mocha cream bread is the most pillowy-soft chocolate-coffee flavored bread with raisins, slits filled with light buttercream and fresh strawberries then chocolate and powdered sugar drizzled/sprinkled over the whole thing - with the softness of what I would imagine a down pillow with spineless feathers would feel like. You would definitely have sweet dreams after trying this bread. 

They also have the classic puff pastry twist ("Feuillettee"), but instead of raisins, they have chocolate, green tea and black sesame flavors. I picked up 2 chocolate twists and immediately wished I had bought more, as soon as I tried them at home. 
Cool sounding items I did not get to on this visit, but I plan to on the next - are croquettes (2 for $3) which include a kimchi flavored one! Also need to try the Dorayaki - Japanese pancake sandwiches with a sweet bean paste center (favorite snack of my fav anime character as a kid - Doraemon!).  And bite-sized pancake pieces packaged with syrup dip!  Other offerings include milk custard buns, red bean buns and savory breads like their interpretation of a hot dog.

I did pick up one savory bread with asparagus and bacon - but I found it kind of dry and 'burnt' tasting, so not my fav. But I am biased towards sweet.

The best part (aside from taste and design?) - all the single serving breads in the store average only $1.20 to $1.60 each (the strawberry mocha bread is the exception and most expensive of course at $2.75 each)!
There are also beautiful whole and single-serving cakes ($25-$34 for whole cakes) in the refrigerated case, as well as original blended drinks at the coffee bar like ice blended green tea (which was a little too sweet for me, but I can't wait to try their other beverages).

PB also carries staple items like sliced bread, as well as cookies.

All this, AND they have a loyalty program!  Get your free Happy Points Card at any location with purchase, and 3% of your bill will be added to the card.  Accrue a total of $5 and you can redeem the card for the $5 discount off your purchase!

LOVE this place and think it's now tied for my new fav 'everyday' bakery in town (with Porto's!)

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 6.5 bites
Ambience - 5 stars
Service - 5 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $ (1 bite mark)
Probability of return visit - 100%

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Paris Baguette
125 N Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004
Ph: 323.467.0404

(Other locations in Downtown and Glendale, and on both coasts - see website for details)

Website: parisbaguetteusa.com
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