2399 Telegraph Avenue (this location closed, various others open throughout the US)
I (M) was in Berkeley for an academic conference, and naturally decided to take advantage of some West Coast eats that we don’t have in the Midwest. One place L and I kept hearing about was Beard Papa’s, a Japanese creampuff outlet with locations all around the Pacific Rim and NYC/New Jersey. With their Berkeley location just opened, I knew I had to stop in for some tasty cream puffs after a long day of lectures.
For starters, the best thing about Beard Papa’s has to be its logo. The white bearded, yellow hatted, pipe-smoking Alaskan fisherman (?) makes little sense as a creampuff symbol, but maybe that’s why he works so well. Whatever the allusion is, it is definitely memorable (maybe his face looks like a creampuff? You be the judge.)
It was late in the day when I made it inside, and was concerned they wouldn’t have what I wanted – and I was right. The ordering process is pretty simple: pick a pastry type (regular, cookie, or eclair) and pick a filling (Belgian chocolate, vanilla, or coffee). The flavors change from week to week – these are the choices this location had on this particular day. Regardless, the cookie crust (my favorite!) was out, so I settled on regular pastry with chocolate insides.
My verdict on the worldwide craze that is Beard Papa’s? Just OK. I cannot say I have much to compare it to in terms of creampuffs, but the pastry tasted, well, like a pretty standard pastry crust with pretty good soft ice cream center. Not that there wasn’t enough – the puff was much larger than I expected (a relative deal for $2.49) and more or less exploded with chocolatey goodness when I bit into it. But I definitely was not blown away by the offerings – maybe it was just the growing pains of a new establishment? I would definitely try one again if the opportunity presented itself, but as of right now, I find it hard to legitimate the worldwide obsession around the puffs.