Warning: Japanese Cream Puffs to Take Over Seattle


For those of you not up on your Asian fast-food phenomena, Japanese cream puffs are the next bubble tea or Korean frozen yogurt: Each store that opens becomes a flash mob.

There's been some talk on the food blogs about the of Beard Papa cream puffs to Seattle, and it's looking like they're going to arrive within the month.

What is a Beard Papa cream puff, you ask, and how did it pick up so much buzz? Here's the corporation's origin story told in cartoon form, for those of you who also believe in the Easter Bunny. Here's a slightly more believable version. And here's what Beard Papa does to normally impatient Manhattanites.

I've been emailing back and forth with Joana Chong, who owns the Ricenroll chain of takeout sushi shops. She has secured the local franchise rights to open Beard Papa stands. The first one -- a test run, really, she writes -- will be located in a corner of her existing Ricenroll stand in Safeco Field. The goal is to start selling cream puffs during the game week of June 30, though she says it's a very soft opening, since the date has already been pushed back a few times so far.

The Safeco operation is really a practice for a much bigger store at Uwajimaya Village. Ken Louie, real estate manager for Uwaji Village, says that the Beard Papa stand will take over the old Cingular and Vorizon stalls, as well as a failed boba tea stand (see?) near the food court. They're still awaiting a building permit, so Chong is reticent to even estimate when the Uwaji store will open, but Louie, slightly more optimistic, hopes it will be ready to go by the end of July.

Have you ever had a Beard Papa cream puff? Any choux pastry, fresh out of the oven, has a mystical lightness to it that dissipates after only a few minutes. Some of Beard Papa's filling flavors taste more commercial than others (avoid the green tea, shown above), but every time I pass the San Francisco store when I'm visiting I find myself amid the mob, watching the Beard Pappettes work the pastry-cream pump to stuff warm puffs while I wait for my number to be called.

UPDATE: Chong emailed me a correction: Apparently, they won't be taking over the boba tea stalls. And also to share that the New York Times loves her Safeco stand.

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