In a slight contrast from my usual restaurant reviews, this post will be a review about a food stall. And seeing that it’s Movember (excuse me while I scratch my uncomfortably stubbly/whiskery face), it’s only apropos to talk about a little place called Beard Papa’s.
To me, Beard Papa’s is interesting. It’s an international franchise, started in Japan at
the turn of the millenium, that specializes mostly on various kinds of pastry-based desserts. This is why I find the name amusing (and confusing). Call me exacting, but if I were forced to come up with a name for a snack chain (poised to become a worldwide one, no less!) whose primary serving are choux pastries filled with various flavours of custard filling, I don’t think that my dad’s facial stubbles would be the first thing that comes to mine. The people who came up with this name must’ve been the ones that named that vegetable “eggplant” and that fruit “grapefruit”.
Then again, the founders (and presumably namers) of Beard Papa’s are most likely millionaires and I’m writing articles for free here, so really, I don’t think I’m in much of a position to point fingers here.
Personally unappealing name aside, Beard Papa is an international phenomenon, and I
remember seeing it many times in the wonderful Bugis Junction mall in Singapore, where I’ve spent countless hours wandering, shopping, and eating. The chain is relatively new in Toronto, and its only location so far is in the second floor of Pacific Mall (duh). It’s shoehorned into the corner of the older, messier food court, and as such doesn’t have its own dedicated seats. WW and I ended up just sitting at the food court chairs, while we sipped some bubble tea on the side.
We decided on ordering the green tea puff, since it seems to be the safest bet outside of plain ol’ vanilla, and watched as the somewhat indifferent attendant filled an empty pastry with what looked like green toothpaste from a large container. A few sprinkles of green powdered sugar later, we were ready to give this thing a try and see what the hype is all about.
The first thing you’ll feel when you bite into one of these things is that the filling will ooze out or slightly explode in your mouth – depending on the ferocity of your chomp. This is a great start as I always love exciting desserts, and the messier the better. However this promising beginning gave way to bland, extremely subtle green tea flavours that permeate the taste buds intermittently between mouthfuls of so-so pastry. There was no real discernible kick to the flavour, and I almost wished that it was a little too sweet because at least then we’d have something to talk about. As is, this really felt like eating tasteless paste. There were hints of the bitter taste of green tea, but for the most part it really was just plain ooze inside a plain pastry. The powdered sugar did give a nice sweet kick, but let’s be honest, it’s the filling that’s the star of the show. The sugar dust shouldn’t be the one getting the attention. It’s kind of like watching an episode of Dexter but realizing that the best character of the segment was Masuka.
So overall, it was definitely not bad (it didn’t taste offensive, or feel like it’s stale, or overdone, or anything like that), but it’s nothing spectacular. I’m curious to try this snack in Singapore, as flavours are usually much stronger there, and discover whether this bland taste was a conscious choice for the cautious tastebuds of Canadians, or whether subtlety is the rule rather than the exception.
Still, worth a try for those who are curious, or those who have seen this chain abroad. It’s definitely different, and that’s something at least.
–Final verdict: Boleh Makan!
4300 Steeles Ave E
Unit 9 & 10 (Fl 2)
Markham, ON L3R 0Y5