Sunday, May 11, 2008

Paris Baguette - Irvine

Food fact: Some of the best French bakeries in Orange County are run by Asians.

There's Japonaise Bakery in Tustin, whose custard-and-strawberry-stuffed croissants would make Escoffier weep. For baguettes with crusts as shatteringly crisp as potato chips, go to Little Saigon, where Vietnamese bakers have perfected the French loaf for use on their banh mi sandwiches. And at Irvine's Layer Cake Bakery, it's not Frenchmen, but two Indonesian sisters who make the macaroons*.

The newest is Paris Baguette, a South Korea-based boulangerie and patisserie that would rival those on the Champs-Elysées.

Where can you find it? Inside Zion, a Korean supermarket in Irvine; near its refrigerated jars of kimchi, of course!

Don't let its location fool you. Though this second Orange County outpost of the chain recently opened to very little fanfare and looks very much like the Vons supermarket bakery it replaced, closer inspection will reveal flaky croissants so perfectly symmetric it can be balanced on a toothpick and so crumbly, a bite will trigger an avalanche.

My best advice: if you bring it home, eat it over the sink.

Some croissants are violated by a hot dog rammed up its dough-hole ($1.80), their tops brushed with a sticky-sweet glaze that make them sparkle to a glossy gleam.

Another is drizzled with a tempting stream of chocolate ($1.70). Hidden underneath all those buttery layers is even more chocolate.

They also have a panini ($1.80) and a potato croquette ($1.60), which are spectacular, but aren't technically a panini nor a croquette.

In fact, the "panini" tastes more like a Hot Pocket crossed with a Pop Tart than a grilled-cheese sandwich. It's flat, filled with a thin-layer of cheese and salty bits of ham. The croquette (actually a savory orb of fried dough with a lightly-curried, mashed potato filling) is as fluffy as a goose-down pillow. And since it's really a donut, it'll grease your fingers to an oily shine.

Same goes for the sweet red bean donut ($1.10).

If you can picture it, think of you're average jelly-filled sugar-bomb; then subtract the jelly and replace it with a not-too-sweet paste of red bean. The result is a breakfast treat that won't cause you to crash within the hour.

And can Paris Baguette's baguettes stand up to those actually sold in the City of Light? I can't say, because first, I've never been to France; and second, I was too full to try them.

But what I can say is this: Who needs the French?!

Paris Baguette Bakery Cafe
(714)368-0404
4800 Irvine Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92620

*Fact-Check Update: Reader digkv has informed me that Layer Cake buys their macaroons from elsewhere.

THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Tracht's - Long Beach

19 Comments:

At 1:12 PM, Blogger dumplings said...

Elmo,

I'm glad you made a trip to Zion. I go here at least twice a week. My favorite is the corn/ham pastry + sweet rice panini with a cup of their organic coffee.

The whole cake at Paris Baguette is next on my list.

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger cynhsi said...

Have you tried the fried peanut butter squid that they make outside?

 
At 5:43 PM, Blogger digkv said...

Hey Elmo!

Great post once again. Just wanted you to know though, Layer Cake's macrons (if you're talking about the French Macarons) aren't made there. I think they told me that they buy them from someone else. Just a suggestion to them though, they should stop buying them since they were actually the worse macarons I've ever had. I love Layer Cake, and their delicious coconut cake, but those macarons, no thanks.

 
At 5:51 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

dumplings,

Thanks again for reminding me to try it! I think the sweet stuff is next on mine. Also, I spied a danish that had corn nibblets on top of it. CORN NIBBLETS!

Cynhsi,

Whaaaa?! Fried peanut butter squid?! This I gotta see (and taste). Is it next to the front door, near the kimbap?

Digkv,

Well that blows my bubble. I thought they made those macaroons! Thanks for the correction. I made a note of it.

As for the quality, I tasted one and it was chewy. But being that I haven't had many macaroons in my life, I didn't think anything of them.

The ones I had from Cafe Blanc were almost the same (I wonder if that where LCB buys them from).

 
At 6:58 PM, Blogger Chubbypanda said...

"Some croissants are violated by a hot dog rammed up its dough-hole..."

You know I like it hardcore. =D

 
At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I've shopped many times at Zion and have never purchased their bread. Sounds great! Do they have a Strawberry croissant that rivals Japonaise? I finally checked that bakery out and it's amazing! What's up with the pb squid though? Never heard of it and I'm Korean!

Fellow Northparker

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger christoofat said...

"Some croissants are violated by a hot dog rammed up its dough-hole..."

TOO funny!

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A foodie such as yourself needs to visit the city of light someday. I've been a few times and must say it really needs to be at the top of any culinary trip/adventure

 
At 7:44 PM, Blogger Diamond Dog said...

"Some croissants are violated by a hot dog rammed up its dough-hole" Awesome line!!!!!I didn't know you were such an "on the edge" kinda guy!

 
At 4:13 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

CP, christoofat, and Diamond Dog,

Is it wrong to have been waiting for the right opportunity to write that about those things? If it is, I don't want to be right! ;-)

Fellow Northparker,

Unfortunately Paris Baguette did not offer Japonaise's strawberry croissant. I do wish it did though. The lines at Japonaise are crazy these days!

Anonymous,

I think I would probably eat myself to death in Paris.

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger dumplings said...

Elmo,

Paris do offer strawberry croissants. Ask the bakery people about their baking schedule. If they have the fruit croissants (peach, raspberry, kiwi, strawberry, and assorted), they will put in the fridge counter next to the cashier.

By the way, to you all your readers, do not miss this event:

http://www.mitsuwa.com/event/eevent.php?e=32

 
At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elmo,

Dumplings is right. I tried the strawberry croissant today. The pastry is bigger, more expensive ($2.20 vs. $1.70?). The croissant itself is not as flaky and the strawberries are not as good but, the cream is almost identical which makes it definitely worth going back for more. Plus it's closer to us!

Fellow Northparker

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger Pepsi Monster said...

Hey Elmo,

Does this place have shaved ice? I love the ones in Buena Park and on Vermont Ave in K-town. Those were great. It's one of the few things I like about Paris Baguette.

 
At 1:25 AM, Anonymous White On Rice Couple said...

"Food fact: Some of the best French bakeries in Orange County are run by Asians." - We hail those wise words! Bravo! and we totally agree with you!

We were at a non-Asian run, fancy , schmancy bakery last week and paid $3.25 for a super crappy croissant! After that infuriating, wallet raping experience, we headed to our beloved Asian owned ones and got a kick butt croissant for $1.25! Your words really hit it on the spot for us!

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Marvin said...

Mmmm, dough-hole violated croissants. Seems strange at first, but I guess it's like a french corn dog.

 
At 10:40 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Dumplings and Fellow Northparker,

WOW! I had no idea they also do the strawberry and custard croissants. That's good news. But I'm sorry to hear they're not as good. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

BTW, my next post will hopefully be about the Mitsuwa event. I'm going today!

Pepsi,

Shoot, I didn't check if they had shaved ice. I think it would be awesome if they did. Summer is perfect for patbingsu!

WoRC,

If only everyone knew that places like Champagne French Bakery is overcharging! With food prices skyrocketing, people should do what they can to find bargains. These Asian bakeries is where to start.

Marvin,

Yep. Or fancy pigs in a blanket!

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger cynhsi said...

It's actually peanut butter roasted squid. It was on the outside left entrance. The man making it looked like he was operating a big George Foreman Grill. I enjoyed it. Try it next time you're there, although, I'm not sure when it operates. Maybe only on the weekends like the sweet potato man outside of Mitsuwa! (Another one of my favorites.)

 
At 1:00 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

cynhsi,

Thanks for the info. Peanut butter roasted squid sounds more sane...but equally delicious.

 
At 12:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't have shaved ice. They now post their baking schedule on the black-board in front of the store..(Did they read comments here?!)

Based on my Asian taste, their pastries don't taste as good as Japanese bakeries as in Tustin or Mitsuwa. Their cakes are pricier than JJ bakery. Because not selling by slice, I don't have a chance to try.

-MiMi

 

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