85°C Bakery Café: Euro-Asian Fusion Pastries In Point Loma

by on June 21, 2018 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

85°C Bakery Café
Loma Square
at Rosecrans and Midway

by Bob Edwards

Up until a few weeks ago, the only Chinese pastries I’d ever tasted were at tea houses or “dim sum” palaces, huge restaurants where you can enjoy a brunch of fried or steamed noodle dumplings with savory fillings such as minced shrimp, pork, or vegetables. \

Dim sum parlors also usually have a few sweet buns that are baked or steamed and filled with sweetened bean paste.  The only beverages served are hot tea or, if the tea house also has a liquor license, cocktails. You can’t get coffee but you can slam bloody marys, mimosas. or Tsingtao beer to your heart’s content!

Since opening in February of this year in Loma Square, 85°C Bakery Cafe has been serving Asian-influenced pastries that are mostly quite different from dim sum. At this busy restaurant near Sprout’s Market you will find one company’s versions of classic European baked goods as well as unique Chinese/European/American/Japanese fusion treats.

85°C Bakery Café is one of over a thousand bakeries in the Taiwanese chain founded by Wu Cheng-Hsueh in 2003. The restaurant is a division of Gourmet Master Co. Ltd., a corporation licensed in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, so it’s no local mom and pop operation.

Almost 70% of their stores are in China and the Loma Square bakery is one of four in San Diego County. The store takes its name from its founder’s belief that 85 °C (185 °F) is the perfect temperature to serve coffee.

In the interest of science and to help you, dear readers, in your search for decadence, I made several visits to 85°C Bakery. Each meal consisted of classic western pastries (croissants and cinnamon rolls, for example) and some Asian/European pastries featuring pleasing but odd combinations of ingredients the likes of which I guarantee you will never find in any traditional European, American, or Chinese bakery.

Left to right: squid ink chicken tart, milk pudding bun, pork sung bun

I’m talking about taro swirls and Hawaiian chicken tarts, mango bread, and squid ink corn tarts! Then there’s the cheese dog pastry, which is like a giant “pig-in-a-blanket” baked with parsley, ketchup, and mayo!

Don’t freak out and avoid trying 85°C because some of the dishes might seem odd to you. There are plenty of items available for people with tastes more used to cinnamon twists than to pastries stuffed with red bean paste.

Hawaiian chicken tart

The chocolate croissant is pretty standard, similar to what you find in many North American coffee shops with flakey texture, chunks of chocolate, and a dusting of powdered sugar and sliced almonds. The cinnamon roll is as traditionally buttery and brown sugar laden as anything you’ll find at the Cinnabon at your local mall. They even have small loaves of multi-grain bread.

Garlic cheese bun (top) and spicy sausage

But it’s the Euro-Asian fusion items that I most enjoyed.

The squid ink tart is deliciously savory and not as weird as it sounds. The pastry shell is an unusual black color from the squid ink but its flavor is surprisingly neutral. The filling provides a rich umami taste with kernels of corn, moist diced chicken, and creamy cheese sauce making it a textural delight.

I also tried the taro swirl, a crisp on the outside, airy soft on the inside pastry that is stuffed with sweetened taro paste, kind of like a baked bun you might get at a dim sum parlor.

Cold case with assorted cakes

The Hawaiian chicken tart combines cheese, chicken, and pineapple, in a chewy pastry shell resulting in something that tastes like an Hawaiian pizza minus the ham and also without the guilt of committing sacrilege against the memories of traditionalist Neapolitan nonnas.

The spicy sausage is a baked disc of sweetened bread topped with cheese, tomato sauce, and a sausage of finely ground pork flecked with red pepper. This item was one of my favorites.

The restaurant has dozens of pastries that are filled with creamy sweet goodness, so if that’s your thing, you should try the milk pudding bun or the chocolate sponge roll.

Mocha bread

Not every item is a winner.

The mocha bread is too dry and its chocolate and walnut filling is too skimpy to offset the pastry’s dryness.

The pork sung bun, sweet bread dusted with sugar and shredded and powdered dried pork, is another dry one that promised much but delivered little.

In the beverage department 85°C Bakery Café offers all of the coffee drinks (such as espresso and cappuccino) that you can find in your neighborhood coffee shop as well as Chinese teas, boba drinks, juice, and smoothies.Their signature drink is iced sea salt coffee or tea. Each of these beverages is topped with a layer of salted whipped cream which makes for an interesting contrast between sweet and salty.

Taro swirl buns

Now for the bad news.

Only the multi-grain bread and a whole wheat mushroom bun are made with whole grains. Everything else uses refined white flour.

Loaves of multigrain bread

Every pastry sold at 85°C Bakery Café is either very sweet, very salty, or very both. Diabetics or people with cardiac or renal issues should proceed with caution.

But you know, sometimes (not too often!) you have to forget about healthy food and just get in touch with your bad self. When you do, I’d suggest you head on down to 85°C Bakery Café, order up a mess of it and ignore the guilt.

Whole wheat mushroom roll

If it makes you feel better, you can say you’re doing it in the interest of Sino-American friendship, even if the Taiwanese and our comrades in the People’s Republic don’t really get along so well.

Bacon cheese bun

Before you go, you should probably adjust your insulin dose and plan on eating an organic vegie salad for dinner to offset your refined food footprint. Don’t forget to brush your teeth before collapsing into the nap that inevitably occurs after that sugar buzz wears off!

85°C Bakery Café is located in Loma Square at Rosecrans and Midway, across the parking lot from Sprouts Market. Most of the pastries range in price from $1.50 to $3.00. There usually is ample parking.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bearded OBcean June 22, 2018 at 10:45 am

I’m not so sure I would refer to 85 degrees as eur-asian, even if everything isn’t strictly taiwanese.

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Bob Edwards June 22, 2018 at 12:09 pm

It’s hard to come up with an exact label for this cuisine, for sure. As I described in the article, some items are purely European, some are sorta Chinese, and others are a fusion of two or more cuisines. You find the same problem with labeling certain types of music. Did Frank Zappa play rock, jazz, jazz-rock fusion, or modern classical music? At one time or another any of those labels would have fit.

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dickie June 23, 2018 at 9:52 am

Wow, sounds stimulating and truly unique . . . looking forward to trying this place on our visit to OB later in July .

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Amanda June 28, 2018 at 2:25 pm

The best items here are the simplest: the plain looking Brioche Loaf and the Coffee Creme Brulee Cup in the case – ten stars!!! It’s tempting to pick up one of the fancier looking items, but they never come close the the 2 afformentioned delights. One other fave is the Snow Bread – filled with a sort of pasty cream reminiscent of cannoli creme. That + coffee = heaven.

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