Prior to visiting Cream Pan - a charming, homely Japanese Bakery tucked in a quiet neighborhood - I had been wondering where one might get those adorable, delicious baked goods such as Curry Pan (“Pan” means “Bread” in Japanese), Cream Pan, Melon Pan, etc., around L.A.
Thanks for the reminder from @ipsedixit, I stopped by Cream Pan and brought along my friend from Tokyo (who works in the area), eager to see how their Japanese baked goods might turn out.
Cream Pan Bakery & Cafe is the creation of Baker-Owner Yoshi Inada, who learned the craft in Osaka, Japan (according to the manager), before moving to the U.S. We had originally wanted to just sample the namesake Cream Pan (Cream-Filled Bread/Bun), to try to do a bang-bang with other restaurants recommended by @OCSteve @JRSD and others, but then we saw this:
And 45 minutes later, we were too full to go try anything else. Darn you @ipsedixit!
One positive about Cream Pan is that they use Butter and avoid Partially-Hydrogenated Oils (which is what plagues many Asian bakeries).
Seeing the plain Croissant, I had to order one, to see how it compared to others I’ve tried. Sadly, the Croissant is their weak link: It’s dryish, barely crisped on the outside, and more bready / soft than I’d like. There’s a Butter taste, but nothing like the best ones in L.A. or S.F.'s Arsicault.
This was much better! Crisped, crunchy exterior, wonderful Almond filling and Toasted Almonds on top. It doesn’t topple the great ones at Chaumont or Tartine (on our 2nd visit), but it was very good and I’d be glad to have it again if I’m in the area.
Curry Pan (Curry Bread):
My friend was so happy to see Curry Pan baked fresh here, it was something he hadn’t had since Tokyo. This was a light, flaky, savory baked Bread, with their Housemade Curry within. This was delicious! A touch salty perhaps, but then again we ate this at 7:00 a.m., so maybe my taste buds weren’t awake yet. But I really liked it (far better than the Curry Pan at Curry House).
Melon Pan (Melon Bread):
This funny looking baked good was another item my friend got super excited about. I’ve never seen Melon Pan offered in L.A. before, but in Tokyo, it was something he’d get after school regularly so it was nostalgic. This was OK. It’s slightly crusted, a light sweetness that sort of evokes “Melon,” but it’s not really filled with, say, chunks of Melon Fruit or anything.
@ipsedixit recommended their Kinako Donut which was quite tasty. I loved the Kinako (Toasted Soybean Powder) on the exterior, the light, thin Fried Dough which made it a whole / round “Donut” I suppose. The filling took me by surprise, though, Anko (Sweet Red Bean), which I’m not that fond of. But even with that non-favorite filling it was delicious.
Boston Cream Donut:
Their Boston Cream Donut was delicious as well: A nice Dark Chocolate shell, and a Custard filling.
Cream Pan (Cream Bread):
Then we got to their namesake item: Cream Pan (Cream Bread). It looks really basic, but then you take a bite…
The soft, fluffy exterior yields quickly to this velvety, luscious, ridiculously amazing Cream center (which tastes like a really gorgeous Custard).
This was SO GOOD!
My friend loved it so much, he bought another immediately to take back.
Surely we were done at this point? Nope. We just had to see this during our checkout:
Nikuman (Steamed Pork Bun):
Woo! This reminded me of the Konbini (Convenience Stores) in Japan, and my Tokyo friend was even happier.
These Handmade Nikuman (Steamed Pork Buns) from Inada-san are soft, fluffy, airy and the Marinated Ground Pork & Onion filling is so addictive! It’s got a deep, wonderful seasoning and it’s balanced (not too salty). This was wonderful!
We were stuffed and it only ended up being roughly $9 per person total (including tax & tip).
Cream Pan Bakery & Cafe is a cute little Japanese Bakery that’s making some rather standout items, which aren’t that easily found around here. I’d be glad to return and get more of their amazing Cream Pan, the awesome Handmade Nikuman (Steamed Pork Buns) and the Curry Pan and Almond Croissant. And there are a bunch of other items I still need to try.
Cream Pan Bakery & Cafe
602 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
Tel: (714) 665-8239