Long Beach Needs This is a series that addresses two things: Long Beach’s infamous “Manhattanitis,” where our people tend to stick to all-things-Long-Beach while rarely stepping outside and two, highlights great accomplishments, spaces, restaurants, and ideas fostered by our worldly neighbors. It is meant to encourage exploration—from taking a step into the the city next door to visiting other parts of the world—and look at how they successfully implement things, create great food and community, or just view life through a different lens. To see all the Long Beach Needs This posts, click here.
Photos by Brian Addison.
When it comes to Taiwanese food, one doesn’t typically think of coffee and pastries so buttery and so perfect that one would think it was made by either a Frenchman or Dane.
Enter Taiwan-based bakery and coffeeshop 85°C, which began in Bao-Ping of Taipei County in July of 2004. Baker and entrepreneur Wu Cheng-Hsueh wanted to give something back to his community that was both accessible and affordable—and that meant coffee and breads. After his shop was selling some two-thousands cups of coffee a day, Cheng-Hsueh expanded his operations and, after Store No. 3, took on the name of 85°C—the temperature Cheng-Hsueh believes coffee is best served.
Front: Raisin Milk Bun; center: Mango Cinnamon Roll; back: Japanese brioche.
Come 2009, 85°C opened its first shop in the U.S. in Irvine and has since opened in locations ranging from Cypress to DTLA—almost everywhere but Long Beach.
Introduced to me by friend Julia Huang of interTrend Communications, 85°C is that wonderful conglomeration of cultures meeting to do one thing: create a perfect pastry or bread paired with a damn good cup of salty coffee. (Yes, salty coffee—don’t judge until you try.)
Earning the unfortunate moniker of the “Starbucks of Taiwan,” it is anything but. (Starbucks attempted to up its pastry game when it purchased much-beloved La Boulange Bakery out of San Francisco. Of course, the problem was efficiency and equipment: without the benefit of being baked on-site, the pastries arrived old, mass-produced, and bland. 85°C, however, runs on an Until-We’re-Out philosophy and bakes everything in-house at every location.)
Brioche stuffed with taro.
85°C takes Cheng-Hsueh’s master baking skills and combines them with Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, French, Danish, and Italian methods to create distinct, bundled carbs of wonder. You can find very culturally specific things—like Taiwanese pineapple cake, a cookie-like outer crust filled with pineapple, or Portuguese pasteis de nata, a wonderful egg tart—or you can find the cross-cultural things that make 85°C a true star, like their taro brioche, where mashed taro root with its ever-so-beautiful hint of lavender color is swirled into their perfect (and I do mean perfect) brioche.
And their milk buns? Spectacular bundles that always include milk butter and can come with everything from raisins to mango.
Fear not should you be not in the sweet-tooth mood: 85°C has a plethora of savory options that include things like squid ink bread stuffed with mozzarella or Pork Sung Buns that include the bakery’s signature mayo and dry pork mix. They have sausages wrapped in pastry and cheese. They even have brick toast that takes their milk bread, slices it think, and slathers it in cheese before browning it under a broiler.
In other words: Long Beach needs this.