June 14, 2007

Cream Pan [Tustin]

Cream Pan is an assuming bakery that is truly a gem in Old Town Tustin. It is a Japanese bakery with a modest storefront, featuring loaves, pastries, and sandwiches. The kitchen dominates a majority of the store, leaving a narrow walkway in front of the glass counter.
I've visited on many occasions, often during lunch breaks, for their delicious treats.

Notable favorites are the lunch set and the much-praised strawberry croissant. The lunch set is affordable at $3.00 for four finger-sized sandwiches filled with egg and tomato salad, tuna salad, or cucumber and ham. They sloth off the crust, leaving you only with the extremely soft bread. Although it may seem small, it is surprisingly filling.

lunch set strawberry croissant

The strawberry croissant is nothing short of amazing. The ultra-flaky exterior serves as a wall for the canary light cream filling topped with three fresh strawberries. It is sprinkled with powdered-sugar and highly suggested to be eaten over a sink.

And because those strawberry croissants are so damn good, allow me to interject. Cream Pan isn't one of those cute little dessert places you stop at on a leisurely stroll through Old Town Tustin, but it is where you go to satisfy for craving for fluffy Asian bread, cream-stuffed pastries, and most of all, strawberry croissants. Ninety percent of the already tiny bakery is devoted to the kitchen, which only leaves 10% of the space to satisfy Orange County's demand for the crispity, flakity, powder-all-over-your mouth strawberry croissant ($1.80).

strawberry croissant
I was wearing white that day and Yoshi said to me, "It's a good thing you wore white." Why? "Because now the powdered sugar will blend in." She had warned me that eating the croissant would be a messy undertaking and between the layers of pastry, custard, strawberries, and powdered sugar, I learned that she wasn't kidding.

Cream Pan's croissants are denser and less buttery than breakfast croissants, but are also more appropriate at all meals thanks to their crispier exterior. I had one at lunch, another at dinner, and sat through rush-hour traffic for another one only one day later.
For instant gratification, there are a few tables outside where you can sit down and enjoy. Otherwise, make sure you get the pastries home asap, since the strawberry croissants need to be refrigerated.


Back to Yoshi:

Other delicacies I have sampled are listed below:

yakisoba panYakisoba Pan: The idea may sound strange but it as actually quite acceptable. The yakisoba is cold and I feel that it could have fared well as a dish on its own. The bread is soft and neutralizes the strong flavors of the yakisoba.

Apple croissant: Just as flaky as the strawberry croissant and the apple filling is amazing. There are chunks of apple and it tastes very fresh.

Scone: The wheat and currant scone is on the bland side and can be passed.

Cream Pan: The cream pan is not over-stuffed with cream and the cream is light.

melon panMelon Pan: There's actually no filling inside this bread and the only reason I think they call it Melon Pan is because it sort of resembles one appearance-wise. The top is hardened with a sugary coating and the bread itself is soft, but not buttery soft.

Brownie: It's VERY crumbly and not as sweet as most other brownies I've had. It comes with baked with walnut pieces embedded but overall, it was rather dry. Not at all what I expected.

Azuki cream: A huge bun filled with heavy cream and a layer of red bean paste inside. I'm not one to favor heavy cream but next to the red bean and soft bread, it was hardly noticeable. Sinfully delicious.

Updated July 19, 2007

No visit to Cream Pan is complete without the taste of something new:

Apple Croissant: The croissant dough has the same light sweetness as the strawberry ones do, but aren't meant to be as crispy. There's more air baked into this croissant, which keeps the pastry layers inside fluffy and soft. The apples are a nice touch, especially if you're looking for something less sweet to start your day off with.

Chocolate Croissant: The unsweetened dough in this croissant really brings out the smokiness of the dark chocolate. The chocolate is dense, rich, and almost like biting in a solid chocolate bar enveloped in flaky layers of puff pastry. Recommended with a cup of coffee. In France, this pastry would be called a pain au chocolat, which is a variation on the croissant.

Cream Pan: This namesake pastry is ironically not Cream Pan's signature item (see previous post on strawberry croissants). It is a sweet bread bun filled with custard cream on the inside. The bread is comprised of a million little web-like fibers that are layered inside for a feathery lightness.

Azuki Cream Pan: Although the name suggests a similarity, the Azuki Cream Pan is not the same baked bread filled with red bean instead of custard. The Azuki is more similar to a dense croissant than a baked bread. Its layers of puff pastry are interspersed with red bean filling and a lot, almost too much, whipped cream. While the pastry was light, I couldn't get over the explosion of cream that accosted my mouth upon first bite.

Cream Pan also has a brisk commercial account with Ebisu Market in Fountain Valley and the Marukai Pacific Market in Gardena. I've seen strawberry croissants, sandwiches, and breads at the former, though the Pacific Market may only carry the bread.

I was under the impression that a Croquette Sandwich would be too starchy with both bread and potato adding to the carbohydrate count. However, Cream Pan marries the two successfully with a bold dash of terriyaki sauce and a lighter-than-air bread that combine to break the monotony.

My new favorite is the Peach Danish, which is sweet without being too dessert-like.

Voila Cream Pan's latest addition: the Katsu Sandwich Lunch Box at a hefty $5 price tag. It's a welcome change-up to the usual egg salad, tuna salad, and ham combo and is a great choice if you're looking for something more substantial at lunchtime.

Cream Pan
602 El Camino Real
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 665-8239


Ara said...

Yum! That looks really yummy! Thank you for this you gave me an idea of what will I bring as my snack tomorrow in my work. ;-) Easy to prepare and healthy! I like it.

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