Four Asian bakeries for when you want to treat yourself

You’ll find sugar and spice and everything nice here

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Kanadell’s new storefront interior, themed with green foliage and wick furniture
These bakeries each have their own unique take on sweets! PHOTO: Sara Wong

By: Sara Wong, Peak Associate

Dessert has always played a meaningful role in my life. Of course, there are special occasions like birthdays and holidays, but usually what I think of first are those “just because” moments. My parents often pick up pastries for me if they know I’ve had a tiresome day at work or school and our weekends are often full of spontaneous food adventures. For me, that’s what the four bakeries listed below represent — places you turn to on a whim because you know they’ll make your day sweeter. 

 

Kanadell Japanese Bakery


Photo Credit: Sara Wong

At Kanadell, you’ll find an array of Japanese sweets, as well as western desserts with East Asian flavour profiles. I’m most obsessed with their melon pans and black sesame nanaimo bars. It’s been incredible to see Kanadell go from an online social media sensation (you’ve probably seen their “bear bread” on Instagram) to a brick and mortar shop. But the journey wasn’t exactly a cake walk. Keiko, Kanadell’s owner, recently appeared on the Food Network show Project Bakeover, which helps struggling bakeries redesign their space and streamline their menu. Now, Kanadell has seating for customers! The mix of wicker furniture and lush greenery creates a cozy, relaxing atmosphere. I love coming here for a late lunch, where I can take the time to indulge in a crispy, savoury kare pan (curry bread) and warm hojicha latte.

 

Heritage Baking


Photo Credit: Heritage Baking

I first met Martha Naguiat-Ebro, chef and owner of Heritage, at a local farmer’s market. One taste of her “bad boy” ensaymada, a Filipinx bun tinted with activated charcoal and topped with pork floss, and I was hooked! The brioche was pillowy soft and packed with more umami than expected, thanks to a hidden sriracha togarashi smear. Heritage offers other traditional favourites, like sans rival cake and pandesal bread, but the ensaymadas are a must-order. I’m also a huge fan of their pain au chocolat, which uses 70% dark chocolate from another small, local Filipinx business, Kasama Chocolate. This isn’t on the regular menu, but stay tuned for updates. Heritage operates out of Coho Commissary in East Vancouver, so the quickest way to get ahold of their treats is to order online and pickup at the commissary.

 

Pine House Bakery


Photo Credit: Sara Wong

There’s no shortage of Chinese bakeries around Metro Vancouver, but Pine House — specifically, the one on Kingsway — will always have a special place in my heart. It’s my family’s go-to spot for gai mei bao (cocktail buns; also known as coconut buns) and char siu bao (barbecue pork buns). The quality is consistently good, with a fluffy milk bread base and rich fillings. I’ve also found Pine House more affordable than their competitors. You’ll find a good variety of classics here like cow ear cookies, swiss rolls, egg tarts, and apple turnovers. Part of the joy of going to a Chinese bakery is picking up a plastic tray and piling it with whatever piques your interest! 

 

Kourosh Bakery


Photo Credit: Sara Wong

Growing up, most of my figure skating practices were in North Vancouver, where I saw a number of Persian bakeries, including Kourosh. I recently returned to check them out and was delighted to see Kourosh’s display cases full of cookies and other delicious baked goods. When I visited with my parents, we got an assortment of just about everything. Our bakery boxes were stacked with chickpea cookies, rice cookies, and shortbread, alongside jalebi, baklava, coconut macaroons, doughnuts, and éclairs. The latter three items were quickly devoured (we didn’t even make it out of the parking lot). While everything was delicious, the coconut macaroons were on another level. Aside from the textbook qualities of good macaroons — golden on the outside, moist and chewy on the inside — these macaroons featured a sandwiched layer of pistachio cream, adding texture contrast and extra flavour. I also enjoyed the cookies, which all had that buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality.