Justin: So a month ago, Chanry tells me about a cute new Hamilton Cafe that just opened up. We stopped into Panaderya Bakeshop for a couple of treats. I'm not huge on dessert, though I have to admit my tastes are changing of late. I'm either learning to appreciate dessert or my tastes are changing as I get older. Get off my lawn etc.
Chanry: I’m pretty sure I had something to do with the change of heart Justin. It’s either have dessert, or watch me give you stink eye from across the table.
Justin: Always with the stink eye. Anyway, we decided to stop in for lunch (and more dessert). Panaderya Bakeshop cooks an assortment of items catering to the lunch crowd. As usual, Chan and I decided to try a bunch of items and share. I've come to call this "I order things I know and she makes me eat stuff I don't."
Chanry: Hhahha, next week, Balut!
Justin: I don’t even know what that is. I’m scared already.
Chanry: Justin from Eating Your Content and I rarely ever go out for Asian food together. The man is not a fan - so I was pretty thrilled when I could finally drag him out for some Filipino food. I wouldn't say I'm brand new to Filipino food but a majority of my encounters with it usually involve some form of karaoke so I was a little disappointed when we walked in and there was no karaoke machine in site.
Justin: LOL can you imagine karaoke in this cute bakery? It’d be so random.
Chanry: It would be a goldmine! Are you listening Panaderya?! Anyways, onto the food..
Justin: Any time I see Curry Chicken is available it's an automatic buy. As soon as I took a look at this particular choice, I was reminded of the Curry Chicken I order every time I'm at Pho Dao Bo. Yes... I order Chicken at a Pho restaurant. Stop looking at me with those disapproving eyes.
Chanry: *disapproving eyes*
Justin: Not only did this look like Pho Dao Bo's version, it tasted IDENTICAL! The major difference here is that Panaderya Bakeshop uses all parts of the Chicken. No complaints from me in that regard. I like when a restaurant cooks with the bones in. All that delicious flavour comes through. The Chicken was accompanied with Potatoes and served beside Steamed Rice. It was a solid portion of food, especially at that price. I figure this'll be my lunch time go to if I stop in again.
Chanry: It tastes identical because they both probably use the same Aroy Curry Paste. I’m not hateing, I use the same one at home too! Kudos to Panaderya for serving up curry with the bone still on the meat though. That is exactly how mama makes it at home! So many times you get shavings of “chicken” or “pork” and I’ve purposely used quotation marks because meat should never look that pretty. You know what I mean right?
Chicken Adobo with Glass Noodles - $7
Justin: This was Chanry's choice. I didn't know what "Adobo" was so I cowered in fear while she's all "IT'S SO GOOD WE'RE GETTING IT!" Truth be told it didn't really taste like anything to me. It was a lot like any "stew chicken" you'd get in a West Indian household. It tasted fine but nothing I'd be gunning for if I came in for lunch again.
Chanry: To be honest, adobo isn’t really my favourite but it’s such an iconic Filipino dish we had to have it. Cambodians have a very similar dish as well and it’s all very nostalgic. Again the portions were hearty and everything was bone in. Big thumbs up from me. Yes it’s a little messy to eat but everyone knows the meat closes to the bone is always more flavourful! This was a pretty safe choice for me - next time something way more adventurous!
Chicken & Pork Spring Rolls - $6
Justin: Things kind of take a "meh" turn with these Spring Rolls. The wrapper was crispy but both Chanry and I couldn't discern a difference between any of them in terms of taste. You'd bite into one and go "OK this is Chicken" and then try another going "Uh... OK this one is too so these MUST be Pork" only to find it all tasted the same. If it wasn't for a texture change, I'd have thought they were all Chicken. The Spring Rolls were also sold cold. I assume they'd been sitting in the steam tray for a while. Meh…
Chanry: Justin nailed it. I couldn’t tell between the two, I understand why spring rolls are on the menu but if they’re gunna be that “chaunced” why bother? They were too tiny to even make a dent in flavour. Either beef them up - not literally, or take them off the menu. They’re too labour intensive too. Don’t even get me started on the frozen ones..
Chicken & Pork Skewers - $3
Justin: These were a step up from the Spring Rolls but still lacking. Like the Rolls, these Skewers were dead cold. It's a tough spot to be in when you're pushing cafeteria style and items sit too long. These tasted fine and I enjoyed the BBQ sauce but again, nothing I'd gun for again.
Chanry: These would have been a bit better if they were warm. They had some really good colour on them and the bbq sauce was fine enough but having them served at room temp made the meat hard. I can only assume these skewers and the spring rolls are on the menu as a stepping stone into the more authentic dishes. Fair enough - I see what you’re doing.
Justin: Alright now let's get to what will draw you back to Panaderya Bakeshop again and again. Their desserts are GAWDLIKE! They cover an absolute gauntlet of delicious sweet items. Chan's more of a fruit lover while I tend to dive into Chocolate. Anything that wasn't filled or covered in Chocolate I took a bite and then passed along. I found the non chocolate items VERY sweet. In cases like the Strawberry Cream Puff, there was a lot of natural sugars and then more sugar (powdered, drizzle, etc).It was an overload for me. The Chocolate on the other hand was right in my taste pocket. Items like the divine Beignets were rich, but not overwhelming. Filling on most of the treats carried texture akin to Mousse. I couldn't get enough.
Chanry: That’s it? One paragraph?! I could go on and on about how fantastic and over the moon the desserts are. Francis, the 27 year old owner bakes everything in house with one assistant. From the beignets to the three layered taro cake - these ladies are kicking some major butt in the kitchen!
Justin: Give me a bucket of Fried Chicken and I'll write you a novel.
Chanry: There seems to be a rotating menu of sweets in the window so make sure you come by often. I am hoping she expands further into traditional Filipino desserts - like the jackfruit and plantain spring rolls. For a dollar apiece these puppies are pushing me further and further away from my bikini body.
Justin: You can have all the Jackfruit. I’ll take the Chocolate… fruit? WHATEVER!
Justin: There are two distinct impressions I get from Panaderya Bakeshop. In terms of lunch food, I don't really care for it. Everything ranged from "fine" in the Coconut Curry Chicken to unappetizing with the Spring Rolls. On the other side though, the desserts are outstanding. I'd lose all my teeth eating Chocolate Beignets every day forever. I've also found myself buying fresh Baguette on the two occasions I've stopped in and have been happy with it. I'd say try the lunch menu to see if it's to your liking but absolutely take the time to eat any and all desserts. They're all delicious and priced stupidly cheap at $2.50 or LOWER!
Chanry: The purple yam cake is what brought me to the door and it’s definitely what’s keeping me coming back. The desserts are without a doubt there specialty. A few things need to be tweaked with the lunch menu - for starters the temperature. Nothing was served hot! The lunch offerings are a great option for something quick and cheap and I think once they get into a good groove with the menu, it could be a really sweet lunch option. I’d come back and try some more authentic dishes because J and I definitely played it safe with the hot food. At $7 a plate - you can’t really hate though. The desserts are an excellent bang for buck and you get quality up the ass too. Sorry, probably should not have used that saying when describing desserts. What I’m trying to say is, it’s a great place to get quality hand crafted desserts without breaking the bank. It’s nice to see Hamilton ahead of the game when it comes to food trend. I think Filipino food is the new Korean.
Justin: There’s authentic Korean coming in my future isn’t there? =/
275 James St North
275 James St North