Thursday, May 05, 2016

Fujipan Japanese Bakery, Sydney

I've spent a considerable amount of time in Sydney at this point, about 6 months in total over as many years.  I certainly wouldn't claim to know as much as locals, but, I have really taken the time to explore the culinary scene while there.  My first trip focused on higher end French cuisine, but quickly realized that it just doesn't compare to San Francisco.  On my next trip, I fell in love with the Thai food in Sydney, just so much better than in San Francisco.  I originally stuck with the less authentic places, but soon discovered that the real good eats could be discovered just walking around Thaitown (like the Thai hawker I reviewed last week).

Which is where I discovered Fujipan.  As you can probably guess from the name, it isn't thai, it is ... a Japanese bakery.  You know how much I love baked goods, so it shouldn't surprise you that it caught my eye, particularly as the goods are displayed right in a window to the street, and the aroma of fresh baked bread is impossible to miss.  Fresh items are constantly being brought out, so you know they really are baking continuously throughout the day.  Besides the baked goods, mostly breads, they also offer bottled beverages and ... soft serve ice cream.  A bakery with ice cream?  Um yes.

Fujipan quickly became one of my stops on my way home in the evening, just to pick up "a little something" to enjoy back at the hotel.  I really enjoyed trying the very unique (to me!) items, and would certainly return to find more.

The Space

Storefront.
Out front, Fujipan is just another storefront, albeit one with plenty of goodies lined up in the window, which is of course what drew me in.
So many choices!
The window isn't just for display though.  On the inside, there are signs indicating what each item is, and slidey plastic doors quasi-protecting the items.  The doors were always in a state of disarray, and seemed to be more annoying than do good, but, at least they tried to protect things?

Everything is self-serve, so you grab a tray and a set of tongs at the entrance, and help yourself to what you want.
Inside.
The shop is small, with a register at the front (cash only!), and baked goods along the front wall and one side wall, plus a table of packaged baked goods in the middle.
Signature Items.
On one wall is a description of some of their signature items, along with drawings.  I visited Fujipan many times, and at least half of these items I never saw.  Seems a bit odd for "signature items"?

The descriptions here were far more verbose than the ones on the cards in front of each item, so it was useful to study this before diving in.
Crazy Treats!
For my first treat, I had a very, very hard time picking.  I wanted the melon pan, after having a good one in Japan once, and trying hard to find a good one in Paris (but failing ... you'll see that review soon).  But there were so many other choices, both sweet and savory.  The doughnuts (filled with red bean, custard, etc) looked great.  And seriously, how ridiculous are the teriyaki dog (fluffy brioche bun, sausage, aioli) or the yakisoba pan (same bun, but actually filled with yakisoba) pictured here?

So much tempting stuff.
Cute Bag!
When you order multiple items, you get a cute little bag to take your goodies away in.  So, protip: order many things (and not just for the bag!).

Baked Goods

Taro Pan. $2.20.
"Sweet bun with taro cream."

I love taro.  I want taro in everything, so, I was thrilled to discover the taro pan.

It was kinda flat looking, a bit sad looking really, but said it was filled with cream and, well, it was taro.  It was a lovely purple on top (ohai taro!), and a bit hard when I picked it up with the tongs, yet soft on the pale bottom.  I can't say it seemed like it was going to be awesome.

But it was.
Taro Pan: Inside.
The bottom, as you can see here, was soft, fluffy, sweet dough.  It was not taro flavored, but was really delicious.

I do not think the top was actually taro flavored either, although it was purple.  It was a bit crispy, sweet, and, well, tasty.

The inside was the taro filling, not really "cream", but, mashed taro, with some chunks too.  It wasn't too sweet, which complimented the sweet bun quite nicely.

Overall, this was great.  It was fluffy, it was crispy, it was creamy.  Lots of textures, and not too sweet.  It totally hit the spot.

My favorite, and I'd get it again in a heartbeat.
Nicky Sausage. $2.50.
"Milk Bun, Fork Fross (sic) & sausage with Original Cream."

On my next visit, I got brave and went for the "Nicky Sausage".  This is a similar item to their signature "Nicky Lawson", a sweet milk bun filled with custard and topped with pork floss.  But, since I was considering this part of my "lunch", I decided adding sausage (protein!) would help justify that classification.

The bun was made up of 3 distinct balls, held together in a triangle shape.
Nicky Sausage: Inside. 
I eagerly broke off one ball, and bit into it.  Yes, there was sausage inside!  Each of the three balls of bread had a chunk of sausage within.

The dough was light, fluffy, and slightly sweet, and really delicious.  I love this style of bread.  The sausage was more like a hot dog, but tasty enough.  The pork floss on top was salty and quite tasty.

I really liked this, and totally understand now how the signature Nicky Lawson makes sense ... cream, fluffy bread, and salty pork floss actually sounds delicious to me.  Without a creamy component, this was actually a bit dry.  So, I did want that cream, although it would be strange with the sausage, so, maybe just some aioli like the teriyaki dog I saw?  Anyway, the Nicky Lawson is definitely on the list for next time.

Ojan however wasn't sold on this one, and didn't know what to make of the pork floss.  He told me that it was "an acquired taste" and he wasn't ready to commit to saying he liked it (or not).

My second favorite of the treats I tried.
Melon Pan. $1.60.
And finally, one day I eventually got the Melon Pan, as it is the item that first drew me in.  The description on the placard read "Sweet bun, Crispy Cream", but the one on the Signature Items sign gave the more informative "A delicate, sweet, soft bun, smothered in deliciously crunchy cookie."

Anyway, the melon pan.  The bread was light, sweet, and fluffy, very good.  The top did have sugar crystals, and the signature melon look, but, it wasn't crispy.  I was really looking forward to the crispy sugar cookie top, and it failed in that department.  Maybe it was just too humid that day?  We did eat it immediately after purchase though.

My third pick.  Ojan said, "it is pretty good".
An Pan. $1.90.
"Sweet bun with Red Bean." is how the placard described it, or, "Fluffy filled with our original redbean Jam which is hand-made in a traditional Japanese method." said the longer description on the sign.

I have a problem with always thinking I like red bean. I'm not sure what it is, but, I always think I like it, and then I don't.  And when I was surrounded by so many red bean items, I couldn't resist getting something with red bean again.  Plus ... protein?

The bun was one of the pre-packaged items, rather than on display in the cases.  I'm not sure why they choose to have some packaged this way.

The top was shiny and much darker than the other items, sprinkled with sesame seeds, both white and black.
An Pan: Inside.
As you can see, inside was a generous amount of red bean.  It contained whole beans and some mashed, and was slightly sweetened.  It was ... red bean.  Oops, I don't really love red bean.

The dough though was really what made it not a winner for me, it wasn't light and fluffy like the melon pan, the Nicky Sausage, or the taro pan.  It wasn't hard, but it just didn't have that doughy lightness that I loved in the others.  My least favorite, and I wouldn't get it, or any of the similar buns with other fillings, again.

Ice Cream

So, in addition to the baked goods, Fujipan also has ice cream.  And not just ice cream, soft serve ice cream!

The ice cream is available in two flavors, matcha or black sesame.  They sell a single size.  And only in a waffle cone.  No toppings.
Black Sesame Ice Cream. $2.90.
One, hot, sticky evening, I headed to Thaitown to pick up dessert.  I was planning to get some variety of pudding, with coconut milk, and all sorts of interesting goodies in it from the Thai dessert cart.  But ... it was hot.  I didn't want sweet, sticky dessert.  I wanted ice cream.

So, I walked right past my intended Thai dessert hawker, and kept on going, a few blocks further, to Fujipan.  Yup, to the bakery.  For ice cream.

Ordering was easy, since I couldn't pick a size, and didn't even have the choice of cup or cone.  Since I didn't want caffeine, black sesame was my only flavor option.

The cone was fine, standard waffle cone, not stale.

The ice cream was fairly icy, not creamy and smooth like I was hoping, but the black sesame flavor was lovely.  They have no toppings, so alas, no sprinkles for me, always an integral part of a soft serve cone.

Overall, this was fairly lackluster.  Standard cone, icy ice cream, but good flavor.  It hit the spot, but I wouldn't go there for ice cream again.  Where would I go for soft serve ice cream in Sydney?  Easy: Aqua S.
Fujipan Japanese Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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