If you're one of those people who has grumbled and moaned to me about being so far from places like La Patisserie Chouquette, Pint Size Bakery, and Whisk because you live in West County, you need to stop whining right now. You have a place to go. A place with pastries and baked goods you can't find anywhere else in St. Louis. Yes, you have something unique that you can rub in the faces of your city dwelling friends. You have Kim's Bakery. So shush. Kim's Bakery is the same thing as St. Louis Korean Bakery and Kim Dok Won Bakery. When you Google it, you'll see any of those names appear.
What's special about a Korean bakery, you ask? Everything. It's all so goddamn delicious. There's a reason that the French-inspired South Korean bakery chain Paris Baguette is spreading through Asia like wildfire: traditional French techniques and recipes have been modified for the Asian palate, and for that, we should all be thankful.
Every day, the Kim's crew bakes more cookies, breads, cakes, and other tasty bits than you can imagine. Some highlights from my most recent trip, clockwise from top left:
1. The melonpan's name comes from it's appearance—it looks like a rock melon—not its flavor. Based on its size, you'd expect it to be a hefty snack, but it's actually hollow inside. It's like a buttery, sugary balloon. The outside of the dough takes on this crackly, crunchy texture while the inside remains soft.
2. White bean balls are for the sugar lovers. Don't let the word 'bean' be a turnoff: you know how good red bean paste is. While red bean tends to have a sticky, gummy texture, white bean is creamy and has less flavor, so almond paste/extract is used. If you like almonds and sugar, or you're looking to get diabetes, you will enjoy these.
3. Do you enjoy custard? Do you enjoy soft, sweet dough? Get the custard bun.
4. I can't leave without getting a fistball. Imagine making a chestnut and raisin bread pudding, but instead of making it as goopy as Americans like theirs, you put it in your hand, make a fist, then toast it so the outside is crunchy. This is what you'd get.
Asian bakeries have an obsession with hot dogs, for some reason. My last time there, the owner insisted I get the sausage pizza bread: slices of hot dog interlaced in dough, topped with cheese and ketchup. It makes for really good drunk food. I'm not sure why, out of all the things in the shop, this is what she really wanted me to get, but I assume she's just an avid Whiskey & Soba reader and knows I'm a pizza fiend.
You may remember my post on Kim's earlier this year highlighting two of their cakes, but I've found the real winner: the green tea cake. It's the best green tea cake I've had anywhere. The top of the cake has a cool post-apocalyptic nuclear green smear design, then you get a thick layer of fluffy green tea mousse, a layer of cake, a smaller layer of mousse dotted with chestnuts, then cake again. I'm embarrassed by how much of this cake I ate, most of which was done secretly late at night.
And yes, this cake was purchased and consumed for Father's Day of this year. I forgot to write about it. I even considered going and getting a new one to re-shoot it, but after the last few weeks of heavy eating, I figured this would be best.
Kim's Bakery is a serious asset for Chesterfield/Creve Coeur. If you're in West County, go. If you're further east, make your friends bring you some (don't bother with the rolled cakes, though; they're the only things there I haven't liked). And most importantly, don't be afraid to go in and try new things. Most items come packaged individually, so you can pick and choose a wide variety.