With all the time I spend in Flushing it’s hard to believe that it’s taken me this long to patronize Paris Baguette. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that it was the Korean bakery’s Cronut knockoff that finally lured me across the threshold.
“You can’t take pictures here,” said a beret wearing young man dressed in a striped shirt more commonly seen on French mimes. “Discover the dessert that’s taking over Manhattan,” read a sign above the croissant-doughnut hybrids. “Decadent and yummy,” it continued. I don’t often succumb to the lures of food faddery, but Cronut curiosity got the best of me. There is no way in hell I am waiting on line at 5 a.m. outside of Dominique Ansel for any pastry, no matter how hyperbolically delicious. So I considered getting one of Paris Baguette’s Croissant Donuts ($3.50) to be the next best thing. It was indeed “decadent and yummy,” topped with lemon zest and filled with a vanilla cream. The crunchy outer layers were sprinkled with granulated sugar. Sadly they were also quite greasy. Having never had a real Cronut I have no idea how the Paris Baguette compares. If I had to guess though I’d say it’s like David Lee Roth Van Halen vs. Sammy Hagar Van Halen. That is to say pleasant and similar in form to the original, but nothing really like it all.
Emboldened by my first visit to Paris Baguette, I returned a week or so later looking to cool off after a food tour. In the window was a picture of something called Well-Being Shaved Ice. The brass bowl piled with shaved ice, red beans, various nuts, and what looked to be miniature marshmallows looked kind of good. Patbingsoo, Korean shaved ice with red beans, fresh fruit, and condensed milk is one of my favorite things to eat in the dog days of summer. This purportedly healthful version was a new one on me though.
At $9.95 a bowl the crunchy granola take on shaved ice is not cheap. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be served in a brass bowl as depicted so I wasn’t too disappointed that it came in a disposable plastic container. Sliced almonds, walnuts, and cubes of mochi dusted with nutty tasting soybean powder sat atop the fluffy ice. Atop that were two huge scoops of red bean, and a spherical red bean mochi cut in half. For some reason I picture an executive at the Korean-based Paris Baguette saying, “Everybody loves mochi, and they think it’s good for them. Let’s have big mochi, small mochi. What do you mean we can only have two types of mochi?”
It was nutty, crunchy, and sort of sweet, but had as much in common with most other shaved ice as a Gardenburger does with the real thing. Joe McPherson of ZenKimchi tells me that this type of preparation is actually a more traditional than the fruit salad variety that I like so much. Be that as it may, I have a feeling that a visit to a Filipino spot for halo halo—the most over the top shaved ice ever—is in order.
Paris Baguette, 136-20 38th Ave., Flushing, 718-713-0404
Halo-halo rules over all shaved ice concoctions.