“Fresh bread,” sang the woman holding a tray of still warm baked goods, much to the delight of the customers inside 85 Degrees Bakery. After a few minutes inside this Taiwanese bakery chain, you, as well as your fellow customers, will be following the “Fresh bread” voice to discover what treasures they might have. It’s almost like being entranced by the Pied Piper of Hamlin – only that instead of disappearing, you are rewarded with freshly baked treats.
Nicknamed “The Starbucks of Taiwan,” 85 Degrees is a self-serve bakery. Armed with a tray and a pair of tongs, you browse the warm cases of goodies and help yourself. With pastries ranging from French in origin to Portuguese to Danish and more, the variety here is outstanding. The prices are decent – a chocolate chip cookie costs only $1. To those of you who may be used to paying $2-$3 for a chocolate chip cookie, it’s a bargain, if not downright cheap.
One of their best-sellers is the unusual Marble Taro, a bread with layers of sweet taro inside. The exterior is quite beautiful, with the purple taro creating a marbled look to the bread. If you are not accustomed to eating taro, it’s a bit like a sweet red bean or sweet potato filling tucked into the dough.
The Chocolate Brioche looked intriguing, almost caterpillar-like in appearance. However, like most Asian desserts, it was not as sweet, nor as chocolatey as its dark brown color would suggest. It was more akin to a Hawaiian sweet bread and did not taste particularly chocolatey.
Another popular item is the Portuguese Egg Tart, puff pastry filled with egg custard, with slightly bruleed top.
The best of the bunch which I purchased was the mini Apple Pie – thinly sliced apples and a layer of custard on top of a puff pastry. The pie was a perfect balance of crust, custard and fruit – not too sweet, nor too heavy.
Because they are an Asian bakery, the baked goods are lighter and less sweet than their Western counterparts, making it a less guilt-filled indulgence. With their reasonable prices and variety, I eagerly look forward to my next 85 Degrees visit and indulging to my heart’s content.
Location – 300 W. Main St. #100, Alhambra, 91801. Several locations in California and one in Texas. Internationally in Taiwan, Australia and Hong Kong.
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan/Gluten-Free Options –No pastries, just beverages.