Take a Bite

MW hosts bakery pop-up

August 11th, 2015
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comMy friends and I are addicted to San Francisco's b. patisserie maple-bacon kouign amann, and even with a change of venue and climate, Belinda Leong did not disappoint.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

My friends and I are addicted to San Francisco's b. patisserie maple-bacon kouign amann, and even with a change of venue and climate, Belinda Leong did not disappoint.

Not everyone has the good fortune to be able to travel to San Francisco for a taste of b. patisserie and the work of its James Beard Award-nominated pastry chef Belinda Leong, so MW restaurant brought a taste of b. patisserie to Honolulu.

Leong and her cafe/bakery business partner Michel Suas joined MW chef/owners Wade Ueoka and Michelle Karr-Ueoka in the kitchen for their tea service brunch on Aug. 1 and 2, which never ceases to be a wonderful excuse to get together with friends or family.

COURTESY JASON KIM

Belinda Leong, left, with business partner Michel Suas in back, next to MW's Wade Ueoka, and far right, Michelle Karr-Ueoka.

MW was recently featured on Eater.com as one of 6 Killer Afternoon Tea Services From Around the World, in the illustrious company of such institutions as the InterContinental Hong Kong, Ritz-Carlton Kyoto and Four Seasons Tea Lounge in Qatar.

For my friends and I, the collaboration seemed like a mad experiment in baking. We always hear from pastry chefs that Hawaii's high humidity is to blame for deflated, soggy pastry.

OK, we get it. They have simply set us up to have low expectations. But Belinda has proved otherwise. In skilled hands, we can have amazing puff pastry and bread here.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe morning feast started with b. patisserie's light, crunchy granola, served over yogurt and strawberries.

The morning feast started with b. patisserie's light, crunchy granola, served over yogurt and strawberries.

MW Kauai shrimp cocktail.

MW Kauai shrimp cocktail.

Lovely spicy ahi tartare.

Lovely spicy ahi tartare.

b. patisserie's lilikoi bostock with seasonal berries and noyau cream. Some of my easily confused tablemates were bothered by the pacing of the meal, which had sweets interspersed with the savory. They prefer to finish all the savories before moving on to sweets. You learn a lot about people at the table.

b. patisserie's lilikoi bostock with seasonal berries and noyau cream. Some of my easily confused tablemates were bothered by the pacing of the meal, which had sweets interspersed with the savory. They prefer to finish all the savories before moving on to sweets. You learn a lot about people at the table.

Pint-size won ton soup.

Pint-size won ton soup.

Now, here's the thing with Belinda's pastry: One of my friends is obsessed with her kouign amann, a light, airy Breton cake comparable to puff pastry or a croissant, with a crunchy and buttery caramelized sugar crust. It is divine. So, when he heard I was going to San Francisco last year, he made me promise to bring some back.

I picked it up en route to the airport at 3 p.m., flew home, went straight to a dinner party of about 30 people to meet him, but we couldn't enjoy it until 11 p.m., when the dinner party disbanded. We were not about to share this edible gold with mere acquaintances.

With the time difference between California and Hawaii, about 11 hours had elapsed since I walked out of b. patisserie. But, in the worst of conditions, bumped around with my luggage and airport security, in the frosty air-conditioning of the plane, in a taxi and finally, the trunk of my car, the texture and flavor was still amazing as four of us gobbled them up in the darkness of a dingy underground parking lot.

Seafood cake Benedict.

Seafood cake Benedict.

This was one of my favorite dishes of bacon, eggs and crispy rice.

This was one of my favorite dishes of bacon, eggs and crispy rice.

Mentaiko pasta for four.

Mentaiko pasta for four.

Chocolate haupia eclairs were one of five of Michelle's creations arriving as the meal's finale.

Chocolate haupia eclairs were one of five of Michelle's creations arriving as the meal's finale.

But again, those low expectations are hard to retire. When I saw the kouign amann here in petite form, a quarter of their full size in keeping with the meal's petite proportions — the only way we could enjoy all 16 courses — I had my reservations. I thought that with the change in venue and recipe adjustment they might be dry. I braced myself for the worst. But, they were just as good as I remembered. It was one of those Oliver Twist, "May I have some more," moments.

Mango "pudding" was so refreshing and light.

Mango "pudding" was so refreshing and light.

We were mystified by the lemon meringue ice cream sandwiches, trying to figure out how Michelle could get the lemon cream into the fragile meringue cap without cracking them.

We were mystified by the lemon meringue ice cream sandwiches, trying to figure out how Michelle could get the lemon cream into the fragile meringue cap without cracking them.

MW has perfected the combination of savory and sweet with its summer truffle chocolate brownie.

MW has perfected the combination of savory and sweet with its summer truffle chocolate brownie.

Berry-topped almond float .

Berry-topped almond float .

My friends were able to purchase a few extras. As for me, I plan to be in San Francisco very soon, and you know where I'm heading.

———

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

Leave a Reply

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Archives