Those of you who've seen my posts about croissants here, as well as on the Manhattan and France boards, know I am a Cafe Besasu partisan. But I don't want to restart the repeated discussions of "who is best in Seattle." I just want to report on one new place I recently discovered.
Fuji Bakery at 526 S. King St. in the ID, with a home base in Bellevue, is a Japanese bakery. http://www.fujibakeryinc.com/ Although I have spent time in Japan, I ate few desserts there and did not try any here. I did try the croissants and pains au chocolat today at Fuji, midday. Time matters, since croissants may lose crispness as a day progresses, although the best ones can be reheated to crisp them up. This was my only visit, so I can't comment on early morning or late afternoon quality.
In a single word, they are excellent. However, while truly a French croissant, they are of a somewhat different style than Besalu. I think in France you will find proponents of both styles, though I tend to the Besalu style.
I was told that the head baker is Japanese but has worked in French restaurants. In contrast, James at Besalu is American who studied in Switzerland. Apparently, it is not necessary to BE French to BAKE great French.
Anyway, without giving more details about the different styles, and avoiding that meaningless word "best," I invite other croissant fans to try Fuji. It is open Mon-Sat. Besalu is open Wed-Sun.
For reference, I will give you a very French view of what constitutes good and bad croissants, translated (as best I can) from Le Figaro newspaper as part of their regular rating of the best croissants in Paris. Le Figaro has no problem using the word "best."
It is good if:
- It is shaped like a quarter moon.
- It is plump, has a crust is golden brown and a beautiful blonde color.
- When you stretch the horns to explore the interior, the crumb seems to have airy holes, convoluted, beige, supple, almost brilliant, and hidden under a very crisp pastry exterior.
- In the mouth it has a little malty/yeasty taste, a mild acidity, and a good balance between taste of butter and the aroma of the wheat, which lingers on the palate; it is both crisp and mouth-melting.
- The triangular point section is up well on the front, ready to pull off.
- Well done, a croissant is certainly drier but still good the next day.
It is bad if:
- It is flat, featureless and bloated, pasty, and compacts in your mouth.
- It is perfectly identical to all the croissants presented in store. It is therefore a strong probability that it has been thawed.
- It's dry outside, chewy or rubbery inside.
- It breaks into crumbs too much and it shows large holes in the pastry exterior layers because it was poorly "tourée,” (after rolling out, folded in three or four folds to be chilled before rolling out again).
- It is uniformly soft, indicating that it was cooked in a pulsed-air convection oven or an oven too cold.
- It does not have that light smell of butter and the taste of sugar too evident.
- If it is fat and greasy, the butter used was poor and it ran during the cooking.
- If it is too yellow, the baker may have added butter flavored with vanillin.
- Pasty white or cream color, it has not cooked properly.
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