Going in search of something that every one raves about far and wide, usually leads to disappointment. Everyone on both Chowhound and Yelp praise the Strawberry Croissant at Cream Pan to be the best pastry item ever invented. Ironically located in the same parking lot as Bally’s gym, I wonder how many people exit the gym and head straight to Cream Pan as a “reward” for a good workout.
Several display cases greet you warmly as you enter, certainly whetting your appetite from the get go. Racks of bread and other pastry items adorn one side, while a refrigerated case line the back wall. The space is very tiny, maybe 10 people can fit in there but it would certainly be crowded.
The Katsu sandwich is a nice thick breaded cutlet that is covered in a sweet and slightly sour katsu sauce. Lettuce and a couple slices of cucumber finish the sandwich. It is set in a roll with a slightly sweet taste, like Kings Hawaiian bread “light”. The sandwich is good, although I think it would be better if it were served hot. A microwave is accessible inside the store, but I think nuking it would harden the bread.
The Croquette Sandwich is a thick mashed potato patty that is about the size of a hockey puck. The croquette is mixed in with various spices, breaded and topped with the same sweet and sour katsu sauce. It is finished with a lettuce leaf and shredded cabbage to add some textural crunch.
The Caramel Custard comes in a nice little cup and comes with a caramel sauce that is the end result of being cooked in a caramel base, much like flan. The custard is rich and thick and is very “eggy”. The caramel is a deep mahogany color with a very distinct “burnt” flavor. If you like your custard in this fashion, this will certainly be to your liking.
The Chocolate Horn is sort of a disappointment. The bread is rather thick and dense, but still has that faint sweetness to it. The inside is filled with a rich filling of dark chocolate and whipped cream. The filling is rather sweet, but the bitter undertones of the dark chocolate help to quell the sweetness. The horn is then dipped in chocolate. Like the filling, the chocolate topping is on the sweet side.
The Azuki Cream Pan marries a croissant and an An Pan together. The rich, buttery and flaky pastry envelopes a large dollop of whipped cream under which a thick mound of azuki beans lie. Some of the azuki beans still have a little bit of bite to them. The crunch of the croissant crust is a perfect textural contrast to the whipped cream.
The star attraction and favorite of many is the Strawberry Croissant. Take a rich, buttery and flaky croissant, cut open a little pocket add a thick, creamy custard and top it with a few slices of strawberries and some confectioners sugar. What could be better? Not much, to tell you the truth. This sublime pastry is not overly sweet at all. The custard is mildly sweet and the confectioners sugar is offset by the tartness of the strawberries. This presentation opens up a Pandora’s box of other types of croissants, blueberry, peach, etc.
There are still a few types of pastries I would like to try, but after this sampling the best of the bunch are the Azuki Cream Pan and the Strawberry Croissant. This little hidden gem has gained fans from all over.
602 El Camino Real