Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fun Playing With Bubble Tea, Buns and Pork at Koko Bakery, Cleveland Asiatown

Last week, I was privileged to join the two gents behind the Cleveland-based food blog Eating Around Town for lunch at Koko Bakery in Cleveland Asiatown. I can't believe It's been almost a year since I last wrote about Koko Bakery (3710 Payne Ave, Cleveland, OH, (216) 881-7600, no website). 

As always, Koko Bakery presented too many choices - even with three of us eating! We began with Bubble Tea. I think Koko Bakery makes the best Bubble Tea in Cleveland - with about 20 flavors to choose from! Still, I always wind up with Taro flavor, because I love it so much. I adore their taro flavored desserts, as well.

Taro Bubble Tea


Bubble tea is flavored, sweetened, chilled tea that contains marble-size balls of tapioca. The tapioca is primarily a texture-enhancer, and allows one to drink and to eat their tea at the same time.  It also acts like tofu - absorbing whatever exotic flavors are in the beverage, and allowing you to play with it in your mouth. No wonder I love it so much! 

While waiting to order my entree at the counter, I noticed a tray of fresh buns, in the kitchen ready for the oven. The goods at Koko are baked fresh all day!

Chris and Joel picked out a tray full of buns for us to sample, as I pondered my lunch order. I'd never ordered an actual meal at Koko; I usually just load up on buns. It was not an easy decision, but I ordered the Pork Katsu Rice Plate. Chris ordered a Teriyaki Steak Sandwich for he and Joel to share. These items must have been made from scratch, because they took a while. Since we had our tray full of baked goodness to play with, however, we barely noticed.

Curry Beef Donut 

This was one I'd never seen before. Stuffed with curried beef (similar to the flaky pastry also available in the self-serve hot box), this Chinese Cruller dough was then deep fried and crunchy.


My next taste was a Ham and Egg bun, which I'd never have selected for myself. Good call, Joel!


What really made this bun rock was the Kewpie Mayonnaise.  

Dan Tac (Egg Custard)

The dan tac were sublime - fresh, flaky pastry on the outside, boldly eggy filling inside.

Bacon Bun

This one never fails to please. Bacon, freshly made bun, creamy sauce, gooey cheese.

BBQ Pork Bun

The char siu went fast - I didn't even get a photo of the inside. 'Nuff said.

Teriyaki Steak Sandwich 

This was one sandwich for two growing boys - and for about $7, it fed them more than sufficiently.

They loved it. I would have skipped the cucumbers.

Tempura Vegetables

Every sandwich ($5-7) comes with one side, and the guys chose this. My taste was terrific - hot, crispy and fresh.

Pork Katsu Rice Bowl with Vegetables


I really liked this - though the pork was a tad dry and might have been a little overcooked. Still, the fresh factor stood out from both the meat and the crunchy coating, and the sauce drizzled over the pork strips was a gentle but tasty accompaniment. Though I should have told them I despise cukes in all forms when ordering, as my vegetables (which were fresh and not frozen or food service packed) were loaded with them. Oh well. It was such a generous portion that I actually left some of the rice over (as well as the cucumbers).

Chris and I announced our saiety - but Joel had his eye on one more goody:

Yep - this was your basic donut. Airy yet crispy, and redolent of lard, we all loved it. And the appropriateness of this as our final item was demonstrated as we left. I spent a couple of minutes getting organized in my car - I looked up and noticed a white and stenciled vehicle in the parking lot behind me. As I pulled out, the occupants of that car got out and headed into Koko Bakery. Even in Asiatown, the cops know where to get the best donuts!

Lunch at Koko Bakery is cheap, fresh, tasty and filling. If the above hasn't made you salivate, check out the photos and review by the EAT guys here. It was a shame that Koko was so poorly attended the day we visited - Cleveland needs to show Koko Bakery some love! I assure you, it is food and drink worth playing with.

Koko Bakery on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. great great post! love the bubble tea and egg custard especially :)