New bakery, Bon Bon, opens in Lakewood. Try the rice doughnuts, cream puffs
I was two bites in when I became completely enamored with the sweet rice doughnut.
The doughnut orb came with a crunchy exterior, fried until golden brown. Each bite yielded an elastic chew with satisfying resilience. Licked with sweetness, the red beans inside were a sticky treat.
Sweet rice doughnuts don’t get better than this.
Welcome to Lakewood’s Korean dining district, Bon Bon Bakery.
The French-Korean bakery opened April 24 in the same plaza as BooHan Market.
In fact, Bon Bon co-owners Chris Chung and Danny Shin credit BooHan Market owner Jae Han with recruiting them to the space.
“Jae suggested starting up the bakery,” said David Lee, who works as an assistant pastry chef to co-owners Chung and Shin, and spoke on their behalf. Originally, the owners discussed opening at BooHan’s Edmonds location. But the Lakewood BooHan location was perfect for what they wanted to offer. They do have the option of providing baked goods for the BooHan Markets, Lee said. Han, whose parents founded BooHan Market, cited the deep experience of the bakers and added, “we like to help hard working people.”
As is true with most openings in the last year, opening a new business took perseverance. Chung and Shin started the permitting process for Bon Bon before the pandemic, but after restaurants shut down and government services became limited, they put everything on pause.
It actually turned out for the best because opening while shut-down restrictions were still in place last month meant they had to do a slow-and-steady opening, which they found preferable to a busy and overwhelming opening, said Lee.
Now? They’ve been open a month and they’re ready for the crush of customers.
BON BON BAKERY SPECIALTIES
The bakery carries a farflung stock of cakes, breads, cookies, cream puffs, macarons, madeleines, mochi, chestnut bread, egg tarts and those delicious sweet rice doughnuts.
“More breads are coming every day. We are creating new recipes every day,” said Lee.
Bon Bon is similar in its options as the other two French-Korean bakeries in Lakewood – Boulangerie inside Paldo World and Olive Bakery inside H-Mart. Paldo and HMart are Korean grocery stores in a neighborhood filled with Korean barbecue, Korean fried chicken, Korean soup shops and quick places for bibimbap and mandoo. A short distance from the concentration of Korean restaurants and grocery stores, there’s also Asian Market, operated by the Cho family for more than 30 years. If you haven’t explored the deep Korean offerings in Lakewood along South Tacoma Way, you need to fix that.
Unlike those bakeries tucked inside grocery stores, Bon Bon Bakery is a walk-in bakery microfocused on selling bakery items – and only bakery items.
Like many French-Asian hybrid desserts, sweets at this bakery yield a less sugary treat. There’s an emphasis on soft, delicate textures, subdued sweetness and the bakery is committed to using only real butter.
“It’s more expensive and sometimes harder to work with, but we don’t use anything but butter,” said Lee.
On a first visit, the sweet rice doughnuts are a must order.
The doughnuts are made with several different doughs. The one I became enamored with is made with a sweet rice flour mixed with a high-gluten flour.
The softer ones are made with cake flour. “We make a total of six kinds every day and every morning we make some. Then, we make more in the afternoon so we don’t run out,” said Lee.
The green tea rice doughnut has a completely different style – with a lacy-textured interior and much less dense than the bean-filled sweet rice doughnut. Black sesame seeds were embedded in the green tea doughnut.
From the rest of the selection, one doughnut is filled with cream cheese and another with corn. There’s also a black doughnut and a twisted doughnut rolled in sugar.
Demand has grown for those delicious fried doughnuts. “We doubled our amounts since we opened,” said Lee.
There are also healthy-ish touches beyond the bakery’s commitment to only using real butter and dialing back on the sugar – they also use ground beans in their breads for an extra nutritious boost.
That bean powder is at the base of just about every bread in the bakery. Bakery owners Chung and Shin devised a water roux technique they picked up in their years working as bakers – Chung formerly worked at a Korean bakery in Lynnwood and Shin worked at a Korean bakery in Federal Way. They both have received extensive baking training in Japan, Korean and America.
“We use a recipe called water roux,” explained Lee. “It contains much more water and it creates a very moist product.”
He added, “That method makes the dough soft and moist, and it also lasts longer. It’s a recipe shared among master chefs. For us, it works perfectly to create the texture we want.”
Custom-order cakes are a specialty at Bon Bon, with four cake flavors from which to choose. There are also ready-made cakes beautifully decorated with decorating gels that are all-natural with no artificial flavors, colors or ingredients, Lee said. Take a look here at some of the ones I spotted in the case, priced $19.99 for a mini cake, $27 for a small, $30 for a medium and $35 for a large.
On a first visit, I recommend trying these bakery items:
Sweet rice doughnuts or green tea doughnuts: Chewy, with a bouncy elasticity. These are a fabulous first introduction to French-Korean pastries. $1.99 each.
Egg tarts: Creamy, delicious custard – made from real eggs and cream – tasted like an ultra rich creme brulee nestled into a delicious pastry crust. The tops are caramelized with sugar before service. $2.49.
Cream puffs: Built with a pâte à choux, the tender puffs were crammed full of poofy pastry cream. These were delightful and only $5.99 for a clamshell container.
Macaron cookies: In five flavors on my visit, with choices that rotate daily. The yellow was bursting with citrus; the blue tasted like a vanilla birthday cake. $2.40 each.
Lemon pound cake: Delicious, fluffy and mildly sweet. This was the shape and size of a Costco muffin and packed a puckery blast of lemon. $4.99
Peanut butter bar: This bar was the love child of an eclair, Wonder bread and a peanut butter cup. A soft, white eclair-shaped doughnut was split open and slathered with buttercream flavored with peanuts. Peanuts encrusted the surface, as well. Must like peanuts. $1.99.
Coffee: They have drip now, as well as tea. They have an espresso machine but it’s currently out of service. Look for espresso drinks to return soon, though.
Seating: No inside seating. They’re working on outdoor seating at the moment.
BON BON BAKERY
Where: 9122 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood; 253-267-1353
Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily