"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shilla Bakery - December 11, 2010

Mochi bread

Posthumously, I was informed of the Korean mochi bread craze that swept through the small island of Taiwan four years after its demise. To be exact, it was only the “craze” that died down, but not the mochi bread itself as it had quietly found a place among the staples on the shelves of Taiwanese bakeries. In a similar vein, another type of chewy bread became fashionable in Japan decades ago (and, for once, I was there to be on it real-time): Pão de Queijo – the cheesy balls from Brazil. The Asians are obsessed with the texture of this type of particular and distinct chewiness, expressed as QQ in Taiwanese or mochi mochi in Japanese. By the way, the Japanese version of mochi bead has existed for a quite while, which seems to differ from the Korean version in the choice of the key ingredient – the QQ or mochi mochi factor: The former primarily uses glutinous rice flour, while the latter tapioca starch.

Since my fellow gourmand had not had the fortune of experiencing this famed Korean export in Seoul as I had, I dragged us into a random Korean bakery across the Hudson River. Of course, being a self-respecting Korean bakery, Shilla had the mochi bread on offer. This mochi bread was on the harder side, with the outer crust being quite firm so that you could hit it with a spoon to produce a pok-pok sound. The liberal amount of sesame seeds in the bread were toasted to a savory nuttiness in the baking process.

The inside, ideally porous like a good Swiss cheese, was where the QQ-mochi mochi action should have happened. Yet, this mochi bread had holes too large, and therefore, the bread was too cavernous to be satisfactorily chewy.

Mocha bread

This large bread with pre-sliced slits – meant to be shared, if you dared – was divided into four mocha cream-filled sandwiches. This bread produced a stream of strange sensations: The initial feeling was of the firmness of the bread – even a little dry, not unlike a stale roll – then the firmness crumbled without the merest hint of resistance by the friction of the teeth; among the bread crumbs, emerged the criminally luscious and indecently rich mocha-flavored butter cream. Sometimes, it is a small surprise that starts a love affair – a glance, a brush of hair or a careless toss of the head. The surprising and complex texture of the mocha bread had surely bewitched my soul.

Corn Bread

Sturdy and gritty with the corn meal, the lightly sweet and nutty corn bread appeared innocently ordinary and rustic at the beginning. Yet, the more you ate, the less innocent it seemed; and it became obvious that the bread was a result of an acute and calculating mind.

Shilla Bakery
Address:  236 Broad Avenue, Palisades Park, NJ 07650
Phone:  (201) 302-9651 ‎

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