The Weekly Eater

By Nadine Kam

Thursday, February 11, 1999

Show your love with
a gift of dough

IF your idea of romance is to whisper sweet nothings into your beloved's ear on Valentine's Day, think again. Be prepared to back up those claims with sweet somethings on a platter. Bakeries around town will gladly provide assistance.

This offer also applies to those who get weepy and whiny this time of year, ruing the day they believe holds nothing for them. Baloney! Valentine's Day provides a great excuse to buy the whole chocolate cheesecake -- "It's for the love of my life" -- and binge to their hearts' content. Why? Because they can when no one's chiding them for stuffing their faces. (We all know how unattractive that can be.)

Check out the following:



BUILD a better cake and they will come. The proof is in Panya's heavenly confections, which led to quick success for sisters Annie and Alice Yeung.

Their first bakery opened in McCully Shopping Center in 1997, followed by Panya Bakery and Cafe at 1210 Queen St., in December 1998. A Ward Warehouse Panya is set to open next month.

Annie said she got the idea of opening a bakery while traveling through Europe on buying trips to stock clothing boutiques here and in Hong Kong. Those buying trips doubled as tasting trips, Annie said. She was particularly captivated by the assortment of beautifully decorated pastries.

Panya's creations combine European elegance with Asian subtlety. Though sinful looking, the cakes won't overwhelm you with sugar.

"It's very simple and light," Annie said. "I'm lucky that residents in Honolulu have the same taste as I do."

The lightness is amazing. It's surprising the spongecake can support the layers of azuki bean cream in a Green Tea and Azuki Bean Cake ($2.95) when the cake seems to dissolve on the tongue as quickly as rice paper.

Annie said they start with a basic spongecake recipe. They will go to great lengths to ensure quality, however. She and Alice do random samplings regularly ("Maybe not the whole piece") and if the sponge isn't right, they'll destroy the batch.

Other favorites here include tiramisu ($2.50 per slice) and strawberry shortcakes ($2.50 per slice).

Just for Valentine's Day, they'll offer a pair of 4-inch chocolate mousse cake hearts for $12, or $6 each; a 7-by-4-inch strawberry shortcake with Valentine's Day decorations for $15; and an 8-inch heart-shaped strawberry-kiwi shortcake for $30.

On regular days, look for an assortment that ranges from simple, pillowy white bread at $2.50 for half loaf or $5 whole, to pear snails (1.10).

Panya is at McCully Shopping Center, 1960 Kapiolani Boulevard. Call 941-1117. Also, Panya Bakery and Cafe at 1210 Queen St. Call 597-8880.


Le Bon Pain

THIS bakery bills itself as a "fine French bakery," but there's a strong Asian influence here also. In addition to croissants, rolls and cream-filled chocolate danishes, you'll also find pastries filled with red, green or white bean fillings, and an 8-inch loaf of bread ($1.25) stuffed with sweet potato.

Where Panya focuses on light sweets, Le Bon Pain takes a savory approach to pastries for your macho valentine. You can get a frankfurter in a twist of French bread ($1.25), a football-shaped roll stuffed with mashed potato and vegetable curry with a pinch of beef ($1.25), and in place of a tuna sandwich, get your tuna on top of a danish ($1.25).

You can skip the takoyaki or octopus bun ($1.25), with its squishy filling that wasn't like any octopus I ever tried.

Le Bon Pain is at 3057 Waialae Ave., next to Midas Muffler. Call 739-2539.

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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:

-- excellent;
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- average;
-- below average.

To recommend a restaurant, write: The Weekly Eater, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802. Or send e-mail to

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