It’s raining as I type this, but it is indeed summer in Seattle. And although summer looks a little different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve a little liquid-nitrogen-cooled ice cream or cream-filled mochi. In fact, I say it means we deserve to take comfort where we can, and for me that means imported Japanese chocolate-filled wafers, dammit.
This week’s Neighborhood Eats took me to Bellevue, on a treat tour that includes fluffy doughnuts and towering raspberry napoleons. Honestly, it has probably been the best week of my 2-year-old daughter’s life as mama kept coming home with bags filled with treats and she went bonkers over almost all of it. Not that I completely trust her palate (she is deeply mistrustful of asparagus) but still, here are four fantastic options the next time your sweet tooth takes hold.
4 a.m.-4 p.m. daily; order online or stop by for takeout; 1412 156th Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425-643-9193, westerncodonut.com
WesternCo has been making doughnuts for over 30 years, and once had locations in Georgetown, Kent, Renton, Ballard and Bellevue. Just the Renton and Bellevue locations remain. In a world full of “fancy” doughnuts, the ones at WesternCo are delightfully old-fashioned. They are also freshly made each morning (the man packaging mine up says he eats a hot bear claw every morning at 2 a.m.; doesn’t that sound like a dream perk?) and cost around a buck each. Doughnut holes? A total bargain at $2 a dozen. Savory pastry lovers can pick up bacon-and-cheese buns, ham-and-cheese croissants or a hot dog wrapped in a bun. I grabbed a giant bear claw ($1.25), a raised, glazed doughnut with a smear of raspberry jam ($1.25) and a glazed old fashioned ($1). All were pillowy soft and light. The irregular crags on the bear claw created wonderful little crispy bites. I can see why someone would eat it every morning. With a 4 a.m. opening time, WesternCo is the perfect stop on your way to a social-distance sunrise hike with a doughnut finish.
7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for takeout and limited outdoor and indoor seating; 10373 Main St., Bellevue; 425-289-0015, bellepastry.com
The case at Belle Pastry in Old Bellevue is a sight of beauty, filled with classic French confections. From individual tartlets topped with seasonal fruit to chocolate eclairs, plus layer cakes, napoleons, macrons and quiche, there’s something to satisfy anyone. Instantly, my eye fell on a raspberry napoleon ($6.25) with delicate layers of pastry dough separating vanilla pastry crème and fresh raspberries. The woman helping me suggested a cherry tartlet ($7.95), a seasonal item that features fresh Washington cherries atop a puddle of pastry crème in a buttery tart shell. It’s impossible for me to bypass chocolate, so I also grabbed a swan ($6.95) which is a delightful little mousse cake with layers of vanilla cake, vanilla mousse, chocolate cake and milk chocolate mousse topped off with a layer of dark chocolate ganache. Each bite, down to the last little smoosh of pastry crème from the raspberry napoleon, was worthy of the audible “mmmm!” emanating from my kid’s mouth.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; 699 120th Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425-453-1261, jsweetsstore.com
This little shop is nestled within the Bellevue Uwajimaya and specializes in Japanese desserts. There are fresh cream-filled mochi, matcha green tea wafer cigars filled with matcha cream, delicate little sandwich cookies with chocolate filling, and so much more. Everything is individually wrapped and can be sold in larger gift sets. Staff can even help you customize a box if you wish.
When I was in Japan in 2017, my suitcase returned stuffed with exquisitely wrapped cookies, and J.Sweets was basically like revisiting heaven for me.
I picked up a handful of mochi ($1.90-$2.20) as well as small boxes of double chocolate au lait cookies ($19) and Petites Gaufres ($9.50), delicate wafer sandwiches smeared with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry crème filling. The mochi are sold frozen and need 30 minutes to defrost. They are filled with cream and fruit. Of the four I purchased, the delicate sakura was my favorite. If you have any friends celebrating quarantine birthdays, a box of cookies from J.Sweets will 100% make their day.
Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday; 10606 N.E. Second St., Bellevue; 425-223-5829, fogrose.com
It’s walk-up orders only at this chic dessert bar, but it’s got everything dialed in for ordering, including a QR code on the outer door that brings you directly to the menu on the FogRose website. You can order direct from there, or give your order to the staff member manning the pickup window.
There are a few savory dishes, but don’t miss the liquid nitrogen ice cream, which is so unbelievably creamy that it’s almost like soft serve. Pints are $12 each; I got chocolate banana and olive oil. Both flavors were on the subtle side, yet satisfying. Ditto for the slice of Vietnamese coffee cake ($9), which featured a rich, moist chocolate coffee cake with layers of white chocolate coffee ganache and a drizzle of condensed milk buttercream. The cake came with a few scattered flower petals, a little extra zhuzh that made it feel even more special. Ahh, these quarantine times.