Worldwide bakeries put to the test

For those days when you’re craving something sweet, it can be hard to find a bakery with a variety of quality pastries. So that you don’t have to risk a sub-par pastry experience, here’s my take on five local bakeries, one of which is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Duke Bakery

Founded by a Taiwanese pastry chef who studied in Europe and began the small chain in Singapore, this bakery is located in Rowland Heights. Its classy interior, with parchment-lined shopping carts to buy pastries, appeals to the eyes as much as the bread. Though its selection of pastries isn’t very wide, the quality is excellent. All of their baked goods are incredibly fresh and chewy due to the high-moisture dough used to make their breads. I recommend its chocolate and blue mountain coffee bread ($4), which has an excellent contrast between a bitter coffee taste and sweet chocolate chips, all encapsulated in a fluffy loaf. For a more classic option, Duke Bakery also carries Danish pork bread, which is a croissant with pork sung, shredded fried pork, sprinkled on top. Overall, Duke Bakery is well worth a visit, though its quality comes at a higher price.

Panaderia y Pizzeria La Mexicana

Despite its dingy appearance, Panaderia y Pizzeria La Mexicana is one of the best Mexican bakeries in our area. With dozens of different types of pan dulce, Mexican sweet bread, they manage to knock the flavor out of the park. Not to mention the prices, which are lower than every other bakery I visited. At less than $1 apiece, its elotes, which are filled pastries coated in sugar, were my favorite of the bunch. With a thick, sugary filling and sweet, doughy exterior, the elotes are more than worth the trip to the La Puente location.

Paris Baguette

This bakery fuses French and Korean tastes into one. Due to the recent renovation, the Diamond Bar location near World Market is now one of the coziest and classiest bakeries I have ever visited. They have a front patio with a heater where you can enjoy any one of its  many pastries such as buns, rolls, cakes and more. My favorites of Paris Baguette’s pastries include the whole red bean bread ($1.99) and sticky milk bun ($3.79), both of which are exceedingly fluffy and have a high filling-to-pastry ratio. The bakery’s pricing is more middle-of-the-road, except when it comes to certain items like sandwiches, which are pricier at around $10. Given the quality, pricing and convenience, there is no reason not to give Paris Baguette a try.


This Taiwanese bakery is one of the most well-rounded of the bunch. There is a good variety of both sweet and savory options available, and they also offer drinks and frozen meals to go. I asked the cashier for her recommendations and she was very friendly in pointing out their popular pastries such as the toasted coconut bun ($1.75), pork sung bun ($1.75) and honey cake ($2). Of every location, Uncle Chuang’s was definitely the one with the best service. Although I did not enjoy the pork sung bun due to its staleness, the other pastries were wonderful. The toasted coconut bun was my favorite pastry overall, with a sweet but mellow crunch coming from the toasted coconut that was well-balanced with the bread portion.

JJ Bakery

My final stop was at a Taiwanese bakery that offers a good variety and quality pastries. There was a balance of traditional and modern pastry, so I tried both ends of the spectrum. Their Chinese mooncake ($4), filled with red bean and egg yolk, was more on the savory end, and the yolk gave it a pleasant saltiness. On the more modern side was the barbecue pork bun ($1.75), which had a pleasant balance of sweet and savory. They also offer pastries from other cuisines like Portuguese egg tarts ($2.25), which though a little stale, were still tasty. Yet I don’t think I would go back, mostly due to the inconvenient location in Rowland Heights and lack of casual seating.