LA LA Bakeshop Scarborough
LA LA Bakeshop uses nostalgic Southeast Asian ingredients like salted egg, pork floss and durian to contrive modern takes on traditional Vietnamese desserts.
The bakery was started by two friends after they lost their usual 9-5 jobs due to the lockdowns. The online business began with deliveries across the GTA, and eventually, the desserts were going as far as Kitchener-Waterloo, London, and even Ottawa.
Partners Brian Tran and Harry Pham opened the first downtown location in the summer of 2021, bringing on their other friend, Michelle Pham to help with the brick-and-mortar. The three of them, as well as the rest of the team, are from Vietnam.
The first physical location garnered enough positive response that the bakeshop also joined the bountiful Scarborough food scene. And lines have already formed at its door.
Full of pastel and blush pinks, natural light and an adorable confetti wall, the second storefront was designed by Michelle just like the first.
As the head baker, Harry is called the driving creative force behind the menu. Everything they carry is inspired by either traditional desserts or trendy items like salted egg cakes, as long as it's popular in Vietnam.
The first thing they started selling back when the business was still grassroots was their roasted seaweed roll cakes ($4.80), which continue to be big sellers. Chiffon roll cake is filled with their signature sweet and salty custard, pork floss and seaweed cover the top.
Most of the desserts are less sweet than what you'd find at a Western bakery and include a touch of salt.
Tear one of their lava salted egg buns ($5.80) open and salted egg sauce will pour out. Again, pork floss, as well as a salted egg crumble, are its garnish.
Condensed milk croissants ($4.20) take after a simple children's snack in Vietnam, bread with condensed milk. For the croissant filling, a few secret ingredients are added to condensed milk to balance sweetness.
Coconut sticky rice mini cakes ($14) contain a base of coconut sticky rice, pandan chiffon cake in the middle and a thick top layer of whipped cream and coconut shavings. Pushing your spoon through all three layers at once is the best way to eat it.
With yogurt made the traditional Vietnamese way and purple rice at the bottom, purple rice yogurt ($7.20) is pretty self-explanatory. Every scoop is sweet and tangy from the use of condensed milk and fermented whole milk.
Full-sized cakes are also available. Make sure to call ahead in order for the durian supreme or salted egg cake to be ready in time for a celebration. Both require 24-hour notice and range from $28 to $72 depending on the size.
Besides the desserts, the banh mi croissant ($6.80) is made with cha bi, a Vietnamese pork sausage seasoned with black pepper and garlic, combined with a pork liver pate and housemade pickles.
The pate is wonderfully smooth and provides added moisture to the already buttery croissant, which means the sandwich is never dry.
The garlic cream bun ($5.20) is a flavour bomb of garlic, butter, bread and cream cheese, and is every bit as moist as it is garlicky. It's hard to limit myself to only one.
As to liquid refreshment, Vietnamese iced coffee ($4.50) is brewed strong with coffee from Vietnam and sweetened with condensed milk.
There's also a jasmine lychee iced tea ($6.20) made with freshly brewed jasmine tea and real lychee fruit. Fragrant, floral and refreshing.
LA LA Bakeshop is packed between a great deal of other Asian food and tea shops in Scarborough's Skycity Shopping Centre.
Just look for their logo: a golden gingko, which is a tree that originated in Asia and migrated to North America, similar to everything in the shop.