It took me a while to get myself to enter Village Bakery because for years it had a big blue B of a health rating in the front window. I’ve since checked with the Los Angeles Department of Health, whose records show that they were last inspected in September 2008 and they finally got a letter grade of A, with a number score of 91. To my bafflement, their hangul name was transliterated into English as Pang Kum Tuh, not Bbang Goom Teo.
There were two ladies tending to the store in the early morning, one right outside the door sweeping and cleaning up and an older woman inside behind the counter. They were both nice and very attentive. (Take note, Paris Baguette!) It’s a very small area, but well stocked with pastries. (Take note, Caketown Garden!)
I’ve now come to realize that Koreans will label most pastries “kastera” even though they’re not really in the form of Japanese kasutera/castella cake. For instance, Village Bakery carries so many different pastries with the castella label, most oblong and square. I went for a walnut variant that was studded with real bits of walnuts and priced $1.50.
I saw something labeled “dry” kastera, which had absolutely nothing in common with castella except that it was a baked product. Then I saw the word “madren” — my pulse quickened… something new to try? Closer inspection revealed it was a madeleine.
For my second item, I settled on almond “pie” that cost $1.75. It was rectangular and comprised of layers of sponge cake. Why pie? Later, biting into it, I discovered that it was alternating layers of sponge cake and crisp pastry. In effect, like a pie crust… Whatever… it tasted good.
If you need a quick pastry fix, do visit Village Bakery. Most of their goodies are in small plastic packs that you can easily pick off the shelf. $1.50 to $1.75 each — really affordable and great for portion control. They also have whole cakes and freshly baked “french toast” (Korean 3D version) and many red-bean filled products.
Korean-American teens like Paris Baguette because it’s hip, carries trendy stuff and spells the English right. But at my age, I don’t care if Village Bakery misspells the English labels as long as the product tastes good. Best of all, I am treated like a valued customer when I walk in.
Update (September 2009): Back to a B health rating again.
Three stars for Village Bakery (BbangGoomTeo) in Koreatown
3839 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90010 – near Western Avenue
Phone number: 213-386-5522. Parking in private lot.