Though French in origin, the mille crepe cake has become popular with bakers and dessert lovers everywhere. The delicate, multi-layered confection is found in the display cases of many Asian bakeries from Japan to Singapore. It also is the driving force for a new Chinese bakery in Metairie, where myriad versions of the creamy, spongy treat highlight a selection of pastries and Chinese baked goods difficult to find in the area.
Wenjian Zheng and his wife opened Wishing Town Bakery Cafe earlier this year in a narrow strip mall on David Drive. Zheng moved to the New Orleans area from Guangzhou, China, six years ago and the couple also runs the CBD food truck Yami Foods. At their cafe, the emphasis is on Chinese buns, cakes and pastries.
There are many sweet breads but the a few savory pastries are very good. A buttery roll is topped with pork floss — an umami-rich, dry, shredded pork mix. A shiny and subtly sweet briochelike dough surrounds chunks of a hot dog link in the sausage roll, which makes for a filling, slightly crunchy snack. A similar dough serves as the base for coconut bread, which is showered in finely shredded coconut and isn’t overly sweet. Somewhere between them in sweetness lies a flaky croissant filled with a brick-red bean paste with an earthy tang. Barbecued pork-filled buns are nearly ubiquitous at Asian bakeries but are conspicuously absent here, and the bakery selection would benefit from more savory items. There also is a short menu of dishes, including a handful of sandwiches.
Fluffy milk bread tastes like angel food cake and begs for an accompanying cup of espresso. Egg tarts, a hallmark of Chinese bakeries, are a custardy treat with a texture akin to lemon curd, a thick, English-style pastry crust and a bruleed top. A selection of cheesecakes includes a blueberry version with a very fine graham cracker crust and a dense, creamy filling with violet-colored blueberry swirls, which add a touch of tartness.
The heart of the bakery is the impressive selection of cakes, available in a variety of colors and flavors. An indulgent chocolate mousse cake has layers of gooey chocolate and a thick cocoa topping. Soft, spongy mille crepe cakes feature paper-thin layers of cake and pastry creams. The word mille refers to the cake’s appearance of having a thousand layers, though there actually are 15 to 20 layers. A coconut version has only a touch of sweetness — a nice surprise for an ingredient often overburdened by artificial sweeteners — and is topped with a thin veil of shredded, dried coconut flakes.
There are two versions of the layered green tea cake — one filled with a lightly-flavored pastry cream and the other with pandan, which exudes floral and vanilla scents. The latter worked well with the matcha-topped cake, which delivers the characteristic bitterness of the tea balanced by sweet layers of cake and cream.
The Chinese influence at Wishing Town Cafe Bakery is what makes it unique in the area, and it’s a creative addition to the bakeries and confectioners in the metro area.
Wishing Town Bakery Cafe
701 David Drive, Suite 3, Metairie, (504) 267-5985
breakfast, lunch and early dinner daily
egg tart, coconut mille crepe cake
limited savory pastry selection
Metairie Chinese bakery specializes in mille crepe cakes and pastries