New Pastry Pop-Up’s Breads, Butters and Cheesecakes Are Worth the Calories
Did someone say chocolate cinnamon babka?
“I. Love. Bread.” That’s what Oprah said—even on Weight Watchers. Like Lady O, my loaf love runs deep. Maybe because it’s a vessel for butter, bacon and burgers. Or because it’s perfect with soup and spaghetti. Either way, when I heard a new-to-the-scene pastry chef was mixing things up with unique baked goods, no one had to butter me up to try it.
Cristina Nishioka, the owner and master baker of Beyond Pastry Studio, started baking at 19 years old. After sweet stints at top bakeries in the Philippines, Qatar and Singapore, she came to Honolulu—for love. Nishioka’s wife is a local girl who “helps out with my business, but sometimes I won’t let her try my desserts,” she jokes, “just to irritate her.”
I would be salty too if I couldn’t have a slice. Or two. Nishioka’s vegan coconut milk bread ($8.25) is light and airy, its porous texture similar to sweet bread. Her pesto bread ($8.25) has a denser chew and is deliciously savory, with ribbons of pesto woven through the dough. Her gula melaka (palm sugar) multi-seed loaf ($8.25 plain, $18 paired with a 3-ounce jar of sweet black garlic butter) is pillowy soft with a tender chew and subtle sweetness (she uses coconut milk instead of dairy). All of them share the subtleties of slow, mostly overnight fermentation of dough including poolish doughs, the sponge-and-dough method and starch gelatinization for the milk breads.
A former 3660 On The Rise pastry chef, Nishioka also whips up freshly made butters that are elevated with umami flavors. Like her kombu butter, which starts with kelp simmered in a classic sugar-shoyu-sake-mirin combination. Think hurricane popcorn, but a spreadable, sexier version. What I thought was black pepper sprinkled in is actually confetti-like pieces of kombu. Regulars love it so much, they use it for sautéeing greens and dressing up steaks. It also marries perfectly with most of Beyond Pastry’s breads, which is the point. Nishioka sells bread-and-butter pairings in hopes that people will try new flavor profiles.
Also coming out of her kitchen are dairy-free chocolate cinnamon babkas ($12.50), for all the vegans; seasonal bake-at-home brownie kits, baking pan included, and cheesecakes ($27). My favorite of the two cheesecakes: the Epicurean with mascarpone cheese and liliko‘i. A delicate sponge cake crumb blankets the cake; slicing in reveals layers of sponge, silky cheesecake and passion fruit. The balance of flavors—a subtle cheesy tang against the tartness of fresh liliko‘i with a hint of Lā‘ie vanilla—is perfect.
Both cheesecakes (the other is chocolate) come with extras that dial up the experience. The liliko‘i is paired with a strawberry-cranberry compote and crushed butter cookie, which makes it even harder to resist. “I look around and see whatever everybody else is doing, then I go the opposite way or offer more value,” she says. “I want to make an impact and create jobs, be a constant support to our local farmers and purveyors, and continue to share my heritage.”
Nishioka’s vision is to have a permanent space and continue to grow offerings that go beyond the usual bakery goodies. For now, you can find Beyond Pastry’s baked goods online. Weekly pickups are scheduled for Fridays at Fishcake, 307 Kamani St. in Kaka‘ako. It’s best to order ahead, since even pre-orders often sell out by Thursday; if you just want butter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.