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East West Lifestyle

Hang & Eat: Save Room for Desserts in San Gabriel Valley

August 22, 2019
Desserts from Go Cakes, Mr. Obanyaki, and Dot and Dough
Desserts from Go Cakes, Mr. Obanyaki, and Dot and Dough

Three new dessert shops in east Los Angeles to satisfy your sweet tooth

Go Cakes

Go Cakes is the hottest dessert shop to hit the San Gabriel Valley. Located in San Marino, the aesthetically pleasing retail space/coffee shop/cake shop is an Instagrammer’s dream come true. Complete with blush and rainbow colored-tones, each decoration has been meticulously thought through to bring a perfect, modern and Pinterest-worthy touch.

A cake from Go Cake
One of Go Cake's desserts

Founded by Stephanie Fong and Ariel Ip, Go Cakes was originally a highly successful online business that made the leap to a brick-and-mortar store in March of this year. Fong, who grew up in Macau, is a self-taught baker who has traveled the world looking for inspiration. Ip, who handles the business and design side, is well-known in the community in her own right. Besides being a popular food photographer, she also is an architect by trade. She designed every aspect of the Go Cakes store from top to bottom and has a keen eye for detail.

Macarons, custom cake pops, cupcakes and cookies from Go Cakes
Macarons, custom cake pops, cupcakes and cookies from Go Cakes

The most unique and popular item from Go Cakes is their special creation known as the GoPuffy. Most customers call in and reserve their GoPuffys, as they tend to sell out within hours of opening. The GoPuffy is a mini cake that has three layers: caramel, crème brulee and cheesecake. It tastes like a fluffy and light Japanese-style cheesecake mixed with a flan.

Besides the popular GoPuffy, the two other best sellers are the honeycomb cake and the strawberry shortcake. But where Fong’s talent truly shines is in her custom cakes. Fong regularly shares her custom cakes on Instagram where her portfolio includes a life-size mermaid fondant cake, funny bachelor/bachelorette cakes, birthday, and even extravagant wedding cakes that are made according to whatever theme her customers can dream up.

GoPuffy mini-cake
GoPuffy mini-cake

“Everybody wants a bespoke dessert for every celebration. I always talk to my customers about their preferences, flavors, design and the story behind the cake, before I start the design process to bring their dream cake to life. I top it off with beautiful fresh flowers and colorful decorations to ensure each custom cake is the central piece and most Instagrammable part of their celebration,” says Fong.

In addition to custom cakes, Fong makes macarons, custom cake pops, cupcakes and cookies. With Ip’s help, Go Cakes is also always on the forefront of the food trends. Their newest dessert release is a highly Instagrammable collaboration with Beijing Yogurt called the GoYogie cake, where customers can choose from three flavors: cornflakes, Fruit Loops and Oreos. The yogurt oozes out for the perfect Insta-worthy video capture for the foodies.

GoYogie cake
GoYogie cake

Go Cakes is also part coffee shop as well. In addition to having lattes, espresso, cappuccino, and Matcha lattes for customers who want to enjoy some caffeine as they dine in, they also offer various classes and workshops on coffee and cake decorating. The duo have experts in the field come in and teach classes in both English and Mandarin. They also have the option to tailor-make workshops for those interested in hosting a private party or special event while providing all of the supplies and ingredients for activities like cupcake/cake decorating and latte art.

Currently, Go Cakes is only open on weekends for customers who want to drop in and enjoy sweet treats and coffee. On weekdays, they are only open by appointment for custom cake consultations.

Go Cakes is located at 2322 Huntington Dr., San Marino, Calif., 91108

Mr. Obanyaki

Obanyaki, or imagawayaki, is a Japanese street dessert made with batter that is cooked in a unique, round-shaped cast-iron pan. The pastry/dessert is grilled on low fire until crispy on the outside. The center is filled with a filling that oozes out like molten lava with each bite. Traditional obanyaki is filled with sweet azuki bean paste, although in recent years it has become a trend to fill the pastries with other fillings. The snacks, which have been around for about 300 years, since the Edo period, is similar to a thick, stuffed pancake.

Japanese dessert Obanyaki from Mr. Obanyaki
Japanese dessert Obanyaki

Mr. Obanyaki, which opened in April, is a local mom-and-pop shop owned by brothers Kevin and Kenny Mok. The brothers, along with their entire family, man the shop in Monterey Park. Although the dessert is originally from Japan, Taiwanese and even Filipinos also have their own versions of obanyaki known under different names. Due to Japanese colonization and occupation, many other parts of the world were introduced to the dessert and eventually put their own spin to it. Fast forward to the 1990s, in the San Gabriel Valley, with its vast Asian population, obanyaki became an institution in the area. Many locals may remember obanyaki as a common sight at Asian supermarkets such as 99 Ranch and Hawaii, etc. Unfortunately, despite the obanyaki stands doing well, they eventually disappeared.

“We felt like this kind of dessert/pastry was really missing from the SGV. It was very nostalgic for us that grew up here. We wanted to bring it back with a modern twist by adding ice cream to it,” said Kevin Mok.

Each obanyaki treat at their store is made fresh on the spot, so it takes 10-15 minutes to prepare. Besides the traditional red bean filling, Mr. Obanyaki also has black sesame, custard, taro, Nutella and matcha coconut fillings. Size wise, Mr. Obanyaki’s treats are bigger than your typical obanyakis.

Chef makes fresh obanyaki
Making fresh obanyaki

In addition to the unique fillings, the Mok Brothers also brought in powerhouse Fosselman’s ice cream from the community to pair with their treats. Fosselman’s is an institution in the San Gabriel Valley that has been making all their ice cream on the premises for 100 years. Customers can choose to have their obanyaki by itself or to pair it with Fosselman’s vanilla bean, salty caramel, coffee & cookies, horchata, taro, green tea, Cookie Monster and taro ice cream.

The brothers are also playing around with secret menu items to modernize the traditional treat. Their latest experiment, for those who ask, is a “sunny-side-up” obanyaki. That’s where they put an Oreo cookie and bake it into the obanyaki. And to wash down the obanyaki, the brothers have a slew of interesting drinks such as Molasses Milk Frost that has bits of fresh taro, Hokkaido Milk Tea, White Rabbit Milk Tea, and Matcha Horchata with Green Tea ice cream float, to name a few.

Mr. Obanyaki is located at 2085 S Atlantic Blvd., Suite J, Monterey Park, Calif., 91754

Dot and Dough

A malasada is a Portuguese donut made of small balls of yeast dough that are deep fried and then topped with granulated sugar. The confections, which became popular in Hawaii, found themselves there due to the Portuguese who went to Hawaii in the 1800s to work on the sugarcane plantations. Although traditional Portuguese malasadas do not contain any type of filling, many new variations in Hawaii and beyond, do.

Malasadas from Dot and Dough

Based solely on looks, a malasada may look similar to any old donut. The biggest difference is the eggy dough that is used. The sugar is caramelized from the frying process, which gives the malasadas a nice crispy crunch. The inside has a light and fluffy texture.

Although malasadas are a must-order pasty and even a tourist stop in Hawaii, Los Angeles has unfortunately been behind in having malasadas readily available. This prompted local food entrepreneur Jason Tsai to open Dot & Dough. Tsai, the founder of multiple Macchiato locations, the Bleu House, and Next Republic Artisan Kitchen decided to bring malasadas to Los Angeles. He took over the space of a previous dessert shop, Ganache Patisserie, and worked with award-winning pastry chef Nick Mui to create their version of malasadas, which he sees as a blend of tradition with a touch of California.

In addition to the traditional plain malasada, Dot & Dough also has unique custard fillings like Nutella, cinnamon sugar, vanilla, matcha, Thai tea, Earl Grey, taro, dark chocolate and cappuccino, to name a few. They have more than 30 unique flavors that they plan on rotating in and out of the menu.

“All the ingredients we use in our malasadas are real. We actually brew the tea for the Earl Grey custard, for example, which takes four hours to make,” said Tsai.

Dot & Dough has had customers lining out the door for their malasadas. The store has done so well that Tsai and his partner are planning another location on Melrose Avenue soon, which will be followed by an Orange County location.

Dot and Dough is located at 141 N Atlantic Blvd., Ste 102, Monterey Park, Calif., 91754

Hang & Eat with our food blogger Kristie Hang as she explores the latest East West food trends.