Visited: Friday, September 16, 2016 at 6 p.m.
We could all use some donuts and ice cream, right? Well, here’s your pick-me-up: Belle’s Bread, a Japanese bakery and cafe tucked into the Kenny Centre Mall next to Akai Hana and Tensuke Express (which just opened a new expansion and a sushi counter).
Belle’s cafe is a long space decorated mostly in browns and creams, with an ordering counter, display cases, and a section of shelves stocked with house baked goods. You’ll notice a steady Japanese theme, with some French influences thrown in.
A separate dining room to the right offers plenty of seating, and in nicer weather there are cafe tables outside. We just visited for dessert, but there’s a full menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and something called pizza toasts (like an open-faced sandwich). Alas, we were full from dinner, or I would most assuredly have tried the rice omelet: a thin layer of eggs wrapped around fried rice, meat, and veggies.
But we were there for dessert. Pastry fans, this is the place for you. Belle’s also offers a full menu of espresso drinks, teas, hot chocolate, smoothies, and more.
We sampled a few pastries. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the melon rolls, which have no melon in them. Like the sign says, they’re named for the shape, and are big, puffy, and sweetened lightly with chocolate chips.
In the display cases we spotted all sorts of goodies, like panna cotta…
…coffee sponge cakes…
…and giant glazed cinnamon rolls.
Not to mention cream puffs.
Or soft cornets filled with flavored whipped creams.
A personal favorite of mine was the red bean donuts. They’re glazed yeast donuts filled with a sweet paste made of adzuki beans. Sweet beans are more of a staple in Asian cuisines than American – we tend to think of savory baked beans or black beans. We most recently had sweet beans in a dessert at Bonifacio.
The taste and texture take a moment to get used to, but I’m a fan of it. It reminded me of a fig or poppy seed pastry filling. It’s not overly sweet, and it plays nicely with the soft texture of the donut.
And no visit to Belle’s Bread is complete without their matcha soft serve ice cream. Matcha is a form of green tea that’s been pulverized into a powder. This makes for easy mixing into ice cream; the green tea offers a light herbal touch to the sweet ice cream.