Giant chocolate chip breads as big as your head. Fluffy buns gorgeously swirled with white and purple. Beautifully decorated showstopper cakes ready for any party. 85 Degrees is a showcase for some fun and creative Asian-inspired baked goods. Their latest Northern California outpost opened in Berkeley, and is a welcome addition to the university town’s bustling cafe scene.
All The Sweet Details
It used to be that if you wanted some Chinese style breads or pastries you had to go to Chinatown or one of the Asian shopping centers scattered around the Bay Area. However, in the last couple of years stand alone bakeries offering Asian-influenced baked goods have been popping up everywhere in unexpected locations. 85 Degrees, a Taiwan-based chain of bakery-cafes has been among the most prolific. Located at the intersection of Shattuck Ave and University Ave, the store is pleasantly spacious, with wonderful high ceilings and plenty of seating. It’s popular with students from nearby University of California at Berkeley, but it’s also a great place to bring the kids because of the casual, convivial atmosphere and plentitude of tables for spreading out. The display cases and the coffee bar take up one corner of the store, while a mezzanine overlooks the activity and offers more seating space.
The bakery cases offer a dizzying variety of European and Asian pastries, both sweet and savory, from breads to rolls to cakes. Every time they bring out a tray of breads fresh from the oven, the workers shout, “Fresh bread!” to alert customers to the new goodies coming out from the kitchen. A definite must try is their house brioche (seen in center of the top row of the above photo), which is as light and feathery-soft as a pillow. Both adults and kids will quickly become addicted to this sweet bread, perfect for tea time or snack time.
Most Asian breads tend to be soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet, which make them ideal for little kids’ palates. While the little ones may gravitate towards offerings like chocolate chip bread, be sure to also try some of the house specialities like the marble taro bun, a palm-sized soft bun swirled with a sweet, nutty taro filling, or the cheese dog, a hot dog wrapped in a bun and drizzled with cheese.
Your New Favorite Drink: A Sea Salt Latte
Besides breads, 85 Degrees has a variety of other sweet offerings, including these lightly sweet miniature cheesecakes, perfectly sized for a little kid snack. To go with your pastry, 85 Degrees also serves a full range of coffee and tea. For a true Taiwanese café experience, be sure to get a milk tea, or try one of their most popular drinks, a sea salt latte, which has a bit of sea salt mixed into the foam.
There’s also an eye-catching selection of fancy cakes which are ideal for special events and also sure to catch the little ones’ attention. Many of the offerings are fresh fruit and whipped cream based (the mango is one of my favorites), which make them a wonderful, lighter option for children’s parties if you want a break from buttercream.
Good bakeries are always a valuable addition to any neighborhood, and 85 Degrees offers both a robust selection of familiar favorites and original creations, as well a warm, friendly place to enjoy your coffee and pastry.
85 Degrees Bakery
21 Shattuck Square
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m.–11 a.m., Sunday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m.
Do you have a favorite treat at 85 Degrees? Tell us in the comments below!