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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bread Story, Haymarket, Chinatown

EDIT 05/07/07: Bread Story in Chinatown has now closed.

Choco Teddy
Choco Teddy bun $1.50

Sometimes it seems like Bread Story is the new Krispy Kreme. When those yeasted donuts first arrived in Sydney two years ago, it seemed like anyone carrying around those dotted boxes had a certain skip to their step. Today in Chinatown, it feels like Bread Story is the new season must-have. The distinctive frosted Bread Story tote bags seem to jauntily hang off the arm of every second businessman, uni student or office worker.

I'd been trying to avoid their new store in Chinatown, their second outlet after Ultimo, on the prime corner property once inhabited by Maxim's. Sure I popped in every now and then just for a look, but I'd tried them once before and given the higher prices, my allegiances remained with the old skool Asian bakeries.

But in the name of research *cough cough* I thought it only fair I conduct some sampling.

bread story chinatown
Bread Story, Chinatown

The first Bread Story chapter (haha) opened in Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur in 2002. Jun Low, a Singaporean former stockbroker, set out to create a boutique bakery that deliberately tapped into the luxury market, where presentation, ambience and freshness were of utmost importance.

All Bread Story stores have see-through glass kitchens so customers can watch the bakers at work. It reminds me of the food halls in Japan department stores and I do admit to often standing there, staring, as they stretch, shape and garnish raw blobs of dough.

in-store baker
Bread Story in-store baker

buns for baking
Buns ready for baking

freshly baked buns
Freshly baked buns

One of the noticeably different features about Bread Story is their use of perspex drawers to house each bakery item. I'm sure this has been done to deliberately create subconscious parallels with the sliding display drawers in jewellery shops.

bread story drawers
Perspex drawers

There's a mind-boggling array of products on offer, all of them uniform in shape and prettily presented. Wacky names are often included too.

seed bun
Pumpkin seed bun

Hero Chocs
Hero Choc

flossy seaweed buns
Flossy Seaweed

flossy polo buns
Flossy Polo

My biggest bug bear with Bread Story is the excessive use of plastic: each bun is slid into its own individual heavy plastic bag, and then all of these are then placed into another plastic carry bag.

booty bag

What we've sampled:

matcha green tea bun
Green tea bun

I love matcha anything but I found this was too much bun, not enough matcha. The buns are scarily soft here and the glaze is thick and sticky.

purple yam and taro bun
Yameshima purple yam and taro $2.40

I yam a fan of purple tubers and taro and I quite liked this one, which had quite a strong yam flavour courtesy of its generous purple slathering. The toasted almonds were a nice touch too.

condensed milk bun
Milky Drop $1.80

I had no idea what was inside the Milky Drop until I carefully carved it open:

condensed milk bun innards
Milky Drop innards

This tasted exactly like soft white bread sandwiched with condensed milk. It was soft white bread sandwiched with condensed milk. Which made me wonder, why didn't I just buy a loaf of soft white bread and sandwich it with condensed milk?

custard swirl
Custard Swirl $1.80

The first time we bit into a custard swirl, the heady aroma of eggy custard that hit us was remarkable. The small dollop of custard is bright yellow, sweet and eggy. The bun is super super soft and sweet. There's usually a huge air pocket inside too.

hero choc
Hero Choc $2.40

The Hero has its name as such because, as explained on the Bread Story website, it is "like all heroes, soft inside, crusty outside".

The crusty orb looked too good to pass up, so we added it to our tray of goodies.

hero choc innards
Hero Choc innards

There's a huge crater inside but despite its appearances, it's quite a rich bun--I had half and still felt slightly ill. This could have much to do with its coating of salted butter and caramel mocha crust; the texture is sweet and crunchy, a somewhat denser caramelised version of the crust on polo buns. The bun is eggy and rich, with a flavour and texture akin to choux pastry.

We also tried the Stairway to Heaven, a long skinny bun filled with mango cream (photos were taken but were somehow corrupted on my memory stick). My two tasting colleagues adored this one, but I again had issues with the bun's spongy softness and the thick cloying aftertaste of mock cream.

But even though I wasn't bowled over taste-wise by its products, there's still an insidious addictiveness to Bread Story. Everything is so pretty, the staff uniforms are so cute and the buns on offer are new and innovative after decades of same-old same-old fare.

It's five minutes of fun and extravagance for about $2.00. Whether I'd still go back after I've tried all that's on offer is a whole other story.

bread story

There are currently 21 Bread Story stores in Malaysia, 2 in Kuwait, 8 in Indonesia and 2 in Sydney. Plans for expansion possibly include Pakistan, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Bread Story (CLOSED)
396 Sussex Street (corner of Goulburn Street)
Haymarket, Chinatown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9281 2313

Monday to Friday 7am-10pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am-10pm

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Bread Story on Broadway, Ultimo
Closure of Maxim's, Chinatown
21 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 8/03/2006 11:58:00 pm


  • At 8/04/2006 12:43 am, Blogger Robyn said…

    Oh my god, we SOOOO need this in the US! I'm all kinds of jealous right now.

  • At 8/04/2006 1:19 am, Blogger Austin said…

    I think we have a branch of Bread Story here in Bangkok. Or maybe it's Bread Talk? Or My Bread? Shit, I don't know... Either way I find these Asian bread products compellingly disgusting, yet fascinating. Highlights of some of the more unusual varieties here in Bangkok can be found by doing a search for the word "baked" at my blog, RealThai.


  • At 8/04/2006 1:30 am, Blogger Mark Vicuna said…

    not quite sure if i'd make the trek into the city just to check them out.. i think i'll wait until they open up in the suburbs. the yam and taro bun looks the goods though!

  • At 8/04/2006 2:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think Bread story makes the cutest buns ever but I prefer to stick to Honore for my buns.

    Anyhow, just wanted to say hello too since I've been reading your blog for a while and I look forward to your posts since the food places you try are usually around where I live. Just moved here from Canada so it really helps to see what places are good :) Thanks!

  • At 8/04/2006 4:51 pm, Blogger M said…

    Hmm lucky I'm going to be in Sydney for the next two weeks!

    Have you been to Buon Ricordo or Bistro Moncur? I'm pretty keen to hear if they are as good as the hype.

  • At 8/04/2006 7:52 pm, Blogger tytty said…

    hi helen,

    actually bread story isn't that popular with malaysians, as compared to the singapore import bread talk which is better in taste and quality.

    i'm not 100% sure, but i think maxims actually moved to chatswood under a different name because the lady looks really familiar! (-: the bakery is smaller but the buns look better!

  • At 8/04/2006 8:57 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    Helen, I love eating the buns here in Melbourne from a shop called Bread Top.
    I wonder if its the same franchise as Bread Story since the text for the name is similar. So are the clear bags and putting their bread in clear shelves.

    I think you are right that putting the displays in clear sliding draws do give customers that impression of the indulgant sensation of buying jewellery. I found that at the expensive chocolate stores I go to such as Koko in Lygon Street and Patchi in Melbourne Central shopping complex, they also use the same technique. The chocolatier (is that what they are called?) puts on their white cotton gloves and you select the chocolate, which they proceed to put in nice little boxes beautifully wrapped. Then they put the nice little box in a little bag, the exact same sequence of events as buying jewellery.

  • At 8/05/2006 2:35 am, Blogger Julia said…

    Wow, what a quantity of products (!)
    of course its very important how food looks...(think of DMBLGiT!!) :) but the quality of the creation must always comes first, right? :)
    Like your blog very much, am from now on a regular!
    that hero choc. looks so good!great name too...:)

  • At 8/05/2006 5:32 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am of the old school. No apologies whatsoever. I find these 'innovations' although creative are more schizoid than truly brilliant. Remember pac-rim fusion? 'Nuff said.
    m - Buon Ricordo is totally amazing, the much lauded pasta with truffles is a wonder to behold. Bistro Moncur? Just the hype, really. If you're not in Sydney long term, there are tonnes and tonnes of other much better places to wine and dine.

  • At 8/05/2006 10:39 am, Blogger deborah said…

    what a selection. i quite like the sound of the milk drop in all its simplicity.

    i'm still not a fan of those cases though... they look so grimy every time i pop my head in to have look see.

  • At 8/06/2006 1:24 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Robyn - lol. Need I remind you about City Bakery? Trust me. You have all the fun (annoying food allergies aside).

    Hi Austin - The number of bakeries with Bread in the title is pretty confusing I agree. And yes, we do have Bread Top in Sydney as well.

    Hi Mark - There's a Bread Top in Cabramatta (I'm not sure wherabouts you are).

    The yam and taro was my favourite I think, with the Hero Choc a close second.

    Hi Sharon - I'm a big St Honore devotee. I also pop into Emperor's Garden for their Cossack Foal and florentines (except I just noticed they've recently gone up in price from $1.30 to $1.50!).

    Thanks for making your first comment! I'm so glad you did. It's always nice to hear a few words from who's reading the site. I'm glad you're finding the site useful too. I love having an excuse to justify my gluttony!

    Hi M - Happy feasting! No, alas I haven't been to either of those. I am really keen to get to Buon Ricordo though. It's all just a matter of scheduling, and ah, er, finances.

    Hi tytty - I didn't realise that there was a marked preference between the two in Malaysia. I wonder if it's just because it's "imported" that it's so popular? Bread Top do seem to have more savoury-type items and more things for takeaway at-home consumption it seems. At least in their Sydney stores anyway.

    That's an interesting observation about Chatswood and Maxim's though. You're probably right. Maybe you should just ask next time?

    Hi thanh7580 - We do have Bread Top in Sydney as well. They are different chains (see tytty's comment) but are somewhat similar in vein.

    Food has definitely been elevated in status these days. We have too much of it I suppose, so now it's all about selling "an experience" or "an emotional reward".

    Hi Julia - They have about 80 different products I think in total, so this isn't even half of it!

    Thanks for your comment and glad you're enjoying the blog.

    Hi gobsmack'd - Point taken. I do find myself getting bored with the offerings at St Honore though. Variety is the spice of life I say!

    Thanks for the feedback on BR and BM. I'll have to prioritise that booking at Buon Ricordo.

    Hi Deborah - I hear you on that one. Smeared perspex is never a good look. I think I would prefer if they were on some kind of tray like St Honore?

    There are still some things yet to try. For research purposes only, of course.

  • At 8/06/2006 1:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with Thanh - I think that Melbourne's Bread Top is almost exactly the same thing - in fact, I recognize those flavours and flavour combinations you describe!

    As for the weirdly-soft bread thing, I think it might be an Asian bread thing - when I was living in Korea, the bakeries I visited had an amazing array of products - but all of them (even the plain 'milk' loaf) had that same soft chewiness and absolutely no definition in texture :/

  • At 8/06/2006 1:43 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Ellie - Nope Bread Top is a whole other chain of bakeries, although their offerings are somewhat similar.

    Asian bakeries do tend to have a preference for soft sweet white breads. We used to go crazy in Hong Kong looking for real bread that had a crust and wasn't soft, white and excessively sweet! I suppose everyone has their own idiosyncracies. Just think of the Italians shaking their head at how "overcooked" Westerners like their risotto and pasta!

  • At 8/06/2006 7:36 am, Blogger tytty said…

    oh helen, malaysia doesn't have bread top, the singapore import one i was talking about is bread *talk* .. haha, i know, why is everyone putting "bread" in their names?

    malaysians prefer bread talk over bread story just because it's clearly better

    bread story is pretty and all, but just lacking the oomphhh .. same with the store at Chinatown although I'm sure there're a few nice selected few

    ahh i sound so critical .. {;

  • At 8/07/2006 12:00 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi tytty - Argh. You are right. Too many "Bread" stores for my brain to cope with!

    Okay so now I will have to wait to see if Break *Talk* will make it over here. Argh. So much confusion!

  • At 8/08/2006 12:21 pm, Blogger Babe_KL said…

    gee a malaysian bakery in downunder?? hahaha i really cant imagine this. seriously not all their buns are nice but i supposed they sell based on the cuteness of the buns. oh yeah dont bother with their cakes, its almost always very dry and flaky.

  • At 8/08/2006 12:55 pm, Blogger Loney Kitchen said…

    This reminds me of a shop called "Bread Talk" in Manila. They have the cutest breads I've ever seen.

  • At 8/09/2006 12:13 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi babe_kl - We are just one big multicultural mixing pot Down Under. A tasty one too!

    Hi lonelykitchen - You're now the 3rd person to mention Bread Talk. Argh. My curiosity has been piqued!

  • At 8/22/2006 8:17 pm, Blogger DEe said…

    BreadTalk, is a Singapore bread/bun chain. They have begun outlets outside of Singapore. It was one of the first "bread boutiques" and very much "borrowed" as a business model for bread shops. BUT GENERALLY the bread is much lighter and sweeter, and just not as satisfying as a good european style multigrain roll, with some cheese. In my opinion anyways.. Just too expensive for bread. a hot dog bun thats mostly air would set me back at least $1.50. much rather microwave a hot dog and roll it in some sliced white bread for the same taste. poor student perspective i suppose. heehee

  • At 8/22/2006 11:05 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Dee - The hot dog + bun microwave trick was a common lunch for me in times gone by.

    I tend to view these items as sweet treats rather than as a meal. And when most cakes in Sydney cafes and bakeries start at $3-$5, these little tidbits don't look too bad at all.

  • At 3/18/2007 6:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BreadTalk by far is the best boutique bread in my opinion. I come from Indonesia and you should have seen the long queue in BreadTalk stores in Jakarta, waiting for 20 minutes sometimes even longer just to pick those mouth-watering bread.

    the flagship bread of BreadTalk is actually a simple pork floss bun, which comes in regular and hot taste. you may think, we have pork floss buns here in Sydney, so what's the difference. I found that the bun is very fluffy and soft coated with moist pork floss which blends well with the bread, unlike other pork floss buns that stuck in-between your teeth.

    BreadTalk is the first boutique bakery concept which has revolutionized the old-style bakery with its see-through baking room, unique bread naming and clear glass display, even the frosted plastic bag design. Bread Story and BreadTop are just a follower. I miss my Crouching Tiger Hidden Bacon and of course, hot pork floss buns.


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