Motivated by the city’s eagerness to try new flavors and embrace trends, Asian bakers in Portland are constantly innovating, diving deep into ingredients that evoke nostalgia and a sense of place. Influenced and inspired by their surroundings, upbringings and ethnic backgrounds, these creative bakers produce treats like yuzu-infused Chantilly cream or chewy rice flour doughnuts brightened by the purple hue of Filipino ube.
From ambitious culinary professionals to curious, talented novices, Portland’s Asian American pastry chefs explore cultural fusion and identity through their creations. Whether setting up booths at local vendor fairs or operating out of restaurants on their days off, entrepreneurs test their concepts anywhere they can. Each trip to Portland can uncover a new set of culinary creations to try, giving you plenty of unique, memorable options to snack on that will have you dreaming of desserts well past your departure.
St. Barbra Pinoy Bakery
Serving up crave-able eats since 2016, St. Barbra Pinoy Bakery, located near Portland State University, was the first Filipino bakery in Portland. Visitors craving Filipino comfort foods can call in advance for savory items like pancit (fried noodles) and adobong manok (chicken stew), served alongside classic Filipino pastries. This no-frills, modestly decorated bakery boasts shelves lined with plenty of pandesal — buttery breakfast bread rolled in toasted bread crumbs — and rich cheesecake slices flavored with ube. The menu at St. Barbra’s is stacked and rotates often, so there’s no telling what surprises will wind up on the menu any given day.
St. Barbra is the post-retirement project of owner Bob Osilla. His idea of “retiring” from the corporate world involved returning to community college for a culinary program specializing in baking. “Filipino bread and pastries are a conglomeration of cultures that [influenced] our country,” he explains. Osilla is proud to contribute to the wealth of Asian and Pacific food culture in Portland, noting that the city is one of the best in America for new gastronomic experiences.
Mikiko Mochi Donuts
Mikiko Mochi Donuts is a bright space in the Kerns neighborhood, where chewy mochi doughnuts contribute to the growing number of gluten-free and allergy-friendly bakeries in the city. The wide variety of flavors speaks to co-owner Emily Mikiko Strocher’s mixed-race Asian background. Here, rice flour doughnuts come garnished with eccentric, playful ingredients like yuzu Funfetti and POG (passionfruit, orange, guava). Or, they’ll feature Asian tweaks on American flavors. A modern classic maple bacon doughnut is accented with lapsang souchong tea, and pumpkin doughnuts get a boost of five spice. “Dietary considerations aside, we don’t tend to limit ourselves to a certain framework beyond monthly themes. We draw on anything and everything that comprises our lived experiences and sounds like it might be tasty in doughnut form,” explains Strocher.
Strocher and co-owner Alex McGillivray are excited to be a part of what they deem “an Asian American food renaissance” of sorts. “There is so much more interest today than ever, and the creative soul of Portland shines through these brilliant young chefs and creators,” they say.
Seeing the storefront of Jinju Patisserie empty on a weekend morning is rare. Minutes before opening, eager weekenders form lines outside, waiting to munch on multi-layered croissants filled with chocolate and matcha cream. Regulars rely on owners Jin Caldwell and Kyurim Lee for their consistently remarkable classic French desserts, like bonbons and eclairs. However, many also follow Jinju on Instagram religiously for their limited-batch releases, like kouign-amanns — multi-layered bread cakes filled with passion fruit vanilla curd and whipped cream — or croissants topped with bulgogi, kimchi and gochujang.
Caldwell and Lee met in Las Vegas, where the two French-trained pastry chefs worked among other world-renowned businesses in the trade. When Jinju opened in Portland in 2019, their offerings were an instant hit. “We are very passionate about our creations and how the quality remains consistent,” Caldwell says.
With lines out the door and daily offerings that sell out regularly, Jinju has made a special place for itself in the Asian American pastry scene in Portland. “We’ve met so many talented Asian bakers and chefs in Portland and are lucky to be a part of it all,” she confirms. “We love the support we give each other.”
Made like nowhere else in Portland, these often sold-out specialty dishes center heritage recipes and East and Southeast Asian cultural experiences.
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