OWhen I first walk into Beyond Pastry Studio’s new spot downtown, Cristina Nishioka doesn’t want to talk about her pastries. So I’ll make it for her: First, there’s her ube cream cheese ensaymada, a soft spiral of bread intertwined with ube jam that she makes with fresh local purple yam. Unlike most ube used elsewhere, which are often just food coloring and artificial flavoring, her ube is a soft purple and just as sweet. (Ube in its natural form, it turns out, is more like yamaimo, subtle and slippery, than a purple, starchy, sugary sweet potato.)
Then there’s his Mango Pineapple Spanish Roll, born from excess mango, with a sweet and tangy jam nestled in a fluffy batter dusted with breadcrumbs. Neither is too sweet (“Is ‘not too sweet’ the nicest compliment a Chinese can give to a dessert?” a baker friend recently mused), and paired with an afternoon cup of coffee, they go away too quickly. I love these modern versions of Filipino breads, which are too rare. Nishioka’s friends encouraged her to come up with a Filipino pastry box – I support this motion.
The contents of the pastry case change frequently, ranging from a frangipane plum pie to a Portuguese sausage and a furikake cookie. Once Nishioka gets her bearings on the new space, she’ll bring back her cheesecakes, which she debuted back in her pop-up days and sold out immediately every time she released them.
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But what Nishioka really wants to talk about: the afterlife. Beyond Pastry Studio is not a bakery. Or, at least, it’s not just a bakery. It is also an art studio. At the front of the shop are now on display ceramics by Devin Oishi and vintage wares by Midcenturyattic’s Bryzane Lagmay and Joel Malicdem, who helped Nishioka build some of the furniture in his space.
Upon entering Beyond Pastry, you’ll also notice the open production kitchen – in about a month, Nishioka plans to launch hands-on bakery and pastry workshops. Although she’s built a clientele around her baked goods, that’s not her goal, she says. His hope is to create a community of bakers and to forge bonds between people of all disciplines. The workshops focus on developing baking skills as well as a team building exercise. After all, what better way to bring people together in the hobby we’ve turned to for comfort amid the pandemic? That way, the woman who ran the Stand Against Hate bake boxes earlier this year hopes we can all, pun intended, rise together.
Beyond Pastry’s baked goods will be part of a special box of Filipino pastries to celebrate Filipino American History Month in October. Other participating bakers are Heather Lukela from Slice by HB Baking, Harley Tunac from the local general store, Gino Ojano and Yimmy Kwok from Fig & Ginger Honolulu. The order is made by pre-order online at Beyond Pastry website starting at 9 a.m. on October 12. Pickup is at 1067 Alakea St. on October 16. Quantities are limited.