Japan has a baking tradition that goes all the way back to the 16th-century Portuguese. But the Portland area has never seen it until this year. Beaverton's Oyatsupan Bakers, which opened in May, is devoted to "oyatsu pan" snack breads that might range from savory, curry-filled doughnut to matcha shortbread. Its owner and executive baker, Hiroyuki Horie, worked at Japanese bakery company Pasco Shikishima for 25 years before transferring to Portland and noticing he couldn't get his home country's bread here.
Well, thank God that's over.
In Oyatsupan's beautiful cream puffs, a light shell of brioche just barely contains a gushing abundance of airy cream in which you can see actual bits of vanilla bean. A pastry boat might put strawberries, chocolate shards and heavenly rich custard in the tub. A swirled, chocolate-filled cornet with cute chocolate eyes was described by a workmate as looking like a "turd monster," but tasted like mousse on butter bread. The shortbreads were the only shortcoming; they were a little dry. The best treat, though, was the anpan—a red-bean sweet roll perfectly marrying savory and sweet, crisp and gooey.
The sweets aren't cheap, though. In the clean-lined shop filled with ingeniously designed grab-and-go pastry cases—the lid slides above the case so you don't have to hold it open—the doughnuts and pastries cost Blue Star prices ($2.50-$3.50). But the flavors can make you wonder why Tokyo ever needed Blue Star doughnuts at all.
Oyatsupan is even better for lunch. A pork tonkatsu sandwich ($6.80 with salad) comes as a British-style tea sandwich—crusts cut off and everything—except the bread is buttery pan bread, the chicken-fried pork within covered in sweet-savory katsu sauce. The curry soup ($3) plumbs cavernous depths of flavor, with beef in every bite—the chili of Japan for chilly autumn afternoons. You can also get the curry as a delicious filling in a lightly glazed pastry crisped up with a layer of panko. And then there's the hot dog served not in bun but pastry, with stone-ground mustard baked on; the ham and cheese baked within the folds of a fluffy croissant; and the city's finest take on the jalapeño popper, with a wealth of cream cheese, cheddar and swiss baked with peppers into a French-style batard.
And the best thing? If you order fresh-made food, Oyatsupan will deliver it to the beer bar next door, so you can drink while you wait. Pure genius.
Oyatsupan Bakers, 16025 SW Regatta Lane, Beaverton, 503-941-5251, oyatsupan.com. 7 am-6 pm Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday, 9 am-3 pm Sunday.