FOOD SEOUL

Seoul Eats | Cruffins at Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Korea

March 31, 2017

seoul // mr. holmes bakehouse cruffin

One of the final destinations on my culinary food tour of Seoul was the much coveted and overly-instagrammed bakery, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. We just missed the cruffin craze when it hit SF a couple of years after we left and we never had the time (or patience) to wait in line to try one whenever we returned to visit, so when the first international Mr. Holmes Bakehouse opened in Seoul, I raised my eyebrows. Perhaps there would be cruffins in our future after all.

The last time we were in Seoul we made our first attempt to obtain, and eat, the elusive cruffin. We had heard first-hand from several Seou-ites that the lines weren’t very long, and/or that there were oftentimes no lines at all, so we spent a good portion of our evening, traveling across town on a cruffin run. By the time we arrived, there were not only no cruffins to be found, but there were no consolation baked goods of any kind left to purchase. Before leaving, Sly asked if I wanted to at least take a photo in front of their stupid neon sign, but of course I didn’t. That would have been cheating. 

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A couple years back, when cronuts were the new “it” pastry, I tried a knock-off, version from a no name bakery. It made me gag and it sort of turned me off of any sort of glorified baked good with a name that combined two things. Like croissant and doughnut. Or croissant and muffin. 

I’m positive a “real” cronut is amazing, which is why people wait in line for hours to get one, but these days, I’m wholeheartedly against the entire mentality of coveting something to the point of getting up at the crack of dawn, waiting in line for several hours, and then, after all that, risking not getting what you came for because it sold out. Which is what happened to us the first time we attempted to buy a cruffin from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, though our failure at obtaining a cronut was probably just. We arrived an hour after the cruffins were “released” and never paid our dues by waiting in line. Obviously we did not belong to the rarefied cruffin elite. There would be no photo of a cruffin on my Instagram that night, and the world would silently weep.

But seriously, must every baked good on the planet require a wait-time of 2 hours and a per person limit on how many can be purchased? And must every visit to said bakery require a mandatory post to social media? More importantly, is any baked good on the planet, worth this level of dedication to procure?

Even though I felt negatively about buying into the hype, the fact is I did. I still spent nearly two hours on the subway to travel to and from Mr. Holmes Bakery just for the privilege of buying – and eating…and yes, instgramming — a $5 croissant. My curiosity got the best of me, and since it was late in the morning on a weekday, I figured that it was as good as time as any to avoid any lines and lay my cruffin desires to rest once and for all.

While Sly toiled away in his last meeting of the day, I rode to Gagnam to pick up some cruffins from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, though I think we all know that I wasn’t planning on leaving with just cruffins. There were still plenty of cruffins left, and in more flavors than I anticipated. I chose my allotted ration of two cruffins (chocolate mint and pineapple) as well as two brioche donuts (salted caramel and what we think was cheesecake?). Then I proceeded to take a billion photos of the poor pastries while resisting every urge to eat them all and go back for seconds. Has I done so, would I have even been allowed me to purchase more cruffins? 

The entire cruffin excursion was more than a bit ridiculous, but I suppose now I can brag to everyone that I’ve had a cruffin (and have the photos to prove it!), and anyway I’m sure that by the time I post this, another pastry hybrid will have taken social media by storm. 

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy my box of baked goods, because they were indeed very delicious. I’m only saying that, given the choice, I’d still prefer a box of Shipley’s glazed do-nuts, fresh and hot right out of the oven, and at $8.50 a dozen (if my mom doesn’t have a coupon, which of course, she always does), is less than half of what I paid for four highly photogenic pastries. Not to mention, no line, no hype, and absolutely no photos. Perhaps my tastes are too old fashioned, too basic, for today’s trendy pastries. Or maybe I just prefer no-frills baked good that make for a lasting, lifelong, food memory instead of just a passing fad.

DETAILS

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse | CUISINE: Fancy bakery | COST: ~$5 per cruffin | LOCATION: Gangnam (main outpost) | DESCRIPTION: If you live in Seoul (or San Francisco), you’ve probably seen plenty of photos taken in front of a neon sign that reads, “I got baked in ____ “(fill in the blank with Seoul or San Francisco). Apparently this is the place to “get baked.” Mr.  Holmes Bakehouse first opened in San Francisco, which is how I originally heard about it, with the Seoul location(s) being their first, and so far, only, international store. While Mr. Holmes Bakehouse pumps out a variety of baked goods, they are most known for their “cruffin” which is a croissant forced into a muffin shape, and injected with a rotating menu of creme fillings. The cruffins are released into the wild twice daily, and if you follow them on IG, you can keep up with the various flavors of the day/week. | VERDICT: While the cruffins were really delicious, they didn’t exactly live up to my wild expectations. Texture wise, I think I expected the cruffin to be a mixture of a cruffin and a muffin, instead of a coiled up, cream-filled croissant. Unless I’m missing something, I’m not sure that really qualifies it as a hybrid. Like I said, these are for sure delicious pastries, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to eat them and certainly would never wait in line. I would definitely return if I was in the neighborhood, or if maybe if I needed to bring some desserts to a party of people I cared about impressing. I preferred the brioche doughnut over the cruffin, but overall, when it comes to croissants, I still prefer my plain old boring standby, pain chocolat. A well-made chocolate croissant is hard to beat. 

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16 Comments

  • Reply Kevin April 3, 2017 at 8:08 am

    You, cup of cruffin…
    I’ve sifted your storied goods.
    I’ll take a good glaze.

    Keeping Good Thoughts…

    • Reply veronika April 4, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Haiku Man strikes again! I’ll take a good glaze too!

  • Reply Funnelcloud Rachel April 3, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    I’m impressed that you were able to take so many photos before eating them!

    A few weeks ago we finally tried Sugar Shack donuts – and they were horrible! Like stale bread in the middle. I’ll take a DD any day over that. Plus, there are like 4,378 more fancy donut shops within driving distance of NoVa.

    • Reply veronika April 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Is Sugar Shack the one in Old Town? I mean if you are gonna have a gourmet donut shop and charge like $5 a donut, that shit best be damn good. At least the cruffin was delicious, if not overly hyped.

      Have you ever tried Doughnut Plant in NYC? It’s an older pre-instagram place with unique flavors (and pistachio milk) but damn the donuts were so good.

      • Reply Funnelcloud Rachel April 8, 2017 at 1:58 am

        Yes, the first local one was in Old Town and I had remember hearing that there were lines on weekends and they sold out early, and I was like “oh hell no.” Going to Old Town early on a weekend is not my idea of fun. But then a second one opened up on Columbia Pike, so we finally tried it. I was so confused. It didn’t have any more ambiance than a Dunkin Donuts, and the donuts were terrible and the flavors were not creative.

        On the other hand, we love Astro Donuts in Falls Church. I wish it had opened before we were vegetarian because they also serve fried chicken. And biscuits. And FRIED CHICKEN DONUT SANDWICHES. It’s pretty much torture to go in there. Also, there’s a vegan donut place called Glory Donuts in Frederick and those are freaking delicious.

        • Reply veronika April 8, 2017 at 8:24 am

          It’s kind of hard to f up a donut shop, don’t you think? I always seem to prefer the old school donut shops from the 60s over newfangled ones like Sugar Shack. The only gourmet donut place I’ve eaten at in VA was a shop in Richmond. I ate four fancy donuts by myself…🐷

          I’ve heard of Astro Donuts – always wanted to try it. Man there are so many places I can’t wait to try when we go back. My sis just told me about a badass Mexican place in Fairfax that opened recently near our home. Made me drool thinking about it…

          Have you ever had DC cupcakes? Cupcakes are another trend baked good that never really lives up to the hype for me (Sprinkles cupcakes were good, not mind blowing. Same with Magnolia bakery). I’ve never tried DC cupcakes because I was never gonna wait in line.

          • Funnelcloud Rachel April 8, 2017 at 3:05 pm

            There is a DC cupcake shop that lives up to the hype: Baked & Wired. Seriously, perhaps my favorite treat in DC. (But I do have a sweet tooth and I love cake. And I’ve never had Sprinkles or Magnolia, so I can’t compare. And after discovering B&W I don’t really need to try cupcakes from anywhere else.) I didn’t even know cupcakes could be that good. They’re f’ing awesome. Larry brings home a half dozen for Valentine’s Day every year. (He’s pretty obsessed with them, too, and he doesn’t usually get excited about these things.) These are not your run-of-the-mill cartoon-looking cupcakes with four inches of tooth-dissolving frosting on top. In fact, they call them “cake cups” which is kind of more accurate because they’re freaking huge and the cake-to-frosting ratio is perfection. Our favorites are the Strawberry and the Texas Sheet Cake, but I’ve never had a bad flavor there. Around the corner from B&W is the overhyped Georgetown Cupcake. There’s always a ridiculous line of tourists waiting to get in and we walk by keeping the secret that the best cupcakes are just a block away.

            I’ve probably overhyped it now, but seriously, next time you’re back in DC go to Baked & Wired. DO IT! (And also go to Astro and eat some fried chicken for me!)

            And speaking of food, I thought of you tonight when Larry and I stopped in your home-away-from-home: MOM’s in Mosaic! 🙂 There was still plenty of cricket sauce on the shelf.

          • veronika April 12, 2017 at 9:22 am

            You had me at “Texas Sheet Cake.” I am also not a fan of too much frosting. Gross. A cupcake (or cake) should be more about the cake, not the gross stuff on top. Too sweet and too buttery! I’ll add B&W to my need-to-try-when-we’re-back-in-dc list. Georgetown cupcake is what I was thinking of when I said DC cupcake, I think. The one that had a reality show? I never watched but the cupcakes didn’t look great.

            Speaking of cupcakes, a frickin Magnolia bakery opened here! What? First off, cupcakerys aren’t easy to find in KR (Asians seem to prefer a more spongey type of cake) and second, THE Magnolia? I’m not 100% convinced it’s the same place, but I walked by yesterday and it certainly seemed so.

            I miss my old haunts at the Mosaic. I swear it was like a second home to us. Haha we are so lame. Still haven’t tried the cricket sauce my sis gave me…saving it for a special occasion… 😄

          • Funnelcloud Rachel April 12, 2017 at 11:51 am

            ’14 Dishes You Need to Try Before You Can Call Yourself a DC Foodie’ was in WaPo today: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/going-out-guide/wp/2017/04/11/the-essential-dishes-all-washingtonians-should-try/?hpid=hp_local-news_gog-1045am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.6b23dd616cd0 The creme brûlée donut at Astro and Baked & Wired cupcakes made the list! Ha! I feel vindicated! Actually, I think it’s kind of weird that donuts and cupcakes are on a foodie list – I mean they’re delicious treats, but they’re not really a unique/regional/foodie food. Still, In my pre-veg days, I would’ve printed out this list and made a mission to eat all the things that I hadn’t tasted yet.

            I can’t wait to hear what special occasion you’re saving the cricket sauce for! Speaking of bugs, Larry and I were just watching Bizarre Foods and there was a segment on dung beetles. You know, I try to be open minded and I think bugs are a great/low cost/plentiful/accessible protein source that can solve a lot of the world’s hunger problems…though, admittedly I don’t really want to be the one who has to eat them. I realize this is the effect of the culture I was raised in and I also realize that there really isn’t any difference between eating an insect vs a mammal – they’re all living creatures. But DUNG beetles. No. I actually got the dry heaves watching them pick the beetles out of piles of shit. Regardless of culture, I don’t think anyone should have to eat something that lives in/eats poop!

            Did you eat tuna eye in Japan? I couldn’t do that either.

          • veronika April 13, 2017 at 7:48 am

            I’ve actually eaten at a good number of those (older) places! Interesting. But yeah unless the cupcake or donut is something different then it seems like it shouldn’t really be on the list. Then again, pho is on the list, and you can get that most anywhere?

            I’ve seen cookies made with cricket flour. It doesn’t seem bad at all. The sauce is made from a cricket protein which is kind of like a processed tofu like form, so I’m not bothered at all by it. Now if I had a sauce with whole worms suspended in it or big beetles…nooooo. I don’t think I could do roaches or beetles. Crickets and worms (if they arent like silk worms in soup type of thing), yes. Dung beetles, no.

          • Funnelcloud Rachel April 12, 2017 at 11:52 am

            And by vindicated, I meant validated! 😉

          • Funnelcloud Rachel April 13, 2017 at 11:52 am

            I saw that they’re now using crickets to make bitters for cocktails, and I totally want to try it! I saw one on an online menu for a place in DC the other day. Also, there was ant mayonnaise on Bizarre Foods that looked delicious. I guess I’m game if the bugs are hidden, but any kind of crunchy thoraxes floating around in my food and I’m out!

          • veronika April 14, 2017 at 10:50 am

            One of the most popular dishes in Cambodia was a crispy fried tarantula – served only at upscale places where only foreigners ate. I wanted to try it but since I felt sick the entire trip, we decided not to risk it with the more exotic foods. (I ate a lot of fries and chicken nuggets from hotel room service that trip.)

            On another note: I ate a silkworm last night!!!!! I never like to say that food other people find to be tasty is “gross,” so I’ll just say it was not something I’d ever eat again unless it was prepared differently or unless I was at someone’s house and they offered it to me. It tasted exactly the way I thought it would taste which is how it smells cooking: very very earthy and dirt-like. The texture, which I thought was going to be challenging, was actually not that bad – kinda chewy like chicken-chewy.

        • Reply veronika April 8, 2017 at 8:29 am

          OH! And on the subject of donuts – I think I already mentioned this but the open air market in Kyoto ( the touristy one in guidebooks ) has a shop that sells bags of tiny soy donuts. There’s a line but it moves fast. Maybe I was starving but I went back for seconds. Cheap, hot, tasty. Also in that same market I feel like you’ll be able to find the strawberry mochi. Just a tip: don’t go on a weekend. It’s sooooo crowded with tourists. We called it hell market. If you’re eating ramen, there’s a ton of good shops in that area too. I had a seafood ramen at one place…amazing.

  • Reply Christine April 13, 2017 at 6:45 am

    I’m with you, the more these crazy hybrid trends come out, the more I find myself retreating back to just the good old-fashioned classics done well, and SIMPLE. This is yet another place I refuse to wait in line for…they opened one of these in LA too, and as pretty as the pictures are, and as delicious as they look, I can’t bring myself to make that trek. SF has completely turned me off to waiting in lines, and social media hype makes it even more of a turn off and leads me to believe there’s a greater chance of disappointment. I read two separate articles recently talking about the kolache phenomenon, how people outside the south/midwest had never heard of them (remember when we made a million of them in our apt that one time? lol!) so I’m wondering if we’ll start to see some trendy version of that as well. I’ll take a box of Shipleys or Kolache Factory any day. Oh and as a side note, who else is tired of seeing yolk porn videos on every other Yelp review? It particularly bothers me when they have to stab the egg several times in order to get it to run…

    • Reply veronika April 13, 2017 at 7:41 am

      Cruffins are good, but definitely not wait-in-line-for-an-hour good. I wouldn’t wait 30 minutes TBH. There’s hardly any place I’d wait in line for longer than 30 minutes. Maybe Mama’s in North Beach for sentimental reasons? Otherwise just stop. It’s annoying. And as you mentioned when it’s combined with social media hype omfg. Jeans said that all the trendy restos in SF all require 2-3 hr waits. Noooope. Do people not do reservations anymore?

      I read about how kolaches are the new trendy baked good! Ha! My mom makes a badass kolache (she’s a breadmaster these days) so now I have a new standard of delicious. I can’t imagine how much kolaches will get jacke up in the translation, esp by folks who have never been to TX. Sigh. Why is TX food the best?

      In Asian bakeries in this part of world we get all the variations of hot dog/sausage in soft Asian milk bread. It’s sooooo good. Not the same, obvs, but scratches the itch. Maybe milk bread will be the next trend because besides TX, all the cool food ideas/flavors come outta Asia! 😉

      I have not seen/heard of yolk porn but dude annoying. I hate videos of people ripping bread apart and mangling the bread in the process. Like are you really eating that now? The ice cream cone photo where the ice cream is melting all over a person’s hand also pisses me off. I generally find food blogging like that highly annoying because you know that those bloggers are just wasting that food. No way can someone eat that much ice cream and donuts and still look so gaunt.

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