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Dear Sheng Kee Bakery: Look, you're really cute but...

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MARCH 01, 2013

Sheng Kee Bakery has struck up some intense competition in the local area, and the Clog is uncertain of how much longer UCafe and what we call the Boba Trifecta can take Sheng Kee’s b***shit.

Sashaying out of nowhere as the new “big thing” on Telegraph, the bakery has already started to form a cult following. Showing off its gleaming, cute Asian breads and pastries, a concept UCafe claims it obviously had first dibs on. And — “Oh, look at this piece of work,” sneers the Boba Trifecta — being soooo innovative with its easily recognizable, squat plastic cups for its milk and green teas. Dude, boba in Berkeley is supposed to be, like, solely dominated by Quickly, Sweethearts and Mocaccino Cafe. Is S.K.B. fo’real?

It has only been several days since Sheng Kee Bakery has opened up as a neighbor to The Toaster Oven sandwich shop, and it has received a huge mass of attention and love from hungry college students. The brightly lit and warm interior has been seen many times throughout the day filled with backpack-clad folks who eagerly inhale the heavenly aromas. The Clog has seen, in mild awe, the hurried employees yell over their shoulders, “Tiger milk tea with boba! Make that two! Wait, no — five!” as the orders poured in. S.K.B. has been doing well, well enough that the Clog decided to check it out and see if the hype has something more to latch onto than simply the bakery’s novelty.

The conclusion?
We think S.K.B. is adorable and will probably continue to have great business, but the Clog thought perhaps most of what they offered were average and overpriced for what was offered. We know that Asian bakeries typically do this, and that nowadays we are somehow even willing to pay $3.50 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but maybe that’s the problem and things need to start being actually worth their quality. Here are a few of the many we tried out:

  1. Tiramisu cake: It was decent. It was moist and soft. We wanted to believe so badly that it was maybe one of the best pieces of tiramisu cake any of us had ever tried. We tried, we really tried. However, the $3 deficit for a thin slice of unspectacular cake was not necessarily worth it.
  2. Peach green tea: Love the fat plastic cup because it’s cute, but we also accidentally ended up dropping the half-full thing because it was hard to hold. The great thing about the tea itself was that it was legitimate green tea and the true earthy taste was obvious, but maybe too obvious. It was quite bitter and the peach syrup they squirted in did nothing to sweeten the drink.
  3. Apple turnover: $1.89, not bad. However, the pastry was skimpy on the apple part of “apple turnover” and so we had basically bought $1.89 worth of flaky, croissant-like bread. Hey, twelve Costco croissants (those are so good) are like $7. Worth the money? Not really.

Some confusing labeling led us to purchase pastries different from the ones we had intended to get:

  1. Indian passion with curried beef: The name was wonderfully hilarious and was a large part of the reason we nabbed it, only to discover with huge disappointment that it didn’t have anything Indian about it, no curried beef and not an ounce of passion exchanged from either the bread or from the Clog member who sadly stared at her purchase after biting into it.
  2. Chocolate-filled bun: What we bought turned out to be just a butter pastry. No offense to butter, but come on.

The Clog will be fair, however. We did love a couple of things, and we’d like to share them:

  1. Milk tea (all of them): The winning fact is that S.K.B. offers real, rich milk tea, not powdered ones like the Boba Trifecta seems to do. This significantly impacted the taste of the drink. Lightly and deliciously sweet, the drink was generous in portion size and so good. The boba is also pretty decent and chewy.
  2. Strawberry and vanilla triangle sponge cake: So soft and so quickly devoured. It was filling and would make an excellent snack. Between the two airy and plump sponge cake layers was a thin layer of sweet cream, which added the perfect touch of real sugary sweetness to the pastry.

Sheng Kee, don’t take it personally. You’ll be fine and the Clog is kind of getting hooked on your milk teas. We’ll keep coming for your $2.99 teas, but maybe consider making sure customers can purchase Indian passion when they want Indian passion.

Image source: Eunice Choi, Daily Cal

Contact Eunice Choi at 


MARCH 01, 2013