The Flatiron district is as diverse as New York itself. This bustling neighborhood features popular restaurants, dynamic retail, superb educational institutions, and architectural highlights. The district is just a short stroll from either Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station.
Paris Baguette is an Asian bakery/cafe that specializes in "French-inspired" coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods. The croissants are right next to the red bean buns for an interesting mix of cultures and cuisines.
Chang-sung Hur, credited as the man who introduced bread to South Korea, opened a small bakery named Sangmidang in 1945. Through that single bakery, Hur announced a cream-filled pastry that was so delicious, and made with such high standards, that not only Koreans but US military men lined up to purchase new batches. Many years later, he was determined to launch another product with just as much success. What he finally perfected was the "Hobbang." The Hobbang is a mass-produced steam bun filled with bean paste. While this may not seem impressive to anyone who has visited Asia in the last decade and seen packaged steam buns, it was a considerable feat at the time that took him and his team over two years to figure out. There was no model for how to keep the bun moist and fresh, while not having the bun stick to the packaging.
Eventually, he found a way and Hobbang was unveiled to the world. The small bakery grew into a huge brand that swelled into many locations but according to some, started to stagnate. When he passed away, the company was left to his son, Hur Young-In who stepped into the role, starting with a plate of cream puffs served at his father's funeral. The younger Hur followed the Parisian example and started baking baguettes and other French-inspired goods. In 1988 the first store carrying the "Paris Baguette" name launched under the same parent company and has been expanding ever since.
The Flatiron location is a great place to get a pastry, coffee, or any of the many teas available. The prices are affordable, and the foods provide an interesting mix of French and Korean options. Small tables are the perfect setting for a midday powwow or a quick look at your laptop.
This location opted for the Korean method of purchasing baked goods. Walk into the store, and the first thing you'll see is a stack of trays and tongs placed before a line of pastry displays. Order like a pro by grabbing a tray, placing a piece of wax paper (found below the display cases) on top of the tray. Then use a set of tongs to grab any pastries or sandwiches you'd like. The first set of display cases are full of items like almond croissants, cream-filled bread, and red bean buns. The next case will be sandwiches, sides, and anything else that requires refrigeration. Lastly, you'll find a case of beautifully decorated cakes.
Once you're ready, take the whole tray up to the counter and finish the order by telling the cashier if you'd like any hot food items. And don't forget a coffee or tea!
Cover Photo Credit: Nikki Yeager