Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Southern Gem: Hi Bear! Ube and Charcoal Pandesal

Don't you love how many new small businesses opened and flourished during the lockdown? I've virtually met several young entrepreneurs who open their shops and pursue their passions. Many even dabbled into offering the most raved dishes this 2020. And speaking of hypes, one of the food items people cannot seem to get over with is ube cheese pandesal. I've tried a handful, but one of my top picks is Hi Bear.

Hello, Hi Bear!

Hi Bear is the brainchild of Jace Velasco, a self-branded "wanna-be" baker. But one bite of her stuffed pandesal will make you think otherwise. 

I loved how Hi Bear encourages its customers to try more than one flavor with its set menu. This adorable shop currently has five sets to choose from-- Royal Ube Set (Ube Pan with Halaya Cheese and Ube Pan with Cheese), Noir Set (Charcoal Pan with Black Sesame Cream and Charcoal Pan with Cream Cheese), Pan de Luxe (Ube Pan with Cheese and Charcoal Pan with Black Sesame Cream), Double Luxe (Ube Pan with Halaya Cheese and Charcoal with Cream Cheese) and Bear's Choice (Random Bread Combination). Each set comes with three pieces per flavor except for Bear's choice that is selected randomly. One box of 6 costs PHP180.

I got Bear's Choice and was lucky to try all four flavors! 

The first thing I noticed was how soft each pandesal was. A small touch could put a tiny dent on it! But what made each one a winner in my book was the generous filling of cheese,  ube halaya, black sesame cream, and cream cheese. 

Despite not heating the bread, the cheese remained soft. I thoroughly enjoyed the sharp taste of it. It went so well with the ube pandesal.

If you prefer something with a more pronounced ube taste, go with its Ube Pan with Halaya Cheese. (But I liked the first one more as it was less sweet.)

Charcoal pandesal was not as pillowy soft as its ube counterpart. Its texture was a bit closer to the classic pandesal

Its cream cheese variant was pretty good. But it was its sweet black sesame cream version that made me fall head over heels in love with Hi Bear! 

Think of the well-loved buchi but in bread form. Best to have this heated though so that the cream melts.

Jace, you are one fantastic baker! Thank you for making me understand the hype behind this stuffed pandesal trend.

To order, visit Hi Bear on Instagram. Its products are baked every Saturday and delivered on the same day. Its kitchen is in Las PiƱas. Best to order more than one set as one box will make you not want to share.

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