By Tana Kosiyabong
It was a beautiful Wednesday morning so I decided to walk to work. As I passed by Bon Chaz, a new bakery/café on West Hastings Street, I could smell freshly baked buns in the air. Suddenly I felt as if the delightful aroma had transformed into a giant hand; It grabbed me by the arm and dragged me inside. Since I had no breakfast yet, I went along with it.
A friendly staff greeted me as I walked in. She also offered me a free sample. The bun was so soft and delicious I wanted to start my Cheap Appetite mission right then and there. Unfortunately, I had to go to work. So I bought a couple of buns and rushed out the door. Lacking self-control over yummy substances, I shamelessly shoved one of the buns in my mouth as I hurried to the office. “Oh my… Melted French truffle. I’ve gotta come back this weekend,” I told myself.
Saturday morning had finally come. I headed out as soon as I finished my morning routine. Bon Chaz is located next to the Academie Duello (a swordplay school), and opposite to the Church of Scientology. The bakery is also a block west of the Vancouver Herb Museum (in Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters) where psychoactive “herb” and hallucinogens exhibits. Boy, what an “eclectic” neighborhood I’ve lived in!
I arrived at Bon Chaz around 11 am. When I was about to order, I realized I had no money with me. “Dammit,” I swore as I hurried home for the wallet. Fifteen minutes later, I was back again. Now fully equipped with a twenty dollar bill, I ordered a freshly baked French Truffle Bon Chaz ($1.75*) and a cup of coffee ($1.95*). Bon Chaz buns come in three varieties–plain ($1.25*), French truffle, and banana walnut ($1.75*). These buns are a hybrid of Conchas (Mexican buns) and Brioche (French buns). The top crust was covered with a thin layer of crispy coffee cookie. The bun itself was soft, almost cloud like. It was warm and slightly sweet. Once bitten into the melted dark chocolate filling, I was high without any cannabis.
A moment later, the staff also brought me an empty cup and a 16 oz coffee in a French press pot. I was so in awe by what I saw I lost my words. “Is this the $1.95 coffee I ordered?” I asked the staff after I got thought straight. Sure enough it was mine. For the price, all I expected was just a cup of pre-brewed coffee. When she told me to take a seat while she made me a pot, I didn’t expect it was all mine. The organic coffee beans were freshly ground to order. The coffee tasted really good. For the first time, I could taste the subtle sweetness in natural coffee which I never had with the typical pre-brewed coffee. To savor the pure coffee flavor, I drank the first half black. Then I finished off the second half with cream and sugar.
While I was still working on the coffee, I ordered a 12-oz cup of potato, bacon and mushroom soup ($2.95*). The soup was creamy and chunky. Unfortunately it was warm, instead of hot. Although the soup was not quite in the same league as the Stock Market soup, it was way better than average. At about $2 cheaper than those of the Stock Market, they are definitely a Cheap Appetite. The bread was crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The ground rosemary in the dough added a wonderful aroma to each and every bite.
At this point I was quite impressed with Bon Chaz and would like to know more. So I asked if I could talk to the manager. Conveniently, Michael Lui–the store owner–was there. According to him, Bon Chaz started from a booth at various Farmer’s markets and events. With great feedbacks, he decided to open up this bakery/cafe. During the introductory period, he intentionally prices his menu items very competitively. Hence the low prices of French press coffee, soup and Bon Chaz buns. Eventually, the prices will unavoidably have to go up. But they will still be competitive within the neighborhood.
Bon Chaz Bun with French Truffle Filling: ©©©©**
Bon Chaz French Press Coffee: ©©©©1/2**
Bon Chaz Potato, Bacon and Mushroom soup: ©©©1/2**
*All prices are introductory specials. All prices are subject to change without noticed. Take advantage of them while they last!
** Rating are based on the introductory prices.
Remaining Budget: $296.79
Budget Spent: -$6.65 ($1.75+1.95+2.95)
Budget Available: $290.14
Bon Chaz is located at 426 W Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. (T) 604.626.7215. Store Hours: Mon-Fri 8 am to 6:30 pm. Sat 10:30 am to 5 pm.
NOTE I: This coming Tuesday (March 9th, 2010) between 6 am to 8:30 am only, Bon Chaz is going to give away free coffee and buns to all the walk-in customers while supplies last. From 11 am to 6 pm on the same day, patrons can purchase a 12 oz cup of soup for $1.
NOTE II: On my first visit to Bon Chaz, I left the banana walnut bun in my backpack for almost two hours. Although it was still tasty, the bun was not as soft as the freshly baked French truffle bun I tasted on the way to work. Bon Chaz buns are best when fresh off the oven.
©2010 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.