Arts & Entertainment Editor
Tucked in Santa Barbara’s Turnpike Center plaza is Kin Bakeshop, a modern Asian-owned bakery and cafe. Amidst a sea of white-owned and white-catered businesses, Kin Bakeshop proudly weaves Asian flavors with its own twists.
Previously, Kin Bakeshop operated as a pop up, but recently opened its permanent storefront. At 11 a.m. on a Sunday, there’s already a line out the door despite it opening an hour before. It’s advisable to arrive early; their baked goods are a hot commodity. Customers are limited to four Hokkaido brioche and eight mochi donuts each, and they usually sell out of donuts by 12 p.m., with updates available on their Instagram.
The interior is warmly lit with sparse but contemporary decor. There’s a line of benches against one wall, an open counter where you can see the donuts being carefully packed into their boxes, and a window toward the back where you can watch the baristas and patisseries at work. Soft pop music plays while you order.
The current menu, due to its recent opening, is short, sweet, and seasonal. Customers have their choice between espresso and tea drinks, with their signature einspanner across both categories. This month, Kin Bakeshop offers mochi donuts: spiced apple cider, cinnamon nutella, cookies and cream; and Vietnamese coffee. Their Hokkaido brioche donut flavors include chai vanilla cream, yuzu lemon, hojicha & strawberry, and white peach, lychee, & vanilla cream. Although this full menu is limited, their flavors change weekly.
A traditional einspanner is an espresso drink with a cold whipped cream. Here, Kin Bakeshop plays with different flavors, using matcha and a housemade sweet cream. The cream is thick — even after vigorously stirring, it piles on the top like a fluffy cloud. It’s a perfect blend of the bitter matcha and sweet cream. This is nothing like the Starbucks drinks pumped with syrups and sweeteners, but will appeal to coffee and tea enthusiasts who appreciate more savory flavors. Kin Bakeshop’s matcha einspanner is a must-try.
Hojicha is a roasted Japanese green tea known for its distinct earthy flavor. Kin Bakeshop mixes this natural, almost wheaty taste with their version of the cold whipped cream. Mix it together for a mellow and smooth taste that’s not bitter but nor sweet. Those who aren’t familiar with hojicha might be out of their comfort zone, but it will be a favorite amongst tea connoisseurs.
Spiced Apple Cider Mochi
The star of the show this month, the spiced apple cider mochi donut lives up to its name with a pleasant burst of apple flavor. It’s one of the sweeter options, but none of Kin Bakeshop’s goods are overwhelmingly sugary, instead opting for a gentle sweetness. If you’re only craving a single donut, this is the perfect taste of fall.
Cinnamon Nutella Mochi
This donut is more cinnamon than Nutella, with a generous dusting of cinnamon sugar across the top and a light drizzle of Nutella sauce. I would prefer the Nutella to be pronounced a little more, but it’s still satisfying.
Vietnamese Coffee Mochi
The deep bitter flavor of the coffee is cut with the sugary glaze. Every bite draws you in until you’ve finished and want another. Although it would pair well with a classic espresso or coffee, a milky drink would enhance it even more.
Chai Vanilla Cream Brioche
As with the other donuts, the chai flavor is refreshingly potent — Kin Bakeshop doesn’t skimp out on reflecting their donuts’ namesake taste. The inside is thick and creamy with a deep nutty flavor, while the brioche outside is sugared and doughy. A delicious combination.
Yuzu Lemon Brioche
Summery, light, airy — the dough is fluffy around a citrus cream within. My personal favorite, this donut makes you pause to appreciate the depth of flavor and silky texture.
Hojicha & Strawberry Brioche
The inside is more watery than creamy like the other brioche donuts. The hojicha’s natural grassy taste prevails here, but the sweetness from the sugared strawberries balances it well. This serves well with the hojicha einspanner, a reflection of each other.
White Peach, Lychee, & Vanilla Cream Brioche
This donut features a guava-colored jam filling to accentuate the fruity flavors. The peach and lychee each sing with every bite — reminding me more of spring than fall, but enjoyable nonetheless.
My experience at Kin Bakeshop was nothing short of incredible — the homey feel of the location, the personalized touch of employees greeting you with your drinks and donuts, plus the prominent tastes of the food and drinks themselves — all coalesced into a special breakfast treat. This place never fails to impress with its appreciation and respect for the flavor profile.
I highly recommend stopping by Kin Bakeshop and trying their assortment of changing flavors. Previously, Kin Bakeshop featured donut varieties including dalgona coffee, thai tea oreo, matcha berry cheesecake, oreo milk, ferraro rocher, guava, and more.
I’m sure their novelty will continue feverishly — you don’t want to miss out.