Time sure flies, it's been exactly a year since I first visited Sun Flour Bagel in Carlsbad, August of 2012. I did enough research at the time to know the Japanese breads that I was interested in trying were offered on certain days (Wed, Sat, Sun) but somehow missed the detail that it was more a lunch service starting at 11AM.
I still had a nice egg salad bagel sandwich for breakfast and also enjoyed watching the regulars sipping their coffee while reading the newspaper the morning.
Well I finally had a chance to revisit last weekend and this time got there a few minutes past eleven. The Japanese breads were tucked away in the back corner of the shop in a separate smaller display.
In a Japanese bakery pretty much anything goes but after many decades of uninhibited experimenting combined with that of the test of time, certain snack-pan and sweet kashi-pan remain today as a mainstay. Of them by far my favorite would be the Curry-pan (aka Curry Donut at times). A fried bread filled with delicious curry paste that is encrusted in crispy panko. The play in texture, contrasting flavor of subtle sweet vs. savory and touch of fried guilt makes it an easy to understand formula for success. Anyhow I was curious in trying Sun Flour Bagel's rendition as I heard good things about.
And I do have to say this was pretty good.(!) Immediately noticeable is the 'hard' panko that gives the bread an extra crunchy outer texture. The light doughy cocoon is slightly chewy and subtly sweet, but I was most impressed with the original curry which was a much more saucy rue than the typical paste style. Meaty and savory, something I'd be happy to consume itself over rice. The fact that it was still warm I'm sure helped here, but actually would probably taste even better with a few minutes rest as the curry sets and forms a cohesive bond with the bread.
The Korokke-pan is another "classic" (along with the double-carb-whammy Yakisoba-pan) which for me has a more nostalgia inducing quality during my knee scabbed soccer playing childhood. I wished the potato croquettes had a fraction of the character that the Curry-pan did as it seemed using purchased, but the affordable price still helped bring out those warm fuzzy memories for me.
The Okonomiyaki-pan is "less traditional" (and I use the term loosely) which I actually enjoyed more than I thought I would. Shredded cabbage and sliced wieners are nestled in the bread, and while the namesake sauce makes it fairly sweet, the benishoga pickled ginger and meatiness of the bonito flakes offsets it well.
Sun Flour Bagel may otherwise be an unassuming bagel shop in a strip mall but the friendly family run vibe and quality products are a definite win for Carlsbad locals. I can see myself making the trip for those Curry-pan again, and I very do want to try their Melonpan next.
Other posts I've found on SFB are from Vicki's A Work In Progress blog as well as Caron's San Diego Food Stuff. Check them out!
Sun Flour Bagel, 6955 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA 92009