If you’ve spent any time in the San Gabriel Valley, you’re aware of the large number of Taiwanese and Chinese bakeries that dot the area. These bakeries range from small mom-and-pop operations and local chains like JJ to international chains such as 85°C Bakery Café, Bake Code and Duke Bakery, and most moved into the SGV a number of years ago. Opening days at these chain bakeries drew large crowds, with waits of an hour or more in some cases, along with varying degrees of chaos. One might have thought those days had passed. That is, until the recent opening of Sunmerry Bakery in Monterey Park’s Atlantic Times Square.
Offering an all-day special of $1 breads (pastries) and BOGO drinks, reports are that things quickly deteriorated, particularly when the baked goods were slow to arrive and quick to disappear. Visions of patrons dueling with trays probably weren't far off. Thankfully, all seem to have survived, and things have settled down enough to take a look at the bakery itself.
Established in Taiwan in 1985, Sunmerry predates 85°C by 18 years. However, 85°C was first to the U.S., arriving in Irvine in 2008, seven years before Sunmerry joined them in the Orange County city. Sunmerry then waited over a year before entering the crowded SGV baking-tray fray in late January at Temple City’s Camellia Square. If you’ve been to any of the bakeries, you pretty much know what to expect. Pick up a tray, some paper and a pair of tongs, then pluck your choice of any number of sweet or savory pastries from the display cases before taking them to the counter, where you can also order a drink.
For the most part, the pastries (or breads as they’re often called) will be familiar. Some mirror particular items seen at 85°C, and you'll see popular ingredients such as red bean, taro and mango. There also are the ubiquitous bolo (pineapple) buns and coconut raisin and egg tarts that are staples of all SGV bakeries. Like the other chain bakeries, Sunmerry has its own distinct items. These include the green tea croissant, which is dusted with matcha powder; a lemon cream cheesecake with cranberry; and a savory shiitake mushroom cheese. But perhaps the signature item is a taro milk cake found in a refrigerated case in the center of the stores.
Drinks are provided by partnering with another chain, Happy Lemon, which has a few stand-alones in other parts of the country. What sea salt foam is to 85°C, salted cheese foam is to Happy Lemon. The foam can be ordered atop coffee or green, black or milk tea. The other specialty is, of course, various lemon teas. Selections in each category are labeled “series” on the menu board.
While the Temple City location is takeout only, the Atlantic Times Square space follows the benchmark of 85°C and Bake Code in having about a dozen seats at which to enjoy your bread and beverage. The third L.A. County branch of Sunmerry Bakery should open before long in the City of Industry. With homegrown JJ Bakery having also expanded recently, and 85°C having expanded to downtown and to Glendale along with Duke Bakery, it will be interesting to see how the bakery boom shakes out.
5728 Rosemead Blvd., Temple City; (626) 656-6336.
550 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park.