I am drawn to bakeries. What can I say?
So even after gorging one evening on fried chicken at Vons in Sunnyvale (a must-try for the “crispy” chicken, by the way), I still felt compelled to stop in at a bakery steps away in the same strip mall on El Camino Real.
What enticed me was Cocohodo’s sign: “Walnut Pastry.”
Walnut pastries? Korean ones? What could those possibly be?
Why, quite delicious, that’s what.
Known as hodoogwaja, these two-bite pastries are shaped to look exactly like walnuts. The golden exterior is made with ground walnuts. Inside, there’s red bean paste and a nugget of actual walnut.
Apparently, they’re a big thing in South Korea, where they have been enjoyed for decades. After all, many Asian cultures revere walnuts not only because the nuts are nutritious, but because they resemble brains. Hence, the practice of students consuming them just before important school exams.
Cocohodo is a chain out of Korea, and the Sunnyvale location is its first in the Bay Area.
The hodoogwaja remind me of Japanese taiyaki, a fish-shaped golden cake also filled with red bean paste, as well as the more populist Nutella. Both are made in heated molds. At Cocohodo, there’s even a big window to allow you to watch them being made in the machines.
The exterior of hodoogwaja is similar to that of a waffle. The red bean paste is pleasantly less cloying than other adzuki bean desserts I’ve had that I have not enjoyed. Best yet, the walnut pastries are served warm.
Cocohodo also offers a wide selection of coffee and green tea drinks since the walnut pastries are meant to be an accompaniment.
Or you can do what I did, which is buy a $4.95 small bag of nine warm, individually-wrapped walnut pastries to go — and leave delighted about discovering a new treat.