I knew I had made the right order at Panya Bakery when an older Japanese couple sitting nearby asked what I was eating.
The answer was — well, a lot of things. My tray, which I rotated once or twice to try to find the best angle to approach my meal, was crowded with plates. The smallest dishes held just a few bites of bean sprouts and natto, sticky fermented soybeans. Then there was a bowl of soft white rice, hot miso broth with cabbage, a long piece of salmon with a lemon wedge and pickles, and a small bowl of salad (that was admittedly the only thing I left behind). That entire spread, Panya's Japanese Breakfast, was a reasonable ten dollars.
Panya serves its Japanese Breakfast all day, though only to customers dining in. Most of the other options at the East Village bakery are convenient to eat on the go. Made-to-order items arrive quickly; teriyaki, curries over rice, and hot or cold udon and soba noodle soups are all prepared in the back kitchen. The refrigerator is stocked with prepared bento boxes, sandwiches on soft white bread, sushi, and rice balls. Breads and pastries fill the glass display case in the front, or customers can choose from the shelves of packaged snacks and bottled drinks.
Among the sweet pastries, Strawberry Shortcake and Matcha Tiramisu are standouts. The moist shortcake comes in generous slices with thick layers of cream and a whole strawberry on top. A light dessert, the tiramisu tops soft sponge cake with green tea mousse and green tea gelee. Green Tea Cookies and macarons in a range of flavors offer a small bite of something sweet.
Savory pastries include buns, which come in flavors like curry and spicy tuna. Buns, or Pan, also have sweet varieties, as in the Melon Pan and Green Tea Pan with red bean filling. The many choices of buns and pastries are in a display case for easy browsing (also look for a few unlikely flavors of croissants). If you're thirsty, try a Green Tea Latte or Yuzu Iced Tea.
Indoor seating is a little cramped, but outdoor tables are a pleasant option if the weather permits. Whether you stay or take food to go, you're invited to doctor your meal to your liking with soy sauce, Sriracha, and other self-serve condiments. And a tip for the wise: come back at night (around 9pm) to get discounted prices on baked goods.
8 Stuyvesant Street
Mon-Fri 7:30am - 10pm
Sat-Sun 8am - 10pm