For the past year, a Japanese-American bakery that ran out of an Italian restaurant in Cleveland Park has wowed customers with exceptionally crunchy pastries and puff pastries filled with unorthodox fillings. From the yuzu flower croissant to the rose cardamom muffin and a lemon meringue cruffin cake, each one of the creations of baker Yuri Oberbillig at SakuSaku Flakerie they are full of delicate seasonal flavors.
Despite difficult opening conditions amid a pandemic, Trattoria Al Volo’s small patisserie built up a loyal fan base of croissant lovers. The regular menu includes a za’atar gruyere croissant ($ 5.50) in which the rich walnut cheese complements the herbal and sumac flavor of the Middle Eastern spice blend. Another croissant combines a pistachio filling with two bars of dark chocolate. The bakery recently partnered with Lost Sock Roasters for coffee. Accepts custom orders for cakes and cakes for special occasions.
The idea of making a twice-baked peanut butter and jelly croissant, filled with a layer of thick peanut butter, roasted peanuts, and a little raspberry jelly, came from Oberbillig observing his father-in-law’s lunch routine. “I thought, I could turn this into a croissant!” she says with a laugh.
SakuSaku Flakerie (3417 Connecticut Ave NW) also offers traditional shokupan, a loaf of bread with milk typically found in any good konbini. (Japanese convenience stores). Oberbillig is from Kobe, Japan. He began working in the restaurant industry 10 years ago, learning to bake from videos of chefs whose techniques he admired. While its Japanese hometown is world-renowned for its beef, baked goods are a lesser-known specialty.
“Kobe has the most bakeries in all of Japan,” says Oberbillig. “Because of its very old history and its huge port, it attracted different cultures. That’s why we have a lot of European-style bakeries and patisseries there. “
The 32-year-old pastry chef has cultivated her talent internationally, first moving to Vancouver, Canada. He came to the US in late 2017 after a few years working in bakeries in Japan. Her attention to detail and precision stems from an early desire to become a fashion designer. “As in fashion, shapes and designs are very important to me when I bake,” he says.
Oberbillig’s husband, Jason, helps her at the store and says she is “obsessed” with practicing techniques. After a long day at the store, she often takes work home and tries new recipes until she is satisfied with the results. Every morning, you monitor the weather forecast, air humidity level, and kitchen temperature to tailor your oven settings for maximum flaking.
This fall, the chef went apple picking at Homestead Farm in Maryland. Salted Caramel Apple Patties and Classic Apple Pies will appear as limited specials at SakuSaku throughout the season.
Oberbillig previously worked at several DC bakeries, including A Baked Joint and the French chain Maison Kayser. When Firehook Bakery closed next door to Trattoria Al Volo in the summer of 2020, the owners of the pasta place took the opportunity to expand. Partner Rolando Frias approached Oberbillig and gave him carte blanche to choose a name and develop a menu. “When I tried their croissants, I was amazed,” says Frías.
Like the cakes, the name of the bakery borrows from different cultures. “SakuSaku” is a Japanese word that describes the typical crunch when eating a freshly made puff pastry. Jason Oberbillig came up with the label “Flakerie” as an acronym for puff pastry, bakery and pastry.