Fendu’s Lucky No.7
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Fendu Boulangerie has entered its seventh year of business, and it’s feeling like lucky No. 7 indeed for owner and chef Niel Koep. His bakery has reached that sweet spot where it has numerous signature menu items, an adoring legion of regulars and a gradually expanding menu that offers a surprisingly diverse range of fine sweets and savory selections within the cozy confines of its bread basket-lined walls.
But it’s not just good fortune that’s helped th e charming Manoa bake shop thrive.
Koep and his staff have demonstrated an enduring dedication to quality, hard work and perseverance, especially during the early years of starting the mom-and-pop business.
Now that the owner’s vision for the bakery has come to fruition, Dining Out is taking a look at some of the key menu items that have Fendu — and its patrons — feeling so lucky.
BREAD AND BUTTER
At the core of this neighborhood European-style bakery are freshly baked breads and pastries. Customers can stop in to pick up a Baguette ($3.95) to add to dinner, or a loaf of Miche ($5.95) wheat rye country sourdough for the week, and there’s a bread special every day, including Rustic Kalamata Olive Bread ($5.95) on Tuesdays — a hit since day one. Patrons also have come to appreciate Fendu’s pastries, such as flaky Chocolate Croissants ($2.65 each) and Lychee Streusel Danishes ($2.40 each).
True to European fashion, the baked goods at Fendu Boulangerie feature real butter and are not overly sweet, leaving customers yearning for more. Koep also makes it his mission to use fresh, pure ingredients across the board. “I think that customers like the freshness and quality (of our food), and the fact that it is all natural. We’re not using shortening, we don’t add any chemicals to anything that we do, and I think that they can taste it in the products that we give to them because the focus here is on what things taste like,” he says.
THE MODERN BOULANGERIE
From the start, Koep knew he wanted to build upon his foundation of freshly baked goods with a number of warm, savory menu items. “I think a modern boulangerie (bakery) has to do more than just bread and breakfast pastry,” he says.
During the first year of business, Koep gradually introduced rustic pizzas baked in the shop’s old-fashioned gas burner oven, and sandwiches featuring gourmet flavor combinations hugged by Fendu’s fresh bread slices. There have been many standouts, including Curried Chicken Salad Sandwich ($7.99) served in Sweet Onion “Naan” bread. “We’ll never take that one off the menu. People still love it seven years later,” says the owner.
Over the years, the bakery’s slew of hot items have proven to be valuable to patrons on the go, who don’t have time to cook a fresh meal at home. “That’s what makes our Squash Soup ($7.50) and Island Style Chicken Pot Pie ($12.50), things like that, very popular, because customers can just come by and grab it, take it home and heat it up,” explains Koep.
LIFE IS SWEET
From the moment Fendu Boulangerie introduced carefully crafted desserts and pies, it’s been love at first bite. Treats like Petite Fuji Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumble ($5.85) and Buttermilk and Fresh Berry Panna Cotta ($4.85) are now must-haves.
Chocoholics are well taken care of at this bakery as well, and Koep is known to use distinct types of high-quality, single-origin chocolate for some of his most popular desserts. Valrhona Dark Chocolate Dome ($5.85), for instance, is as delicious as it is stunning, with Grand Marnier creme brulee encased in chocolate mousse. Though the dessert looks very rich, it is actually quite light, and a bottom layer of macadamia nut chocolate chunk sponge cake with chocolate wafer is an added bonus.
There’s also Valrhona Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake, ideal by the slice ($4.75) or as a complete round (7-inch round $36, 10-inch round $48) for special occasions. Light chocolate mousse, buttermilk chocolate cake and almond jaconde are just some of the elegant details that make up this intricate cake.
KEEPING IT FRESH
Even after a successful seven years, Koep still is full of gratitude for his customers and love for his craft, continuing to unveil new creations. The bakery recently introduced Guava Cheesecake ($4.65) — already a new fave — baked with cream cheese and mascarpone mixed with guava puree. It’s topped with guava gelee for even more fruit flavor.
On the savory side of things, Smoked Muscovy Duck Breast Pizza ($22 for14-inch, $14.25 for 8-inch) went from being a special to earning a permanent spot on the menu. It entices one’s entire palate with hints of balsamic-infused figs, pancetta bacon and more. There’s also a new bread to try, Tarallo Nostra ($5.95), on Saturdays. “In Italy, there are many forms of tarallo. This is our version,” says Koep. The light crusted bread with a soft interior is flavored with roasted fennel and a touch of thyme, and gets some extra depth from the white wine used instead of water in the recipe.
With so many delicious bites made from scratch, here’s to another lucky seven years, and then some.
2752 Woodlawn Drive, Honolulu
Monday-Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.