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Bakery Rolls Out Heavenly Treats

Cover Story

July 8, 2018

Story By: Caroline Wright | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Owner and chef Niel Koep takes Kiawe Smoked Chicken Pizza ($13.75, 8-inch) out of the oven, while front counter sales staff members Coleen Yara (with Valrhona Dark Chocolate Domes, $5.99), and Ellana Swiney (with the Lanai Calamansi Tarts, $4.99) present tasty desserts.

Welcome to Fendu Boulangerie! A cozy little shop in Manoa filled with cheerful yellow walls, posters that illustrate pain (bread in French) in different shapes and sizes, and hypnotizing aromas coming from fresh baked goods.

For nine sweet years, this European-style bakery has been a heavenly fixture at Manoa Marketplace. But the quality of the breads and pastries here is no divine accident.

Owner Niel Koep learned his craft from some of the world’s best bakers and pastry chefs, including Albert Kumin at New York’s International Pastry Arts Center, Philippe

LeCoeur at the National Baking Center in Minneapolis, and Pierre Zimmermann at Chicago’s French Pastry School.

Kiawe Smoked Chicken Pizza ($13.75, 8-inch)

In 1990, Koep left his demanding job baking for a pair of Manhattan gourmet shops and moved to a tiny paradise in the middle of the Pacific.

“I was hired as assistant pastry chef to open the bake shop for Manele Bay and the Lodge at Koele (both on Lanai),” recalls Koep.

After about 18 years at the Lanai resorts, Koep came to Oahu to launch Fendu Boulangerie. He and his wife still maintain a home on Lanai, where he retreats to take a break from his busy bakery.

Miche Bread ($5.99, per loaf)

An appreciation for leisure time likely inspired two dishes Koep recently added to the menu.

“New At Fendu” this month is a pair of meals for those who want a delicious pre-cooked dinner they can simply warm and eat. “Each one is made in a container of microwaveable, oven-proof cardboard,” says Koep. “It’s a fast, easy meal to take home.”

Vegetarian Special Panini ($9.99)

The Chicken Alfredo Baked Rotelli ($11.50) is one of Koep’s favorites.”I really like the organic broccoli because it tastes like broccoli did when I was a kid,” says the New Jersey native. “The Baked Penne Pasta with Parmesan-Herb Crust ($10.50) is more a classic style — tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh herbs for the crust.”

Fendu’s new Kiawe Smoked Chicken Pizza ($13.75), with creme fraiche, pancetta bacon, sweet onions, fresh-cracked black pepper, fresh mozzarella and goat cheese, is a delec-table 8-inch pie that joins four others on the menu.

Baked Penne Pasta with Parmesan-Herb Crust ($10.50)

“And we’ve updated our Vegetarian Special Panini ($9.99),” notes Koep. “It’s now served on our whole wheat rustic bun, and we’ve added yellow squash to the other ingredients — Japanese eggplant, portobello mushroom, bell peppers, sweet onions, tomatoes, herbs and fresh mozzarella.”

You can taste Koep’s mastery of his craft in everything made here, even the simple, lovely Miche Bread ($5.99). Hearty and moist, with a firm crust, it begins with a sourdough culture and is baked with both rye and wheat flour.

Chicken Alfredo Baked Rotelli ($11.50)

Bread for Days

In addition to its gorgeous baguettes, pain fendu, miche, sourdough and multigrain loaves, Fendu Boulangerie features delightful Daily Special Breads.

What’s on the menu?
Monday: Ciabatta
Tuesday: Rustic Calamata Olive Bread
Wednesday: Sundried Tomato Cheese Bread
Thursday: Focaccia
Friday: Fougasse with olives and herbs
Saturday: Italian Walnut Bread and Bossola (Italian Sweet Bread)
Sunday: Bossola (Italian Sweet Bread) and Buckwheat Fig Bread

Chef’s Picks

It’s great to stick with old favorites, but at Fendu Boulangerie, the adventurous palate is always sweetly rewarded.

Owner Niel Koep encourages customers to take a bite out of Pear and Mascarpone Danish, an elegant breakfast pastry with glazed pears and delicate Italian cream cheese, or Vanilla Flan With Dark Red Cherries, which features dark red cherries sauteed with brown sugar and butter, baked in a vanilla flan that is topped with kiawe honey gelee.

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