TNT Diner

Grab your friends to tackle this massive dessert built on a half loaf of toasted bread

For this cafe, dessert is a tall order

Brick toast, a popular dessert in tea shops in Asian countries, is served at Inifitea Cafe in Tacoma. The dessert is built on a half of a loaf of bread, which is toasted and coated in cinnamon sugar.
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Brick toast, a popular dessert in tea shops in Asian countries, is served at Inifitea Cafe in Tacoma. The dessert is built on a half of a loaf of bread, which is toasted and coated in cinnamon sugar.

Brick toast is a towering dessert that violates every food rule for carb and gluten avoiders.

Call it an epic dessert splurge.

It’s built with half a loaf of bread that is toasted and coated in honey or sugar.

It’s saturated in syrups and topped with scoops of ice cream until it becomes a vertical behemoth meant for sharing.

If you’re thinking that sounds like a built-for-Instagram dessert, you’d be right. The dessert has its own #bricktoast hashtag.

Fresh-sliced fruit drives this dessert’s nutritional value up just slightly, but if you’re eating half a loaf of bread for dessert, I’m just going to take a stab and say that you’ve back-burnered that healthy eating thing.

Brick toast is an import from Japan, Taiwan and other Asian countries where it’s widely served in tea shops. It also goes by the moniker honey toast or honey bread toast.

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A strawberry custard brick toast from Infinitea Cafe in downtown Tacoma. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

Your best choice for a local version is at Infinitea Cafe, a one-year-old bubble tea cafe in downtown Tacoma.

Co-owner Hsiao Berryman, a South Seattle College culinary school graduate, learned to make the dessert while working at Seattle-area bubble tea shops before her husband’s position with the Army took the family to Texas.

When her husband, Brad Berryman, exited the Army, the couple returned here to start their own bubble tea cafe.

Infinitea’s brick toast menu lists four versions, plus seasonal varieties. Hsiao right now is designing a Valentine’s Day version that should debut soon with a tongue-in-cheek play on the sweet-and-sour nature of love (she’s got a great sense of humor).

Her professional culinary training turns her brick toasts into edible art pieces and engineering marvels of sorts.

Take your time when cutting into one of her toast towers.

She gingerly cuts out the center of a half of loaf of milk bread, which she sources from Tacoma’s Baker Boys bakery. She cuts the center into squares. Those are toasted, coated in butter and sugar and stacked neatly back inside the shell of the bread loaf, which also is toasted.

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The inside view of a brick toast from Infinitea Cafe in downtown Tacoma. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

When diners cut into the bread, the mini toasts remain stacked into a tower of dessert croutons. I delighted in dredging those butter-and-sugar-coated squares through drizzles of fruit sauce and the dregs of the ice cream that melted down the toast tower.

She tops her brick toasts with three hefty scoops of ice cream and chocolate, strawberry or caramel syrups (or all three). A tumble of fresh fruit adorns every plate.

Construction can be painstaking. If she’s out of the cafe, have mercy on Brad. He occasionally has to go through a few loaves of bread to get the cuts right, she said. When things don’t go well, Hsiao gets a call asking her to return to the cafe.

Her creations are meant to feed two to three, but Hsiao said she’s always surprised to see solo diners tackling a full brick toast.

“They’re usually students,” she said.

Here’s a look at brick and honey toast in the Tacoma area and where to eat them.

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The chocolate lover’s brick toast from Infinitea Cafe in downtown Tacoma. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

INFINITEA CAFE

Where: 1127 Broadway, Tacoma, 253-507-7227, facebook.com/infiniteacafe

Four everyday brick toasts are on the menu at $10.95 each with a mango version available only when mangoes are in season.

Be sure to ask about Hsiao’s seasonal themed brick toasts.

Strawberry custard was a fine introduction with that half loaf of toasted milk bread — a perfect bread for toasting because of its dense, chewy texture and mild sweetness — stuffed with a Jenga tower of mini sugar-crusted toasts. Three scoops of strawberry ice cream were plopped atop with a drizzle of strawberry syrup that Hsiao imports from Taiwan. That avalanche of vanilla custard spilling from beneath the ice cream is Hsiao’s own housemade recipe. Fresh-cut strawberries, fresh blueberries, a mint sprig and a few strawberry Pocky dessert sticks topped the towering dessert.

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The banana split themed brick toast from Infinitea Cafe in downtown Tacoma. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

The chocolate lover’s version came with the same toast base, but with chocolate overload from three big scoops of chocolate ice cream, drizzles of chocolate sauce, fresh-sliced bananas and strawberries, fresh mint and an Oreo cookie topper dunked into the pyramid of ice cream.

The banana split brick toast was dressed for a celebration with multi-color sprinkles atop vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream scoops with chocolate, strawberry and caramel sauces, plus fresh banana.

Also listed: The menu includes bubble milk tea, fresh fruit smoothies, slushes, fresh-squeezed lemonade, coffee drinks, different styles of dessert toast, pizza toast, shaved ice desserts, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and other light cafe fare.

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Honey bread toast with ice cream and fresh fruit from T-Town Cafe in Lakewood. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

T-TOWN CAFE

Where: 8515 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253-584-1524, facebook.com/TTownCafeNW

This popular Lakewood dessert cafe specializing in snowflake desserts (Korean bingsu) and taiyaki has one style of dessert toast with ice cream and fresh fruit listed on its menu as honey bread toast ($7.95).

LIke Infinitea, T-Town’s honey bread toast is an architectural marvel, but in a different way.

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The honey bread toast, toasted and saturated in a honey syrup, from T-Town Cafe in Lakewood. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

Here, a half loaf of bread — a sort of sweet brioche-style bread with a cottony texture — is scored deeply with a knife, toasted and drizzled generously with a warm honey syrup. Perched atop the giant toast was a big cloud of whipped cream, toasted almonds, a few streaks of chocolate syrup, halved frozen grapes and fresh bananas. A scoop of ice cream anchored the plate with fresh-cut strawberries and blueberries. It took two to tackle that thing. Bring a friend.

ALSO TRY

Dessert and drinks cafe Coffee Kitchen in the past has served its own version of honey toast, although it was not available on a recent visit. The Korean dessert shop serving bingsu, coffee and tea is at 9115 South Tacoma Way in Lakewood (coffeekitchen1.com).

Sue Kidd has been The News Tribune’s restaurant critic since 2008. She dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Sue is a South Sound native. She writes about new restaurants, openings and closures and knows where to find the best tacos in every neighborhood.


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