You really need to think outside the box to make a mark on Sydney’s pastry scene, and from his box-sized shop on Oxford Street, former Lode Pies baker Yeongjin Park is doing just that. Park is breaking the traditional moulds of patisserie (quite literally) with brick-shaped Portuguese tarts, croissants infused with Korean flavours, and revolving seasonal specials.
There’s lots to unpack about Tenacious, and their Portuguese tarts are the best place to start. Park dreamt up the Bakehouse’s top-selling pastry, which takes four days to make, while working at Picco Leo and quickly garnered a devoted fan base within the inner circles of pastry aficionados. The tart is bigger and the pastry is thicker than your usual pastel de nata, but equally irresistible, with super flaky pastry and a velvety custard centre. The skin is dark and blistered (some might consider it almost burnt) and glazed with miso caramel, but just the right amount that it’s not too sweet (characteristic of any good Asian dessert). Being double the size, this Portuguese tart is also double the dollar, but we’d say it’s worth every bite.
Now back to the pastry box – we filled ours with two staples and two seasonal specials. The grape tart is a work of art and tastes like a bougie cheesecake with a buttery pastry shell, a thin layer of berry jam and a generous dollop of vanilla cream. The juicy grapes on top really make it pop. Park’s ‘Jinius’ croissant is another masterpiece, and reimagines an almond croissant with laminated layers of sourdough croissant pastry, almond marzipan, caramelised white chocolate and raisins. It’s flakier than your flakiest friend and we’re so here for it.
Tenacious Bakehouse’s Korean-inspired pastries are another reason to visit. Park draws on his upbringing in rural South Korea for his creations, including a corn pastry with charred kernels, melted cheese, mayonnaise and corn flakes; and a takoyaki (Japanese octopus ball) croissant with tender octopus salad and flaky fried bonito.
The injeolmi croissant may not win any beauty contests, but it certainly wins hearts for its nostalgic fusion of Korean rice cakes (tteok) and powdered doughnuts. The croissant’s filling, a sweet combination of custard cream and red bean paste, is elevated by a delicate dusting of roasted soybean powder. It’s perhaps only topped in ingenuity by Park’s pork mandu pastry, which fuses the Korean dumpling with an Aussie sausage roll.
Save yourself the stress of on-the-spot decisions and check out Tenacious Bakehouse’s daily pastry selection, which they post on Instagram every morning. We like the sound of the seasonal specials, such as pistachio and sweet potato croissants in autumn, or house-fermented tomato and pesto danishes in winter. Buy both.
Tenacious ticks all the boxes for innovation, taste and warm hospitality. Despite being at the intersection of two busy streets, the Bakehouse is surprisingly peaceful inside, and there are a handful of tables for those who’d like to cosy up with a coffee (roasted by Diggy Doo’s) and croissant. If there are any left, we’d strongly suggest grabbing an extra Portuguese tart for the road home.