Passion Fruit Basque Tart at Koffeteria
Chef Vanarin Kuch (Photo by Evan Sung)
Beef Pho Kolache
An array of baked treats
Cranberry Orange Biscoff Cronuts
Since pastry chef Vanarin Kuch and his partner, front-of-house manager Andreas Hager opened EaDo pastry and coffee shop Koffeteria, fans can’t get enough of the best-selling Hot Cheeto croissant ($6). Here, the cheesy, turn-your-fingers-orange snack is taken to new heights.
Kuch’s leavened, butter-rich croissant dough is layered with both hot and original Cheetos crushed into the base, stuffed with nacho cheese, and topped with still more cheesy crumbs.
But that’s far from the only fun croissant variation on Koffeteria’s menu. If they’re sold out of the Cheetos phenom, try a freshly baked pistachio baklava croissant, drenched with lemon syrup and topped with chopped pistachios ($6). You’ll never look at baklava the same way again.
The menu rotates, but you might find a savory croissant filled with sour cream and onion, then topped with a Ruffles potato chip streusel ($6); a tres leches flan croissant soaked in the three-milk custard ($5); or Kuch’s take on the Cronut, a deep-fried croissant-donut made with Biscoff cookie spread, cranberries and orange ($4).
Pastry chef Kuch spent five years honing his craft in the kitchens of Boulud Sud and Gotham Bar & Grill in New York City and appeared on the TV shows Top Chef: Just Desserts and Chopped. While in New York, he also met his husband Andreas Hager, who’s now assistant director for the Houston Grand Opera.
They moved back to Houston, to the East Downtown/Second Ward area where Kuch’s Cambodian family has historically opened small businesses. Scouring estate sales and favorite thrift haunts, they created a cool space with a sustainable vibe, procuring nearly everything from the mid-century furnishings to the cake stands and coffee cups from secondhand sources.
Besides the aforementioned croissants, Koffeteria also offers delightful biscotti, sesame shortbread, pecan sticky buns, biscuits and scones. For lunch, savory options include beef pho kolache, Hot Cheeto grilled cheese, and carbonara and ratatouille quiches (weekends only). Inventive coffee drinks also abound.
The top-selling Salty Cambodian is a play on Vietnamese coffee enriched with milk and finished with a knob of house-made butter and Maldon salt ($6). The Tiger Uppercut, named for a move in the video game Street Fighter, is a mixture of Thai iced tea and espresso, served cold ($6). You’ll also find house-made gelato and sorbets, with rotating flavors such as as chocolate tahini and cassis sangría sorbet.
Kuch plans to switch up the hours later this year and stay open until 10 pm to serve plated desserts (such as mousse cakes and tarts) from 5 pm onward. Also in the works are weekly pop-ups with Kuch’s family members behind the range, cooking their Cambodian specialties. Look for the first pop-up, featuring Kuch’s mother, to happen around April, Hager says.
Koffeteria is open Wednesdays to Sundays, from 8 am to 5 pm currently. No cash is accepted — it’s cards only.
Koffeteria, 1110 Hutchins Street.