Smile Politely

Sampling sweet treats from Suzu’s Japanese Bakery

Suzu’s Japanese Bakery is a real treat for our community, as it’s hard to find Japanese bakeries outside of large cities such as Chicago. Started in November 2020, Chef Suzuko Enomoto teamed up with locals Alex Sentowski, Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, and Nan Goggin to bring Japanese sweets and baked goods to downtown Champaign.

Located on Walnut Street in the space previously occupied by Cream and Flutter, Suzu’s is a short walk from anywhere Downtown. With their beautiful display of sweets, it is difficult to hold yourself back from buying everything the friendly staff suggest to you.

As they allow just two people inside during the pandemic, I recommend taking advantage of Suzu’s online ordering system.

Interior of Suzu’s where baked goods are on display and Suzu’s staff are seen working behind the counter ringing-up orders and preparing more baked goods. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

I ordered mini heart shu creams, ichigo daifuku, matcha shu cream, Kurimiko, and the March special strawberry dacquoise.

Three mini strawberry chu creams shaped like hearts on a plate. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Of the limited-time sweets specials, I first tried the mini heart shu creams ($6 for three). These small, heart-shaped puffs came topped with strawberry icing, crispy sugar balls, and a small, soft, red heart. Because they are smaller than shu creams typically offered at Suzu’s, the cream inside the puff is just enough to give that wonderful strawberry flavor in a nearly bite size amount. If offered again, mini shu creams are great for sharing and for anyone who wants a little less cream with their puff.

A pink Ichigo Daifuku on a plate. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Also offered in-store for a short time, the ichigo daifuku ($3.50) was a beautiful treat. Made of pink mochi (sweet rice paste) surrounding a layer of sweetened, red lima bean around a whole strawberry core, ichigo daifuku was a refreshing treat. I enjoyed the chewy outer layers since they made the juicy strawberry center stand out. If Suzu’s makes anything with a fruit center again, I suggest giving that a try.

A matcha shu cream covered in powdered sugar on a plate.Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For something you can find most days at Suzu’s (assuming it is in stock), the matcha shu cream ($3.50) is a good choice. Since it was larger than the shu creams mentioned above, I took off the top of the sweet and used it as a scoop to eat the cream. I especially enjoyed how the bitter, matcha green tea cream met with the heavy, vanilla cream. A shu cream is not a sweet that is easily eaten cleanly, so I recommend eating them outside or on a plate, that way the powdered sugar and cream stays well away from whatever you are wearing.

I think Suzu’s makes the best puff pastries I’ve ever eaten, so try one of the three varieties (vanilla, chocolate, matcha) of shu cream next time you’re at Suzu’s.

A rectangular piece of Kurimiko on a plate. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

For the nut lovers out there, I tested out the Kurimiko ($3). This cookie bar was packed with gooey caramel and walnuts on a thin cookie crust. My Kurimiko was rich with caramel and served as a great alternative for people who prefer their sweets without chocolate or fruity flavors. If you like caramel and walnuts, you will enjoy eating Kurimiko.

An oval shaped Strarberry Dacquoise cookie sandwich on a plate. Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Photo by Matthew Macomber.

Each month, Suzu’s also has a special baked good. For the month of March, it was strawberry dacquoise ($3.50). Although dacquoise are sold on a regular basis at Suzu’s, the strawberry cream was special in this case, as dacquoise usually has a cream that is somewhat nutty. I enjoyed how soft the dacquoise was and appreciated that the cream and cookies were gluten free as the cookie sandwich was made with soy flour. A dacquoise is a great treat for anyone, not just those who need to enjoy their food without gluten.

While I’ve talked about five different sweets, there are many more to choose from at Suzu’s Japanese Bakery. Every trip is sure to send you home with something you’ve never tried before, so make sure to check Suzu’s website, Instagram, and Facebook media for when special baked goods are available. As an example, curry pan (savory vegetarian baked buns) are only available on Thursdays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. as of my time writing this piece.

Regardless of what you find at Suzu’s, it is sure to be worth your trip.

Suzu’s Japanese Bakery
114 N Walnut St
Su 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
W-Sa 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Top image by Matthew Macomber.

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