The doors at 85°C Bakery Cafe had not yet opened just before 9 a.m. today, and already the line of customers snaked around the Southcenter Mall corner. An employee says it’s been that way every day since their soft opening nearly two weeks ago. At least they’ve put up portable heaters and a tent to keep those closest to the door dry.
These folks aren’t waiting for a cronut—they’re here for the grand opening of this popular Taiwanese chain’s first Washington location. Launched 13 years ago, 85°C has some 900 stores, across Asia and now into the U.S. (mostly in California, for now). It’s mostly grab-and-go pastries: There’s a serve-yourself section with European strudels and sweet or savory Asian baked goods from egg tarts to tuna buns to little black rolls dyed with squid ink and stuffed with Swiss cheese, and beautiful layer cakes available whole or by the slice behind a glass display case. Coffee and tea, too, are a large part of the appeal here; the beverage menu is long and varied, but you’ll want to try the iced sea salt coffee, a sweet, creamy coffee with a salty finish.
Southcenter Mall has developed a reputation as a hotspot for Asian chains: Jollibee and Chowking have been serving shoppers since 2010, the same year Seafood City opened the mega-grocery next door. Din Tai Fung and Kizuki Ramen will both be opening outposts there this year. The good news about the line at 85°C is that it moves faster than the DTF line ever will.
Tukwila, 1341 Westfield Southcenter Mall; 206.244.1885; 85cbakerycafe.com.