San Diego

San Diego Bakery Caked Combines Traditional Asian Flavors Into Decadent American Desserts

CAKED blends Asian flavors with heavier, more decadent American-style desserts to create a scrumptious and unforgettable flavor

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The gooey goodness at popular bakery Caked in Miramar is arresting the hearts of San Diegans. The Asian-owned bakery has made a name for itself by blending traditional Asian flavors with well-loved American desserts like cookies and brownies.

Unique Asian Flavors

CAKED's milk tea flavored cookie is inspired by the popular Asian drink, boba milk tea. (NBC 7)

When customers hear Caked’s unique cookie flavors like ube mochi, milk tea or taro, their eyes light up. Caked CEO Kathy Phan comes from a Chinese and Vietnamese background, which has influenced her bakery's lineup of desserts. Caked’s crew also grew up with many of these uniquely-Asian flavors.

"My grandma used to always make this taro dessert that I love. And so it was really fun bringing it to cookies because I also love American desserts and how they're a little bit heavier than typical Asian desserts," Phan said.

Taro, which is a mildly sweet root vegetable, is just the start of special Asian flavors customers can find at Caked.

"Taro, milk tea, Thai tea, different boba flavors, matcha green tea, ube — we have all of those that we were able to transition to an American-style dessert," Phan said.

Visiting Caked‘s open-air shopfront, you'll notice a thick, bright purple cookie labeled the "ube mochi cookie." It's one the bakery's most uniquely Asian flavors, being a combination of ube, a slightly sweet bright purple yam, and mochi, a chewy Japanese rice cake. Now imagine all that in one cookie — and you have the ube mochi cookie.

Margaret Chung and Kathy Phan bake brownie cookies. (NBC 7)

"[Customers] enjoy seeing the pop of the ube color or matcha and learning more about the cultural background for the cookies," Phan said.

Patrons who walk into Caked unfamiliar with these flavors are not shy about trying them.

"I think nowadays, fortunately, people love trying new things so when they see something new, they want to give it a chance and it's opened up palettes for a lot of Americans who've never heard or seen any flavor like this," Phan said.

For those craving the traditional American cookie flavors like chocolate chip, Caked has those too.

"There's honestly something for everyone," said Margaret Chung, Caked’s Market Manager, who recommends the crispy peanut butter.

Chung is also of Vietnamese and Chinese heritage and was already familiar with many of Caked’s flavors.

"It's really cool to get to share that with customers who've never tried it before, and hearing people who actually learn to love it is really cool," Chung said.

How did Phan get into this mouthwatering business?

Kathy Phan prepares to bake brownie cookies for upcoming farmers markets. (NBC 7)

Perfecting the Craft

In 2017, Phan completely took over her parents' kitchen, baking at all hours of the day until late into the night.

"At the beginning, [my parents] thought it was a crazy dream," Phan said.

"They couldn't cook anymore because I was just baking non-stop, 24/7," she said, laughing.

Once they saw her passion for baking and how well she was doing after two years in the business, her parents helped her open up the brick and mortar location in 2019, joining the line-up of craft businesses at the Miralani Industrial Business Park in Miramar.

"Now, my mom comes here every day. In the very beginning, it was just us two and we would stay here to 2 a.m. every night, just trying to keep up with all the orders," Phan said.

On a Tuesday morning at Caked, Phan's mother, Le Quach, could be seen boxing up brownies at the bakery.

At the start of May, which is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month, Yelp put Caked as #7 on their list of "50 Asian-owned bakeries to add to your foodie bucket list in the US & Canada." Like many important things for Phan, she found out her business made the list while she was on vacation, this time in the Philippines.

"I was like, whoa! What is happening?" Phan exclaimed. Her aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and more helped Phan's bakery to become the popular bakery it is now.

"I just never dreamed that something like this would happen," Phan said.

You can also find them at farmers markets in Little Italy, North Park, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, SDSU and Lane Field Park. Check Caked‘s website here for updates.

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