Along a stretch of Route 40 in Ellicott City also known as Korean Way, a dense population of businesses beckons visitors to Koreatown. Zoom in even further, and within a roughly 3-mile radius you’ll discover four distinct Korean bakeries, each boasting its own enticing array of sweet and savory treats and distinctive atmospheres.
Korean bakeries typically offer a wide variety of treats, ranging from popular items such as red bean rolls, cream rolls and roll cakes, to dishes that are unique to specific stores, like bulgogi sausage rolls, honey cheese mochi pancakes and twisted pie (a personal favorite).
Whatever your sweet tooth is craving, there are plenty of options — including even more bakeries along the road.
My advice: Take a friend to these four establishments and grab all the sweets that look good. You never know what will become your new favorite.
Bon Appetit Bakery & Cafe
10155 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City
There are cookies, breads, cakes, ice cream and more waiting for you at Bon Appetit Bakery & Cafe. While the bakery is tucked in the back of the shopping center, as you step inside, you will truly be in awe at how many different treats are tucked into every corner. I probably took three laps around the bakery to make sure I looked at everything.
If you’re in the mood for something savory, the garlic cream cheese bun always hits the spot for me. The treat has a garlicky profile similar to a garlic knot, but the cream cheese gives it a slightly sweet taste. The bun itself is crusty on the outside with a nice soft interior — straightforward and delicious. The twisted pie — a layered pastry similar in texture to a French palmier cookie, but longer and coiled — is sugary, crunchy and comes with two so you can easily share with a friend.
9339 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City
If caffeine and some pastries is more your speed, check out Shilla Bakery. They have a full coffee menu with the high-quality Illy on tap — which is how you know they take food and drinks seriously. But they also have the most magnificent-looking cake display plus ice cream and other frozen treats. The angel cake, similar to a sponge or chiffon cake, was light and fluffy, and the custard bun was so, so soft with a generous amount of creamy custard inside. If you’re looking for something slightly more substantive, though, they also have sandwiches, bubble tea and more.
Juno Bakery (Inside of H Mart)
3301 North Ridge Road, Ellicott City
I know it’s not just me that feels a bit “snackish” while grocery shopping. If you feel the same way, visit the bakery inside Ellicott City’s H Mart. You can sit and enjoy a pastry or three to muster up the energy (or sugar high) to continue your food chores. While this bakery is fairly small, it isn’t lacking in flavors or offerings. If you’re a chocolate fiend, the nutella doughnut is a must. If you prefer a more fruit-forward dessert, try the strawberry bun. The version at Juno Bakery has a cookie-like outside and cake-y interior, and it was made with strawberry powder so the strong flavor comes through in every bite.
Pro tip: I highly recommend trying one of Juno’s cakes, which are heavenly. A few years ago, a friend bought one for a celebration and I’m still thinking about it.
Tous Les Jours
9380 Baltimore National Pike #111, Ellicott City
Tous Les Jours certainly has the largest selection in the area and plenty of seating, as well as little meeting rooms. On a recent Saturday morning visit, everyone was smiling, happy to be there, catching up with friends and family and snacking on some of the delicious offerings. The honey cheese mochi pancake was a delightfully small pancake stuffed with a sweet creamy cheese and drizzled with honey. The mochi in the batter gave it a simply lovely chewy texture. But I was most excited to see bulgogi sausage rolls in the pastry case. These mini-sausages had a savory flavor with some hints of sweetness, wrapped in a flaky dough. It was truly a standout bite.
Rachel Lipton is a Baltimore-based freelancer and the content creator behind @LikeTheTeaEATS, where she highlights food and finds around the Baltimore region.