If you haven't had brick toast before, and are generally a fan of pastries and butter and all things sweet -- you're thoroughly missing out.
A brief history lesson: Brick toast originated in England, where at its most basic form consisted of a piece of toast dipped in a thick sauce made with milk, salt, butter, and water. That soon spread internationally and these days, especially in Asia, the brick toast has taken the form of a glorious sweet meal in itself, sometimes topped with ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped cream.
In the San Gabriel Valley, there are legions of dessert houses -- most of them Taiwanese -- dedicated to the brick toast. So impress your date with some of the best sweet toasts in town, just in time for Valentine's day.
Oh My Pan
Located on the corner of Valley Boulevard and San Gabriel Boulevard, Oh My Pan is a relatively small operation. Free Wi-Fi makes it an idyllic study spot, but the main draw is really the smorgasbord of flavors on tap. The owner apprenticed at various bakeries in Taiwan and his creations reflect that. While the bakery faces competition from larger establishments like 85°C Bakery Cafe, the main draw here is the quality. Their brick toasts are gorgeous and there's a clear emphasis on fresh fruits and flavors. Start with the simple honey brick toast topped with strawberries and a scoop of ice cream, and if you're set on continuing your glorious dessert binge, peach and mango are solid options. They also have mini-toasts, pudding variations, and an epic one known as the Volcano, which is four layers high. 801 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776.
Milk and Honey
It doesn't get much cuter than this. The topping on Milk and Honey's toast is shaped like a bear, sandwiched with bananas and topped with a vanilla wafer. They have four toast variations on their menu and drinks, from your standard boba milk tea to Italian sodas. Note: they've also rolled out a ramen burger on their menu. 534 E Valley Blvd #1, San Gabriel, CA 91776.
Factory Tea Bar
Tea Bar is where all the cool kids hang out. Graced with chalkboard walls, plenty of board games to entertain, and cushy sofas to snuggle up -- they pay very close attention to their brick toast presentation. There are two thick slices of bread, stuffed with ice cream and a glorious drizzle of chocolate and chocolate powder. 323 South Mission Drive, San Gabriel, CA 91776.
MJ Cafe & Teahouse
MJ is a generalist. It's where you can get Taiwanese steak, noodles, boba, fried rice, and of course, dessert. The honey toast is adorned with a combination of matcha and red bean and for a couple of extra dollars, you can get Haagen-Dazs ice cream on top. Brick toasts are usually a feat best attempted by a group of people, but if you're there by yourself, MJ has something called Little Square: three mini-toasts stacked up on top of each other topped with chocolate. In their Rowland Heights location, they launched a new toast variation called Bow Tie Toast, where the bread is shaped like bow ties. 17521 Colima Road, Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Sno-Crave Tea House
Sno-Crave has 11 different variations of toast and the highlights on that menu are some of the most unique in town. They do a macaron variation with a handful of macarons, a wafer, and ice cream. There's another structured like Jenga blocks, and for $13.95 you can get the Sno-Crave Tower, which is essentially a stack of toast on toast with lots of sweet adornments. 18938 Labin Court, Rowland Heights, CA 91748
I-Sweet Dessert House
I-Sweet is very refined. They focus on flavored snow ice, shaved into beautiful folded sheets. Their brick toast is just as classy. They do a tiramisu version, where the toast is cut into bite-sized pieces, stacked, sprinkled with soft powder, and decorated with seasonal fruits. 17501 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Tea Bar Starry
Starry's toasts are rather simple but its cheaper price point is most definitely one of the main draws. There's one called The Jurassic, which is a mix of peanut butter, banana, and chocolate. They do another one just with Oreos. Starry is also adjacent to Din Tai Fung, which makes it a perfect place for a post-soup dumpling snack. It's also relatively quiet and unfrequented compared to some of the other options in town, which makes it an ideal option for those who want a calmer environment. 1108 S Baldwin Ave #6, Arcadia, CA 91007.