I was first introduced to Iris Tea & Bakery by Xi'an Famous Foods's Jason Wang on a tour of Flushing he gave us. After some Teletubby-themed pastry (really) and a lot of confusion, the sweets shop fell off my radar until recently. As it turns out, there's plenty to recommend at Iris, but the distance between the hits and the misses is a great one.
With a prime corner spot on Roosevelt Avenue and Prince Street, Iris is one of the few quality bakeries near the 7 train to offer real tables and seats. Load up a tray and grab one of the three low-rise bistro tables to pick apart pastries like Trunk Bread ($2.75), a barely sweetened cylinder of crackly crust and airy, irregular, baguette-like crumb.
More suited to dessert is the Japanese Crispy Cream Puff ($2.50), good choux pastry regrettably chilled into submission in the dessert case but stuffed with a not-too-sweet pastry cream with a thickness almost like buttercream frosting.
Most of the bread-based sweets aren't worth your time, but there's something so charming about the Taro Cube ($2.75), a perfect box of sweet bread encasing a creamy, chunky taro filling.
There's also a fridge case with a range of puddings and panna cottas in flavors like mango, roast (!?), and Black Sesame ($3.25). It's a small cup but intensely flavored, soft and jiggly with a powerful jolt of sesame paste.
Iris still confuses me, from the thumping French Horn Rebellion soundtrack on one visit, the wholly unhelpful ingredient lists, and seemingly random pastry names like "Paul Stoke Bread" (is he the secret godfather of rum cakes?). But there's no denying it has some worthy pastries. Just pass on that Teletubby.