Badua’s Creperie Express Shows Its Sweet Side (Maui Now)

baduasIt was a dark and stormy night.

Lightning threatened to ignite the very ground beneath our feet, seeming to chase us as we ran toward the refuge offered by the Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall.

Denied shelter in the Verizon store, we bolted up the stairs toward the food court as the howl of a wolf – or not – could be heard in the distance, seemingly from the vicinity of Sears.

So anyway, as we scanned the dining horizon, three words stood out like neon lights in Amish country: Badua’s Creperie Expresss.

Offering what coins we could spare and/or the asking price, we breathlessly ordered the Roast Beef Crepe (previously $8.95, recently $8).

The winds howled as the affable proprietor – presumably Badua himself – began to craft our sustenance.

He smoothed, browned and flipped the large, golden crepe.

We recalled a wet spring in Paris, absentmindedly daydreaming as he filled the thin pancake with slices of roast beef, cheddar cheese, sauteed onions and – wait.

spinachmushroomcrepeWhat is that he’s squirting all over the top of the meat?

Is that thousand island dressing or… Sweet Mary and all the saints, no.

One thing you may or may not know about Badua:

He loves chipotle mayo. Loooooooooves. He puts chipotle mayo wherever it makes sense and perhaps sometimes where it doesn’t. He may or may not wear a holster so that he can double down on the chipotle mayo whenever possible. Some may have suggested that he and chipotle mayo get a room.

On that note, two things you may or may not know about us:

  1. We often (regularly) fail to read the fine print.
  2. While we won’t go so far as to say we hate chipotle mayo, if chipotle mayo was hit by a bus… We’d be driving that bus.

It’s our fault, but we overlooked the C.M. cameo on the menu and its appearance was a shock.

And all that we could taste.

So let’s just say the Roast Beef Crepe is spicy and smoky and redolent in all that is cured jalapenos and move on.

The Spinach and Mushroom Crepe ($8.95) fared better, with fresh – to the point of still being a touch raw – spinach, mozzarella cheese and “sauteed bottom” (canned?) mushrooms inside the same somewhat sweet, golden crepe.

The net flavor was a bit reminiscent of something Campbell’s might make, but nothing a little fresh garlic, cracked pepper and a touch of thyme – tarragon for the daring – wouldn’t fix.

The Parmesan Chicken ($8.59).

Hmmmm.

This crepe is stuffed with slices of whole chicken breast, the same mushrooms and ground Parmesan.

Although it’s then topped with ranch dressing, the grainy cheese renders each bite notably dry and gritty.

A crepe fusion experiment if ever there were, this Frankenstein needs a little more time in the lab.

Part skim – let alone fresh buffalo – mozzarella would help enormously. Even just a side of savory marinara sauce could really bring things to life.

Food takes a little while to prepare, so while you wait, let’s step back for a moment and really soak up the scene.

To drill it down, Badua’s operates out of a small mall kiosk such as that where you might otherwise purchase some sunglasses, an interesting wind chime or a cell phone case.

Snooping around, we saw both a large panini press and full crepe griddle, but let’s get real: This is a veritable Criss Angel illusion in action. We have no idea how – let alone where – they’re storing everything.

And by everything, we mean the menu also offers chicken tacos, chicken katsu, roast pork, a Mediterranean salad and a variety of paninis.

But since the name boasts “crepes,” we decided to color within the lines.

Still, this is some straight abracadabra, so consider applause or at least a hearty “Bravo!” When you’re presented with the Crepes Suzette (previously $6.49, recently $5.49).

Filled with whole canned mandarins, we really enjoyed the riff on ice cream provided by the rich, dense sweetened cream on top. Paired with the tender, lightly eggy crepe, it’s like buttah.

Nonetheless – blame our Francophile mother. Cooking as a whole isn’t her strong suit, but she can sling a mean and mystifyingly authentic crepe – but we would love to see some more simplified offerings like you might find from an equivalent cart in Paris.

Nothing beats an au sucre (butter and sugar) crepe, except maybe an au Nutella or – when not in the mood for sweets – jambon fromage.

Wait.

Scratch that.

There is a Ham and Cheese Crepe ($7.00) on offer.

The batter is a lot sweeter than we’re used to and there is a decorative, yet extensive flourish of mayonnaise on top, BUT this was the most traditional offering we tried… And by far our favorite.

Still, we’d love to see a switch to the traditional Gruyere or any kind of Swiss (rather than cheddar) cheese.

Side note: The mayo, albeit pretty, isn’t necessary.

I guess what we’re trying to say, Badua, is we love the concept. We love the variety. We love your husband-wife-adorable toddler trio. We appreciate the thoughtful and unexpected side salad accompaniment, and we adore the price point.

We just honestly think you’re making it harder on yourself than you have to.

If this sounds intriguing, consider simplifying.

Look to Parisian crepe carts for recipe inspiration, lose the (occasionally rather past it’s prime) side salad and throw those freshly made pancakes in some wax paper and call it good.

We think you’re onto something great, and with a few little tweaks – maybe a calamansi, sugar and butter offering? – and abridgments, this unapologetic purist may be forced to start an adjacent sunglasses kiosk just to have an excuse to eat here every day.

Well, Mercredi, Jeudi et Vendredi anyway.