A weekly survey of bread in San Francisco ― the baked and the fried, the
artisan and the novelty.
Source: Andersen Bakery, Kintetsu Mall (1737 Post, Suite 304), 345-1046; or Crocker Galleria (50 Post #1), 262-0079
Price: $4.50 for a loaf, $2.25 for a half-loaf
Face it: French toast just isn't as good when you use slices of hole-ridden ciabatta or thick-crusted levain. The texture is wrong. The eggs and milk soak in unevenly. White bread -- possibly Japanese white bread -- is what you need.
Andersen Bakery, the Japanese chain that specializes in breads and Danish pastries, opened in Hiroshima in 1948, but expanded to the Bay Area in the early 1980s. (Founder Shunsuke Takaki named the bakery after Hans Christian Andersen.) Its breads now show up all over town -- in FiDi as well as Japantown, at the bakery's Grain d'Or spinoff on Clement, not to mention numerous cafes and markets. SFoodie isn't as big a fan of the country-style rounds or baguettes as we are of Andersen's melonpan and its squared-off sandwich bread, which looks Wonder-y until you pick up a slice, realizing that it doesn't dent or squish the moment it's handled.
The apple and raisin bread, a variation on the sandwich bread, has a soft but springy texture somewhere between a brioche and homemade white bread. The counter staff usually offer to cut the loaf into regular or thick slices. Pick the fatter ones, which quickly soak up the custard without melting into mush.