Chiu Hong Bakery is an old school Cantonese bakery located on the cusp of Chinatown and Soho. It’s the type old school Toisan family owned bakeries that are slowly dying in Chinatown. The place is dingy with no décor whatsoever. There’s not much more to say about the place other than it’s turning out some great pastries.
Lotus Seed Pastry (Lian Rong Su)
This is a flaky pastry that is filled with lotus seed paste. The dough was nicely flaky and not too oily or dry. The lotus seed paste was fairly dense and not overly sweet. It was pretty good. 7.75/10
Wife Cake (Lao Po Bing)
This is a thin flaky disc shaped pastry filled with a winter melon filling with roasted sesame. The version here is excellent, definitely the best version I’ve had in NY and pretty close to Asia level good. In particular the filling is excellent; it’s not the paste that most places have, but rather actual strips of winter melon. This is really excellent and definitely a must order. 8.5/10
Peanut Mochi (Hua Sheng Nuo Mi Ci)
Everyone knows about Japanese mochi, but there is a Cantonese version of mochi as well. I believe they were very popular a long time ago in the 50s or 60s. Anyhow, today they are an old school pastry that you don’t see a lot of people eating anymore. Chiu Hong’s version is excellent and homemade. The dough is very soft, thicker than Japanese mochi and dried coconut has been sprinkled on the outside. The ground peanut and sugar filling is delicious. These were really good. 8.5/10
Red Bean Mochi (Dou Sha Nuo Mi Ci)
These are the same except with red bean paste in the middle. 8.5/10
Red Bean Pancake (Shao Bing)
This was a thin disc shaped pancake made out of rice dough with red bean filling that has been lightly grilled on one side. The rice dough was soft, but had a slightly crispy texture on one side and the red bean filling was nice. This was surprisingly good as I thought it might be bad because it looked like it had been sitting around for a while. 8/10
Fa gao is a steamed fluffy cake made of rice flour that kind of looks like a cupcake, but is much more fluffy. You normally eat these at Chinese New Years. They are simple, but fairly easy to mess up and are dry when they are bad. Unfortunately, these were a total dud here and were quite dry. 6.5/10
Baked Roast Pork Bun (Kao Cha Shao Bao)
This was a typical roast pork bun except the filling was really ugly and not the regular red or brown filling. It tasted much better than it looked although I thought it was meat wasn’t great. The bun was quite good and it could’ve been a good roast pork bun if it had a more flavorful filling. 7/10
Steamed Roast Pork Bun (Zheng Cha Shao Bao)
Same as the baked pork bun except it was a steamed bun. 7/10
I highly suggest trying this bakery because given it’s location in Soho, I can’t imagine it will be around that much longer. Some of the pastries here are really high quality and it will be a shame when they’re gone.
161 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
Takahachi Bakery is a Japanese bakery that I discovered by accident this summer because it’s very close to where I get my haircut in Tribeca. Japanese bakeries have always been one of my favorite things since I was a kid. However, I’ve found the ones in NY to be somewhat mediocre, so I was very happy to find a good quality Japanese bakery.
The bakery is a long a narrow space with exposed brick walls and high ceilings. It has a large display case showcasing its goods and a small space in the back to sit and eat. The staff is nice and is pretty helpful.
Here’s what we got:
An pan is a baked red bean bun and is one of the most common pastries you see in Japanese bakeries. The version here is very good; the bread is soft and moist and the red bean filling has good consistency and is not too sweet. The ratio of filling to bread was also perfect. Overall, this is a solid version. 8.25/10
Mochi An Pan With Green Tea Powder:
This is the same as the regular an pan except with green tea powder on top, which gives it a slightly bitter green tea flavor and with mochi (rice dough) in the middle. The mochi makes the inside chewy. It’s pretty good, but I prefer the regular an pan over this. 7.75/10
Sourdough Green Tea An Pan:
This is an pan except they use a green tea flavor sourdough bun. I couldn’t really taste the green tea and just tasted like a sourdough bun although very light in flavor. It’s not as soft or fluffy as the regular bun with thicker and tougher exterior. It was alright, but I didn’t think it was anything special. 7.25/10
Sweet Cheese Bun:
This is a fluffy white bun filled with a sweet cheese filling and topped with powdered sugar. The bun is perfectly fluffy and soft and the cheese filling is really good. It’s slightly sour, but sweet and almost runny. This is excellent and one of the stars here. 8.5/10
Melon pan is the Japanese version of a Chinese bo lo bao (pineapple bun). I’m not sure who actually came up with it first, but I’m pretty sure it’s Chinese originally although I did read that either the Chinese got it from the Mexicans (pan dulce) or the Mexicans got it from the Chinese. Any which I love everyone’s version of this. It’s a baked white bun with no filling and a hard sugary top. The sugary top is really good and the bread is moist and fluffy. It’s simple, but really good. 8.5/10
Sweet Potato Cone:
This is a cone shaped pastry that is filled with sweet potato filling that has been spiced with cinnamon and has sesame seeds on top. It tastes exactly as it sounds and I love sweet potato so this was awesome for me. 8.25/10
This is just strawberry shortcake. The cake was moist and light and the frosting is the typical Asian style frosting that is very light. However, the frosting was a bit too sweet; I’d prefer if it was less sweet. I would’ve given a higher rating if it was less sweet. 7.25/10
Curry Beef Bun:
This is a baked bun filled with curry filling that has beef, potatoes and carrots in it and it’s topped with this savory herbal seasoning. The bun is soft and moist as all of Takahachi’s buns are. The curry filling is nicely flavored and the herbal powder seasoning on top is really good with the bun. It doesn’t look that great, but it’s really delicious. 8.25/10
This is my favorite thing here. It’s really light cheesecake that is just slightly sweet and a bit sour. I don’t know how to properly explain this, but it’s really good. 8.75/10
This is a twisty roll that has swirls of pumpkin paste in it. Again moist and soft and the bread goes perfectly with the pumpkin. This was very nice. 8/10
Overall, I like this bakery a lot and if you happen to be in the area definitely give it a try.
25 Murray St (between Broadway & Church St)
New York, NY 10007
Tao Hong Bakery is a bakery I noticed because of a positive review on chowhound, which you can see here.
It’s a rather small and non-descript Cantonese bakery which would not particularly standout if you were just walking by it. The interior is quite small with two display cases at the front and side and that’s really it. The lady who runs the place is quite nice and can speak English pretty decently if you don’t speak Chinese.
Here’s what we got:
Pork Floss And Crème Bun
This is a baked bun that has pork floss (rou song) and a slightly savory white crème in the middle. The bun itself was quite good; it had a slightly sweet flavor and was nicely moist. The pork floss was good as well, but I’m just not a fan of the savory cream which sort of reminds me of room temperature butter. This is a good version of this type of bun and probably the best one I’ve had in NY, but as a dish it’s just not my thing. 7/10
Egg Tart (Dan Ta)
The actual egg custard was pretty good; it had a decently egg-y flavor and was fresh. The crust was standard, but not as flaky as I like it. It was a pretty decent rendition, but I prefer Double Crispy or Ka Wah. 7.75/10
Coconut and Red Bean Pudding
This is a square of cold coconut and red bean pudding with some coconut shavings on top. The pudding is creamy, but fairly light and not too sweet. It’s not heavily flavored and generally tastes a bit more of coconut than red bean as the red bean flavor is faint. It’s decent although I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it, but if you happen to be here might be worth trying. 7.5/10
Vanilla Cake Roll
The cake was decent although it could’ve been a bit moister. The vanilla crème was good and it’s slightly salty which I liked as it contrasts nicely against the sweet cake. It was decent, but nothing special. 7.25/10
Steamed Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao)
The bun itself was pretty decent, fresh and reasonably fluffy. However, I wasn’t crazy about the sauce; it was that red sweet sauce and it was a bit gloppy and too sweet. I much prefer Mei Li Wah’s to these. 7/10
Mango and Coconut Glutinous Rice Ball
This is the standout here. It’s a fairly large mango flavored glutinous rice ball covered in coconut shavings with fresh mango in the middle. The lady told me to eat it the same day. The glutinous rice ball was very soft and tender with a slight mango flavor and was sweet although not too sweet. The coconut shavings add a nice textural contrast and flavor. The mango in the middle was very fresh and tasted great. This is the one thing I’d say is worth coming here for. 8.25/10
Overall, everything at this bakery is fairly decent and it’s definitely an above average bakery in NY. Although I didn’t feel like anything was particularly standout with the exception of the mango ball and I prefer Double Crispy and Ka Wah for Chinese pastries.
79 Chrystie St (between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10002
Sakura-Ya is an old store opened in 1960 that specializes in Japanese confectionary called mochi and manju. They are old school still make all their mochi by hand and still owned by the same family. However, the original husband and wife I grew up seeing seem to have largely retired and younger generations of the family run it day to day. This is great news because I’ve actually been worried for years that it would shut down when the original owners retired, which would be a huge shame.
It’s located in an old strip of stores in Gardena. For a long time it looked like no one had renovated the exterior since 1960, but recently they re-did the store front and it looks much better. However, the interior has looked exactly the same for as long as I can remember. It’s a white room with display cases and a bit of decoration, but overall it’s pretty bare bones. The staff is mainly family and are extremely nice.
Starting from top left going clockwise: kuri manju, imo manju, ohagi, kinako green mochi, pink mochi, kinako green mochi (again), kashiwa mochi, kiku manju , white mochi and green mochi
Here’s what we got:
This manju has an exterior made of wheat flour and mashed chestnut filling. The exterior is quite thin and moist while the filling is sweet, smooth, doesn’t have a strong flavor and is a bit drier (although not in a bad way). It’s a simple pastry, but it’s good. 8/10
This manju has a similar exterior to the kuri manju, but is filled with mashed sweet potato. The sweet potato filling has been spiced with cinnamon, which gives it a fantastic flavor. This is one of my favorite items here. 8.5/10
Ohagi is a type of mochi that has red beans on the outside with a ball of glutinous rice in the middle. The beans have the casings giving it a nice textural contrast. It tastes exactly how it sounds and is one of my favorite mochi. 8.5/10
Kinako Green Mochi
These are mochi where the skins have yomogi (mugwort) in them giving them a green color and a certain flavor which is sort of hard to describe, but is quite light. The rice dough at Sakura-Ya is so good; it’s extremely soft and delicate, much more so than other stores. The red bean filling is perfect; not too sweet, smooth, but still has textural contrast from the red bean casing. It is also topped with kinako powder, which is a roasted soybean powder that gives it a slightly bitter flavor, which I enjoy a lot. 8.5/10
This mochi is pink because of food coloring. The skins are the same, so they’re amazing. The filing is mashed white bean, which is very smooth and sweet. It has a slightly more muted flavor than red bean, but is just as good. This is a must-order. 8.5/10
This type of mochi is wrapped in a leaf. The dough is much more gooey and sticky than the normal mochi and the leaf imparts a certain sort of herbal flavor to the dough. The filling is the same red bean filling. While this is still quite good, it’s not quite as good as the regular mochi. 8/10
This manju has a very thin open pancake made of wheat flour that is filled white mochi and red bean paste. It tastes just like it sounds and while it’s pretty good, it’s not my favorite overall. I found the rice dough to be not quite as soft and delicate as the rest and I prefer the straight dough with beans as opposed to the pancake. 7.5/10
This is straight forward rice dough with red bean paste. This is a really good one. 8.5/10
Same as the kinako green mochi without the kinako. This is another winner. 8.5/10
Overall, this place is great and it really stands out from the crowd. I highly suggest trying it out.
16134 S Western Ave
Gardena, CA 90247
New Kam Hing is an old school Cantonese coffee shop on Baxter Street in Chinatown. It’s really small consisting only of a kitchen and small display counter. It’s a true specialist only offering a handful of items and for many years it’s been known for its great sponge cakes.
It was originally run by an old Cantonese woman, but she decided to retire at one point and I heard it was going to close. However, it appears that the Mexican worker who has worked there forever has taken over and now runs the place (he can speak some Cantonese btw), so it appears that this place will be running for a long time to come hopefully.
There is only one thing to order here and this is it. This is an egg-y sponge cake that will remind you of an egg-y version of angel food cake. The version here is moist, egg-y and quite good. The only version I’ve had in NY that is close to it is Ka Wah, which you can read about here. While pretty-self-explanatory this is definitely quite good. One thing to note is that they are significantly better when they are freshly baked as opposed to when they have been sitting around (I suggest warming them up in the microwave if you come when they have been sitting around for a while). 8.5/10
Overall, while not a destination spot if you’re in Chinatown during the day this is a great place to pick up a nice light snack.
119 Baxter St, Ste B (between Canal St & Hester St)
New York, NY 10013
Mei Li Wah is a Chinatown institution and my blog would not be complete if I didn’t cover it. It’s a cha chaan teng / cha can ting (literally means tea restaurant), which is a type of old school Cantonese restaurant that is common in Hong Kong serving tea, coffee and various cheap foods. In particular Mei Li Wah is known for its various buns.
Originally, Mei Li Wah was a rundown super old school Toisonese run place, but a few years ago they changed ownership, renovated the restaurant and hired a much younger staff. Now it’s a much brighter, cleaner and new looking restaurant. The service is still fairly quick and brisk although it’s nicer than before when the old guys had little patience if you didn’t know what you wanted right away although some people liked that as part of the character of the place. I’m not one for nostalgia, but I do miss the old school feel of the old Mei Li Wah a bit.
Generally, I stick to their buns, which are all displayed up front as I find a lot of their other food to be pretty mediocre.
Steamed Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao / Cha Shao Bao):
This is their most famous item. It’s a fluffy steamed white bun filled with diced cha siu (BBQ pork) in a brown sauce. One of the major differences between MLW’s and others’ versions is that the sauce is much more savory and brown than the normal sweeter red sauce. The sauce is the best thing about this bun as I really like that savory flavor. The cha siu itself is decent although sometimes it can a bit too much fat in it. The bun has a nice slight sweetness to it, but I’ve noticed over the last year or so that it’s become noticeably less fluffy than it used to be. I still think this is the best cha siu bao in Chinatown, but because of the decline in quality of the bun I’d say it’s good, but no longer great. 7.75/10 or 8/10 on a good day (a few years ago I’d have probably given it an 8.25 rating)
Baked Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao / Cha Shao Bao):
This is baked white bun filled with diced cha siu (BBQ pork) in a brown sauce. Same exact filling as the steamed version. While I normally much prefer steamed cha siu bao, MLW’s baked version is actually quite good and maybe better than its steamed version as the bread is quite good with a nice honey glaze on the outside. 8/10
Big Bun (Dai Bao / Da Bao):
This is another famous offering. It is similar to a cha siu bao except it’s bigger and filled with chicken, Chinese sausage, half boiled egg and shitake mushrooms. They used to make these quite well, but I’ve noticed that the bun has gotten way too dry since they switched ownership. The filling tastes like it sounds and is reasonably tasty. Overall, it’s decent version, but not great. 7.25/10
Cocktail Bun (Gai Mei Bao / Ji Wei Bao):
This is the sleeper for me here. This is a baked bun with sugar on top and a minced buttery and sweet coconut filling. The bread is nicely moist and the sugar on top adds nice textural contrast. The filling is good and not too buttery like most places. I’m not sure everyone will like this as much as I do because I really like gai mei bao, but they make this really well. 8.25/10
Overall, they are pretty decent cha siu bao and certainly better than the vast majority in Chinatown which are quite mediocre. I’d recommend coming to try out the cha siu bao and the cocktail bun.
64 Bayard St (between Mott St & Elizabeth St)
New York, NY 10013
Mitsuru Café is one of three Japanese places that I can literally remember going to for as long as I’ve been alive; the other two being Sakae Sushi and Sakura-Ya in Gardena. All of these places serve very simple Japanese dishes that I love and fondly remember.
Mitsuru Café is a little café located in Japanese Village in Little Tokyo. While they have renovated the outside, the inside still looks like it’s from the 60s with old faded walls with specials taped on them, a counter with an open kitchen and old wooden tables. At the front window they have a griddle that cooks the imagawayaki as well as a display case showing a variety fried foods and other stuff such as dango. Its super old school and really brings you back. I rarely sit down and eat, but when I’m close to Downtown LA I almost always stop by and get some food for myself or to bring back to my family.
This is what you will see people waiting in line for. Imagawayaki is a pancake cooked in a griddle with red bean in the middle. More commonly you will see taiyaki which are the fish shaped ones. The key to a good imagawayaki are being fresh off the grill, good tasting batter and the right batter to bean ratio. Surprisingly, I’ve had a hard time finding a good one in Asia even in Tokyo and Taipei where they are very common. One of the three characteristics is always wrong; it’s a cheap snack and most of the vendors just don’t take them seriously. Mitsuru still makes the best one for me. They are really fresh, hot and slightly crispy, the batter is not too thick and has a really good flavor. The only knock is that the an (red bean paste) is a bit too sweet. I highly recommend trying these. 8.5/10
Ohagi are a type of mochi with red bean on the outside and a rice ball in the middle; definitely one of my favorite. The ones here are true home style and taste like the ones my family made when I was a kid. They’re pretty ugly, but the beans are really fresh and the rice balls are very nice as well. It’s a simple confectionery, but you’ll notice the difference versus the ones you buy in the super markets. 8.25/10
Daifuku / Yomogi / Black Sesame Daifuku:
These are also homemade. The daifuku are the standard white ones, the yomogi the green ones that use mugwort (one of my favorite) and the black sesame daifuku are the ones covered in black sesame. All of them have red bean in the middle. Even though these are homemade honestly they don’t taste much different than the major local brands like Mikawaya. They are still good, nicely fresh and taste just like they sound. While not exceptional like Sakura-Ya, they are quite good and worth eating if you happen to be buying other stuff. 7.75/10
Inari are a type of sushi that look like footballs. They are marinated tofu skins stuffed with sushi rice and sesame seeds. They are fresh and pretty decent although they’re not great like the ones at Sakae Sushi. Again these are good and worth checking out if you’re here, but not going to blow you away. 7.75/10
These are the sushi rolls that have tamago (sweet egg omelet), takuan (yellow radish pickle), this pink sweet stuff that looks like cotton candy and pickled gobo (burdock root). The ones here are pretty standard and while tasty not out of the ordinary. These are another one worth checking out if you’re here, but not worth going out of your way for. 7.75/10
Overall, if you want to try some great imagawayaki and homemade mochi, I’d highly recommend coming here because this is the type of stuff that one day you will not be able to find anymore. Also please note that they only carry the ohagi and mochi on the weekends.
117 Japanese Village Plz Mall
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Yeh’s is a Taiwanese bakery that’s been recommended to me for a long time, but it’s taken me years to finally getting around to trying it. When I decided to revisit Main Street Imperial, which you can read about here, I decided I should do lunch so that I could try Yeh’s as well.
Yeh’s is located near Main Street Imperial which is not in downtown Flushing and is closer to the LIE. The bakery is very small with just two glass display cases. Unlike most Chinese bakeries, they have a much more limited selection consisting with a few types of cakes, cake rolls and traditional Chinese pastries such a sun cakes and moon cakes.
Sun Cake (Tai Yang Bing):
Sun cakes are a traditional Taiwanese pastry from Taizhong / Taichung. They are difficult to find outside Taiwan and last time I was in Taipei they were actually even difficult find to there with one bakery even jokingly telling me “go to Taizhong if you want those”. I believe they’re not that popular amongst younger generations. Anyhow, it’s a circular flaky pastry that looks similar to a wife cake (lao po bing) with a filling made of malt sugar. At Yeh’s the English name says “honey cake” or something like that and while the flaky exterior is normal, the filling does taste like honey which is not normal. However, I liked the honey flavor and it was much better than other sun cakes I’ve had in NY. It isn’t close to a real good one in Taiwan, but it’s a decent version and worth checking out. 7.75/10
This is what they are known for. It is a cake with cream custard filling and powdered sugar on top. The cake is extremely light and fluffy literally one of the lightest cakes I’ve ever had anywhere. The cream custard in the middle is also really light with the perfect level of sweetness (i.e. its sweet without being really sweet). While it’s really simple this is one of the best cakes I’ve had in Asian bakery even in Asia. I highly recommend you try this, it is really good. 8.75/10
Green Tea Roll:
This is another specialty. It’s a cake roll with green tea flavoring and vanilla cream in the middle. The cake is more dense than the Boston Pie and similar to pound cake. The green tea flavor is very light so you will barely notice it and the vanilla cream is again only slightly sweet. While not amazing I thought it was solidly good especially if like vanilla cake rolls as I do. 8/10
Overall, I really enjoyed this bakery a lot and if you like Asian style cakes then I highly recommend you try this place. I look forward to trying the rest of their cakes and pastries.
5725 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
When I was planning where to eat in Asia, I intentionally looked for a few rare dishes that I wanted to try because 1) I can’t get them in the US and 2) they were the types of old school stuff that is likely to disappear one day or at least be difficult to find made properly.
In Hong Kong, I ate at dai pai dongs and in Singapore I decided to try some interesting desserts. The three I came up with were mi chiam kueh, muah chee and putu piring. I didn’t end up having enough time to try all of them and only got to try the mi chiam kueh at Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake and putu piring at Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring. I’ll save muay chee at Hougang 6 Miles Famous Muah Chee for next time.
So what is putu piring? Putu piring is a steamed cake made out of rice flour dough filled with gula melaka (carmelized palm sugar) and topped with freshly grated coconut. It’s also called kueh tutu in Singapore, but I believe that’s basically the Chinese version where they mix the coconut with the gula melaka inside of grating it on top.
According to various blog posts I read many people consider Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring the best in Singapore and a couple of posts said the best ever. So I decided that I needed to try this place as I’ve only had kueh tutu once when I lived in Singapore a long time ago.
The stall is located in a mainly Malaysian part of Geylang. As with much of Geylang, the area feels much different than most of Singapore as it’s chaotic, dirty and there are tons of street stalls set up. It actually feels much more like Malaysia than Singapore. Also, it’s located inside the Mr. Teh Tarik; I got kind of lost and had to ask some people where it is, so hopefully this saves you some time finding the place (there is a picture of it below).
The outside cake is soft and has a very similar texture to an Indian idli if you’ve ever had that. The inside is sweet and tastes similar to brown sugar. The grated coconut is very fresh and I was slightly surprised because they lightly salted the coconut so it was very slightly salty, which I was not expecting. Overall, I thought these were really tasty; they are the type of thing that I would get all the time if this place was close to where I lived. 8.75/10
Overall, I enjoyed this and I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the area.
#01-02 Mr. Teh Tarik Coffee Stall
970 Geylang Road
Singapore sits right on the equator and if you’ve never been there then you might not realize exactly how hot and muggy it is. During the day you end up sweaty and wanting something refreshing. After finishing eating at Outram Park Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh, which you can read about here, I decided ice kachang sounded pretty good and walked over to check out Annie’s Peanut Ice Kachang.
Almost every country in Asia has their own version of shaved ice, but they all are the same basic premise of a mound of shaved ice with sweet toppings. In Singapore and Malaysia, it’s called ice kachang. Ice kachang is a mound of ice that usually has colorful sweet syrup (sometimes even gula melaka), condensed milk and a variety of toppings that can include red beans, sweet corn, grass jelly, cendol and attap chee (palm seeds that look like weird eye balls) among other things.
Annie’s is a hawker stall located in Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre, which is a small hawker center located on the 2nd floor of a huge residential building in Tanjong Pagar close to Chinatown. This hawker center is kind of old school as its cramped, run down and quite hot; definitely a very local vibe. At the stall you’ll immediately notice the amount of media clippings and awards she has as it’s a fairly well heralded stall.
The lady (presumably Annie) who runs the stall is really friendly and was very happy that I liked her ice kachang. Not sure how well she speaks English, but the whole menu is in English so you’ll have no problem.
The ice at Annie’s is quite fine; it’s not total powder like the best shaved ice desserts I’ve had, but it’s definitely more fine than average, which is great. Now as I mentioned before ice kachang can have a lot of ingredients in it, but Annie’s keeps it’s pretty simple with ground peanuts, red beans, sweet corn and the little green worm shaped jellies you get in cendol. So what’s the twist? The twist here is that she adds ground peanuts, which is not common at all, in fact this is the first time I’ve ever had it on ice kachang. According to some blogs Annie actually started this (I don’t know whether that is true or not). Anyhow, the peanuts are not factory made and are roasted and ground at the stall. You can really taste the difference as they are very fragrant, have great crunchy texture and really add a nice dimension to the ice kachang. The other thing is that while it looks really sweet because of the syrup, it’s actually not that sweet, which I like. You almost felt like you ate nothing after finishing this. While it’s not as good as the best shaved ice I’ve had in Taiwan (I think they make the best shaved ice) it was very good and certainly an above average ice kachang. 8.5/10
Overall, I enjoyed the simplicity of the ice kachang here and it was very refreshing on a hot day. I don’t think it’s a destination type place, but if you in the area I’d definitely check it out.
Tanjong Pagar Market and Food Centre, Stall #02-36
6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
As I just discussed in my Nam Sing post, I ate at many places at Old Airport Road Food Centre. Another place I stumbled upon was Geylang Lor 20 Banana Fritters. Here they serve pisang goreng, which is a Malaysian dish that is just fried plantains except here they used pisang raja which are a type of sweet banana. The batter was nice, it wasn’t overly thick and wasn’t oily whatsoever. The banana inside was sweet and this was a very nice fritter. 8.25/10
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Overall, this isn’t a destination type place, but if you’re at Old Airport Road Centre it’s worth trying out.
Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-57
51 Old Airport Road
Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake is a stall at Tanglin Halt Market that specializes in mi chiam kueh (mian qian gao), which are pancakes with various fillings that I believe are Hokkien (southern Fujian) in origin. However, this stall is specifically famous for their peanut mee chiam kueh.
Tanglin Halt Market is a very local hawker center where you will see no foreigners at all. When I told the cab driver I wanted to go there he told me in his Singlish “wah you really must like the local taste lah, not for foreigners lah, why you want to go there?”, I explained that I was going to try the mi chiam kueh at Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake and to which he responded that it was very good and that he used to live right next to Tanglin Halt Market and used to get these all the time. I felt pretty good after that that I was in for a treat.
Anyhow, the hawker center has two parts to it and I actually ended up in the wrong part at first and was searching for stall 16 for probably 10-15 minutes before I found it. It’s located in the part that has a wet market connected to it and is one long strip of hawker stalls as opposed to the other part which is like a bunch of clusters of stalls.
There is an old husband and wife couple who run the stall with the husband doing the cooking and the wife doing prep work and serving customers. The old lady was really nice and sweet. I don’t know whether they speak English or not, but everything is translated into English so you shouldn’t have any problems either way.
I found this video of the stall, which you can see here. It’s cool because you can really tell how much pride they take in their work when you listen to him talk; he talks about how he does his prep work and how he is really happy to see his customers come back.
Here’s what I got:
Peanut Pancake (Hua Sheng Mian Qian Gao):
I’ve only had this once before at the place at Maxwell Road Center and it was so long ago that I don’t even really remember what it was like, so this was effectively like my first time trying it. It’s a pancake that he fills with a mixture of ground roasted peanuts and sugar and then folds it over and cuts up. The interesting thing about the dough is that he uses a yeast culture instead of the usual baking soda, which gives it a different texture. I found the texture of the dough to be more gummy than I was expecting (it’s not like an American pancake or breadlike at all), but it was good and mine was pretty warm and fresh, which definitely makes a difference. The peanut and sugar mixture is really good, they roast their own peanuts (he says he takes a day off to do prep work such as roasting peanuts) and you can really taste the difference. The peanuts are crunchy, flavorful and sweet without being overly sweet. They also give you a lot and I was eating the left over ground peanuts out of the bag because they were so good. Overall, I thought this was pretty good and I’d definitely come back. 8.5/10
Yam Pancake (Yu Ni Mian Qian Gao):
This was the same dough, but it was enclosed and looks exactly like a Japanese imagawayaki that you find in Japan and Taiwan (I grew up eating imagawayaki). However, again the dough was more gummy than bready. This was not as good because it had been sitting around longer and when it cools down the dough gets harder and doesn’t taste nearly as good as the fresher warm peanut pancake I had. The sweet yam filling was pretty good though as it wasn’t too sweet and had good flavor. This was decent, but nothing special. 7.75/10 (this probably could’ve been a lot better if it was fresh)
I enjoyed coming here as the peanut pancake was very tasty and this is the type of place that I’m sure will not exist in 10 years and you won’t have people making this the old school way where make everything from scratch. I’d recommend coming and trying it out before it’s gone.
Also, they are open 5am to 11am and closed on Mondays and Fridays (I came here at 8am to make sure I didn’t miss it).
Tanglin Halt Market – Stall 16
48 Tanglin Halt Road
We started the night by having dinner at Fisherman’s Cuisine Hamayaki Taisho in Tai Hang. Tai Hang is a really cool up and coming neighborhood that has a lot of cool restaurants. It’s got this mix of old school and modern and it’s pretty low-key, but with a somewhat trendy vibe to it. Anyhow, after dinner I decided that I wanted dessert and we happened to walk by Xiao Tian Gu (小甜谷), which was totally full and had some people waiting. That’s usually a good sign, so I stopped in and got an order of black sesame tang yuan (hei zhi ma tang yuan) in ginger soup.
Black Sesame Tang Yuan (Hei Zhi Ma Tang Yuan):
Tang yuan are rice dough balls with filling, in this case ground up black sesame and sugar. This was honestly some of the best tang yuan I’ve ever had. The dough was perfectly tender, the filling had great flavor without being too sweet and the ginger soup wasn’t too sweet, gingery or watery (all typical downfalls of this dessert). I was really happy about it since it is a favorite Chinese dessert of mine. 9/10
The other desserts looked really good and I’m definitely going to stop in again next time I’m in Hong Kong. Also, fyi the sign is only in Chinese, so look at the characters I wrote earlier if you stop by.
G/F, 10-11B School Street, Tai Hang
Phone: 2882 6133
I’ve been meaning to come to Cong Sao (聰嫂私房甜品) for a long time, but every time I’ve tried to go there was a very long line, so I never ended up going. However, on this trip I met up with a friend and made sure to go at an off hour and luckily there was a table available immediately.
Hong Kong style desserts generally fall into two categories; one is the old school stuff that old people eat, which you can see an example of here and the other is newer style desserts which is what Cong Sao serves. These desserts are quite a bit different than American desserts with lots of mango, durian, jellies, soups and puddings as opposed to cookies and cakes etc. I’m a big fan of both styles of desserts and it’s difficult to find good versions in the US, so I always make it a point to get these when I’m in Hong Kong.
This is a thin crepe-like pancake that is filled with a very light and sweet crème and durian (mango is the other fruit that they usually make this with as well). I believe the original Honeymoon Dessert in Sai Kung invented these although I’m not 100% sure about that. However, I remember in the early 2000s going to Honeymoon in Sai Kung before it became a big chain and people raving about these there and it sounded like it was something they invented. Anyhow, the version here is excellent. The pancakes are thin and just slightly chewy which I like. The crème is light and not too sweet and it pairs really well with durian. Now obviously you have to like durian although the durian here is not super strong, so I think even those who don’t really like durian would be okay with this. If you don’t like durian I’d recommend getting the mango. 9/10
Mango Tapioca in Coconut Milk:
This is pretty simple; it’s chunks of mango in an ice cold soup of coconut milk with tapioca in it. I like this dessert a lot, the combo of mango and coconut milk is really good and mangos just taste a lot better in Asia than they do in the US, they are much sweeter and have better flavor and texture. They made the coconut milk a bit sweeter than I prefer, but still good overall although there are dessert places in HK that definitely have better versions that the one here. 8.25/10
Mango Sago with Grass and Mango Jelly in Coconut Milk:
I’ll admit that sago looks like some weird alien egg or eyeballs, so sorry if they gross anyone out (my gf thought it looks really gross). This was like the prior dessert except not served as cold and it had sago and grass and mango jelly in it. Sago is made from palm stems, which you can read about here in this wiki article. They don’t taste like much, but they do give a nice texture. I’d say the same about the jellies. While similar to the other dessert, I like the textural aspect of this one a bit better. 8.5/10
Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls:
These are called tang yuan in Chinese and they are probably one of my favorite Chinese deserts. They are glutinous rice balls filled with ground up black sesame with sugar in a hot sweet ginger soup. They taste just like they sound, but I also really love the texture of the super soft rice dough with the crunch of the sesame and sugar. The tang yuan here quite good with nice flavor and texture, but the soup was a too gingery for me as it was very strong. 8.0/10 (8.5/10 for the tang yuan, 7.5/10 for the soup)
Overall, the pancake was really good and the other desserts were solid although not the best versions I’ve had in HK. I would like to come back as some of the desserts that other customers were eating looked great.
Address: (note they moved a street away recently, so this is the new address)
G/F, 11 Yiu Wa Street, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣耀華街11號地舖
Phone: 2278 2622
Tai Cheong is a very famous bakery in Central District, Hong Kong. They’re well known for all of their pastries, but they are particularly famous for their dan ta, which are Chinese egg custard tarts. I’ve been coming to Tai Cheong for over a decade, but I haven’t been in my last two trips to Hong Kong. Back in the day Tai Cheong was a rundown bakery with lines out the door; fast forward to today and it’s been bought by a publicly traded company (Tao Heung Group), expanded to have branches all over Hong Kong and totally renovated so it’s very nice inside now. What does that sound like to me? It sounds like a recipe for a massive decline in quality. However, I had to give it a try to see if that was actually the case or not.
Here’s what we got:
Drum roll…so how was the dan ta? Thankfully the answer is that they are as good as ever. They are definitely one of the best if not the best I’ve ever had. The flavor is amazing; the custard is very egg-y tasting and not as sweet as most versions, which I like better. I got mine hot out of the oven, so it was really soft and delicious. The crust is great as well; it’s not overly buttery or oily like many are and it’s also more solid as opposed to flaky, which is different than most places. Even though I normally prefer the Portuguese style ones where it’s burnt on top (normally get them from Lord Stow’s) these are definitely of my favorite versions anywhere. 9.25/10
This is another pastry Tai Cheong is famous for. It’s a buttery thick pie crust filled with chicken, mushroom, peas and maybe a couple other vegetables in a thick semi-creamy sauce. It will remind you of a much less soup-y version of chicken pot pie. The crust is pretty moist and a bit salty. The inside tastes just like it sounds. I’m not the biggest fan of these in general, but it’d been a long time I’d had one and Tai Cheong’s version was better than most. 7.75/10
Overall, while it turned into a chain and the bakery got a lot nicer, the dan ta still taste exactly like I remember them and I highly recommend giving them a try if you’re in Hong Kong.
G/F, 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central 中環擺花街35號地下
Phone: 2544 3475
[button url=”https://www.taoheung.com.hk/en/brands/tai_cheong_bakery/index_p_2.html” target=”_blank” color=”grey-lite’]Website[/button]
Right now is a major Chinese holiday called Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋節); the actual date this year is September 30th, but it’s celebrated for a few weeks coming up to it. There is a long story associated with the holiday, but I’ll leave you to read this Wikipedia article to find out more about that. The reason you probably know about this holiday (assuming you’re not Chinese) is that people traditionally eat mooncakes at this time and right now if you go into any Chinese bakery or supermarket you will notice mooncakes everywhere.
Most mooncakes you will find here are imported from places such as Hong Kong, China and Malaysia, but some of the bakeries in Chinatown still make their own. I decided that it would be interesting to go try a few of the bakeries that are well known for their mooncakes, so that’s what this post is all about as I’d rather have a fresh mooncake than one that had to be imported.
Mooncakes are one of those things that you will tend to find that people either love or hate. I really like them, but I’ve had friends compare them to fruitcake in that it’s some weird traditional dessert people eat at a certain time of year, but no one likes them. Also, I’m writing about Cantonese style mooncakes, which will have a sweet filling generally made from lotus seed paste, red bean or winter melon paste. They can also contain salted duck egg yolks, melon seeds and mixed nuts and dried fruits. Other provinces in China have their own version of mooncakes, but I grew up eating Cantonese style mooncakes and that’s what’s readily available in NY, so that’s what I’m writing about. You can read this Wikipedia article about mooncakes to learn more about the various regional versions.
The three bakeries I tried were Kwong Wah, Lung Moon and New Golden Fung. I also bought one Hong Kong brand from Hong Kong Supermarket, which I thought was Wing Wah 榮華(a very famous HK brand), but it was the wrong brand. I was in a rush and saw the characters 榮華 in the name and just bought them, but I later realized that it wasn’t Wing Wah and was actually Grand Fortune. I should’ve known better since the box was so cheap at $15 for 4 mooncakes. Oh well, next time I’ll get the right brand. If you want to read more about Wing Wah, here’s a Wikipedia article.
For all the mooncake I tried, I got white lotus seed with one egg yolk.
The filling was extremely smooth, which was weird because while it’s supposed to be smooth this was just too smooth; it was also quite heavy, oily, not that sweet and tasted strongly of the lotus seed. The egg yolk was a little dry and didn’t have great flavor. The crust was fairly thin and a bit on the oily side. Overall, I thought it was fairly mediocre and not worth the calories. 6/10
The filling’s texture was exactly how it should be; it was smooth, but still had some texture. The flavoring was quite good; a nice lotus seed flavor that was much better than Kwong Wah and also sweeter than Kwong Wah, but I’d say that it was “normal” sweetness for a mooncake. The egg yolk was a bit on dry side, but nicely salty which I really like against the sweetness of the mooncake. The crust was nice and not too oily or thick. Overall, I thought this was a surprisingly pretty respectable mooncake and worth trying. 7.75/10
New Golden Fung:
The filling had a similar consistency as Lung Moon, which was good. It was sweeter than Kwong Wah, but not as sweet as Lung Moon and the lotus seed flavor was by far the least pronounced of the three to the point where it was almost undetectable. The egg yolk was very salty and too dry. The crust was quite crusty, which while not normal I kind of liked. Overall, it was a decent mooncake, but unremarkable mooncake that I found to be a little too plain as the lotus seed flavor was non-existent. 7/10
The filling was a quite dry with an odd chemical-y flavor that overpowered the lotus seed flavor. The egg yolk was very small and not salty enough. The crust was a little dry and rather thick. Overall, these were terrible, one of the worst brands I’ve ever tried, definitely do not buy these. 4/10
Overall, Lung Moon was definitely the best and the only one I would recommend trying. However, I still would default back to the Foh San brand of pandan flavored mooncakes that I’ve been buying for the last two years, which you can find at most Malaysian restaurants in NY.
Also, if you happen to have any recommendations I’d love to hear about them!
Kwong Wah: 210 Grand Street, New York, NY 10013; (212) 431-9575
Lung Moon: 81 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10013; (212) 349-4945
Golden Fung Wong Bakery: 41 Mott St (between Pell St & Bayard St) , New York, NY 10013; (212) 267-4037
Hong Kong Supermarket: 157 Hester St, New York, NY 10013; (212) 966-4943
Leaf Dessert 玉葉甜品 is an old school dai pai dong in Central, Hong Kong. Supposedly its 100 years old and this is the fourth generation to run this dai pai dong!
A dai pai dong is an open air stall that is basically somewhere in between street food and a restaurant. There used to be lots of them in Hong Kong, but the government changed the laws and it’s impossible to open one now and the ones that are still around are grandfathered in. I’ve been trying to eat at more of them when I come to Hong Kong because they are slowly dying and once they’re gone they’re not coming back. According to this Wikipedia article there are only 28 left in Hong Kong! So I’ve actually been to a reasonable percentage of them! Almost all of them in either Central or Sham Shui Po.
While they have regular food, Leaf Dessert specializes in old school Cantonese desserts and that’s what they’re really known for. The dai pai dong is located on Elgin Street on a hill; several of Central’s dai pai dongs are on or just off Elgin. The menu is only written in Chinese, so I’ve included all of the characters you’ll need to order and I doubt they speak much English as this is certainly not tourist food. The lady was pretty gruff, but I was expecting old school mean service because I feel like that’s how a lot of dai pai dong people are.
Here’s what I got:
Cold Green Bean Soup With Seaweed (Leng Hai Dai Liu Dou Tang 冷海帶綠豆湯):
This was sweet green bean soup that had barley in it (yi mi 薏米) and it’s also flavored with stinky grass (chou cao 臭草), which contrary to name is not stinky at all and adds a very slight herbal flavor to the dish. You had the option to get it cold (leng 冷) or hot (re 熱); I got it cold. You also had the option to add seaweed (hai dai 海帶) as well. The soup was really nice as it was flavorful and not too watery; a lot places make this way too watery and it just tastes like green beans in water. I also liked the added flavor and texture from the barley. The seaweed sounded kind of weird even for me, but I decided to try it and I’m glad I did. It was that thick kind of seaweed and I liked the extra texture that it gave the soup. This was very refreshing on a hot and muggy day in Hong Kong and was probably one of the best renditions I’ve tried. 8.5/10
Glutinous Rice Balls with Sugar, Sesame and Coconut Topping (Tang Bu Shuai 糖不甩):
I have no idea why they call it 糖不甩, which translate to “sugar thrown off”, anyone know why they call it this? Anyhow, it was four hot glutinous rice balls that were topped with a mixture of sugar, coconut and sesame seeds. The glutinous rice balls had great texture; very soft and chewy. The topping tastes like it sounds although the coconut flavor was not very strong. It all went together really well and I enjoyed this dish a lot. I’d highly recommend trying this dish. 9/10
I really enjoyed this place a lot although I’m a big fan of Chinese desserts and my girlfriend often say I like old people desserts and this is definitely Chinese old people food, so I’m not sure everyone will enjoy this as much as me, but I’d definitely recommend it anyhow.
2 Elgin Street, SOHO, Central
Phone: 2544 3795
**THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED (OR MOVED)**
Dragon beard candy is a fairly rare Chinese candy that surprisingly is found here in Manhattan’s Chinatown. A while back I’d seen this cart around a couple of times, but I figured that it went out of business because I only saw it a few times and it’s not really a Cantonese or Fujian candy, so I figured it just never got any traction. However, that seems to not be the case as it seems to be permanently located in a fish and vegetable market on Grand between Chrystie and Bowery.
Dragon Beard Candy:
Dragon beard candy looks like a bunch of white cocoons. Typically, it’s one of those things that I’ve found to be more of a novelty than something I craved, but I can respect someone who knows how to make it since I think it’s sort of a pain to make and has a very short shelf life. It’s made up of sugar, maltose syrup, ground peanuts and coconut. The sugar and maltose syrup is melted and pulled into fine strands, which is sort of similar to cotton candy, but finer. The interior is filled with a mixture of ground peanuts and coconut shavings. I found Yao’s version to be quite good, actually better than most other versions I’ve had. The strands are delicate and very fine and I liked the ground mixture in the inside. I enjoyed them enough to buy them more than once. Here’s a Wikipedia article about them. Overall, it’s pretty good and definitely worth a try. 8/10
If you’re in Chinatown, I’d suggest dropping in and giving it a try as it’s definitely not very easy to find even in Asia and it’s pretty tasty.
Grand Street between Chrystie and Bowery (located inside the market on the corner of Grand and Chrystie)
New York, NY
Essex Street Market is one of my favorite places in the Lower Eastside. It’s a closed air market with all sorts of mom and pop vendors. This is something that you do not really find in Manhattan, it’s very unique and reminds me of something you might find in Asia or Europe.
There are several vendors here such as Shopsin’s (restaurant), Roni Sue’s (chocolate shop) and Saxeby Cheesemongers (cheese shop) that serve great product and I plan on writing about all of them over time. However, my first post is going to be on Boubouki, which is probably my favorite vendor in Essex Street Market.
Boubouki is a tiny stall that is basically just a kitchen that is probably 10×10 at biggest. The owner is the only employee and she specializes in various Greek pastries. She is very nice and you can tell how much care is put into all of her wares and everything is baked fresh daily.
Here’s what I’ve tried:
This was a savory pastry made of phyllo dough filled with chopped spinach and feta cheese. The phyllo dough was nicely crispy and the filling was great, the combo of spinach and feta went really well together. I got it reasonably fresh and I’d imagine this would be really amazing straight out of the over. Overall, while this was a simple pastry it was really good. 8.5/10
I really like pear desserts, so this was something I knew I was going to like. It’s a simple cake with pears baked into the bottom of it and powdered sugar on top. I thought the cake would be dense, but instead had a wonderful spongy consistency that was very moist and slightly crispy on the outside. It was sweet, but not overly sweet and the pear and powdered sugar paired perfectly. This was one of the better pastries I’ve had in a long time. 8.75/10
While I like baklava, it often ends up being a very sweet, sticky and heavy mess (maybe I just don’t know where to buy it). However, the version here is different. While it is sweet from the honey, it’s not too sweet and the honey is nicely liquid-y and not a sticky mess. The phyllo dough was so good; it was light, flaky and delicious and the ground nut mixture was delicious as well. This was probably the best baklava I’ve ever tried. 8.75/10
The cookie was nicely crunchy, the chopped almonds complemented it well and the powdered sugar was the perfect complement to the cookie. While it was very simple, it was quite good. 8/10
This was not your normal American carrot cake. It was more like banana bread except with carrots. It had a spiced flavor similar to normal carrot cake, but it was lighter and not as dense. I thought this was excellent. 8.5/10
Overall, I really like this place and I’m looking forward to trying more of her pastries.
120 Essex Street (between Delancey and Rivington)
New York, NY 10002
This is a short post on Double Crispy Bakery, which is a bakery that I found a few months ago by accident walking around Chinatown. It doesn’t look any different or offer anything particularly different than other Chinatown bakeries. It’s fairly non-descript with a bunch of shelves and display cases showing off their various Chinese pastries, cakes etc. However, I noticed to the left of the cash register a display case showing of their dan ta (egg custards) and lao po bing (wife cake). They looked particularly fresh and good so I gave them a try and I’m glad I did.
Here’s what I get:
Dan Ta (Egg Custard Tart):
Ka Wah has been my go to bakery in Chinatown for dan ta, but I’ll have to say this place maybe better than Ka Wah. They offer three different types of dan ta: Portuguese / Macau style, regular and egg white. The ones to get here are the Portuguese / Macau style. These have always been my favorite type of dan ta. They have the exact same crust and egg custard filling as the regular ones you see, but they are burnt on top, so they have a slight caramelized flavor to them. The ones here were surprisingly good, the crust was nicely flaky and the custard was warm, fresh and egg-y. They weren’t quite as burnt on top as I like them, but overall I liked them quite a bit. I definitely recommend trying these and if they aren’t already warm when you get them then take them home and put them in the microwave because there is a world of difference between a warm dan ta and a room temperature one (fyi every time I’ve got gone they have been warm). 8.25/10
Lao Po Bing (Wife Cake):
Lao po bing is a thin disc shaped pastry that has a flaky and slightly buttery exterior and a filling made of sweet dong gua (winter melon). Normally, they are fairly thin and pretty big and the interior is usually slightly gooey, but the version here is a little different. The crust is a thicker and flaky crust, but the actual pastry is quite small. The filling isn’t gooey at all, it’s a little more dense and isn’t quite as sweet as normal. They also use more salt in the crust, so there is a slight saltiness to it. I think they’re delicious and I definitely recommend trying them out. 8/10
This is a solid bakery and it’s definitely worth checking out for the items I listed above.
230 Grand St (between Elizabeth St & Bowery)
New York, NY 10013
Beautiful Memory Dessert, formerly known as Manji Dessert, is a rip-off of a very famous dessert shop in Hong Kong called Honeymoon Dessert (man ji tian pin / 满记甜品). Honeymoon Dessert started off as a dessert shop in Sai Kung and eventually expanded to having branches all over HK and other parts of Asia. I’ve actually been to the original many years ago before they got really big and it was one of the best dessert shops that I’ve tried in Hong Kong. I’ve also eaten at some of their other branches in Hong Kong more recently, which are good as well. You can see the original branch here.
Manji Dessert opened in the New World Mall with the exact same logo and Chinese name as Honeymoon, but with a different English name (Manji is simply the transliteration of the Chinese name). The actual Honeymoon quickly put out a statement saying that this was not a real branch of Honeymoon, which you can see here.
So with all that drama put forth, on to the actual review. The types of desserts that this place serves are Hong Kong style desserts. They are mainly things like mango and durian pancakes and various different types of sweet soups that usually have fruits and sago in them. They are generally fairly light and not overly sweet. I really love these types of dessert, but it’s very hard to find a good version outside of Hong Kong.
This stall is a little different than most of the stalls at the New World Mall as you can actually sit inside the stall. While it’s small, it’s definitely nicer than sitting in the regular seating because it’s much less hectic and loud. The servers are nice, but they seem to get overwhelmed a lot of times between taking orders from customers getting desserts to go and customers inside the store.
Here’s what we got:
In Hong Kong, this is my favorite thing to get at Honeymoon. It’s a thin slightly spongy crepe-like pancake that is filled with a very light and fluffy crème that is sweet, but not too sweet and mashed up durian. There is also a mango version, which I love as well, but they never seem to have it here. While not as good as the real deal, the version here was enjoyable (assuming you like durian). The pancake was not as thin and delicate as the one in HK, but it was decent. The crème was pretty good although again not as light and fluffy as the one in HK. The durian was surprisingly tasty especially considering that durians have to be frozen and sent to the US (they aren’t as stinky and tasty afterwards). Overall, I enjoyed it and thought it was passable version and it’s nice to find it since it is almost impossible to find in the U.S. 7.75/10
Mango Glutinous Dumpling:
This was glutinous rice balls covered in coconut shavings with a small piece of fresh mango inside. It tastes similar to how it sounds. The texture of the glutinous rice was soft and a bit chewy, the coconut shavings were decent (I think they’re more for texture) and the piece of mango in the middle was nicely ripe and sweet. That said while I like rice dough desserts, I’m not that big a fan of glutinous rice dough desserts (there’s a difference), so this was just decent for me. 7/10
Mango Pomelo Soup:
This is a sweet and slightly creamy mango soup that has pomelo (very similar to a grapefruit), chopped up mango and sago (tapioca balls that are made from sago palm pith). In Hong Kong, this is one of my favorite dishes, but unfortunately it fell a bit flat here. The mango, sago and pomelo were all fine; the mango was sweet and ripe, the sago wasn’t mushy and the pomelo had a decent grapefruit flavor. However, the actual soup was pretty bland, it should be a flavorful and refreshing soup and instead it was a bit dull, so this was a bit of a disappointment. 6.75/10
Black Sesame Rice Balls in Walnut Soup:
Tang yuan are rice dough balls filled with sweet fillings usually ground up black sesame or crushed peanuts. It is one of my favorite Chinese desserts. It’s often served in either a sweet soup or hot water. We got it in a walnut soup, but I’m not a huge fan of walnut soups generally as they are pretty thick and somewhat pasty, I find they overpower whatever is in them. The version here was just okay. However, the tang yuan were quite good, the rice dough was melt in your mouth soft and the black sesame filling was nice and not too sweet. I would get this again, but switch out the walnut soup for something else. 7.5/10 (7/10 for the walnut soup, 8.25/10 for the tang yuan)
Thai Black Glutinous Rice with Mango in Vanilla Ice:
This was balls of black glutinous rice, sliced mango on a bed of vanilla ice. The black glutinous rice balls are sticky and nicely al dente. The mango was nicely ripe and sweet. The vanilla ice had a similar flavor to vanilla ice cream, but it was small chunks of ice. I enjoyed the combo of flavors and I liked the texture of the black glutinous rice balls, but I wish the ice was more powdery or if you switched it for coconut milk that would be even better. That said, I enjoyed eating it and I would get it again. 7.75/10 (would be higher rating if the ice was better)
While it’s not as good as the real deal in Hong Kong and it’s been getting panned on Yelp due to the fact that it’s a rip off, some of the desserts are worth trying. I’ve been stopping here a lot after my meals in Flushing for dessert and I think it’s worth checking out.
40-21 Main St (Between Main Street and Union)
Flushing, NY 11354
**THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED, BUT YOU CAN FIND THESE MOONCAKES AT OTHER MALAY RESTAURANTS IN NY**
This is a quick post about my mooncake of choice this Mid-Autumn Festival (the Chinese holiday which you are supposed to eat mooncakes). I actually wrote about this brand briefly last year when I wrote about Overseas Taste Restaurant, which you can see here.
However, this time I took pictures, so people could see what they look like. To recap, Foh San (富山茶楼) is a famous dim sum restaurant and mooncake bakery in Ipoh, Malaysia. Ipoh is a mainly Chinese city in Malaysia that is known for having very good Chinese food. I remember when I lived in Singapore people used to tell me I should go to Ipoh because the food there was amazing. Unfortunately, I never made it up there although I will one day. Interestingly, I got in a discussion with klyeoh on chowhound who actually went to Foh San for dim sum because of our conversation, which was pretty cool and you can see it here and here.
Anyhow, last year I found Foh San mooncakes at several Malaysian restaurants in NY, but I’ve been buying mine at Overseas since it’s easy to get to and it’s in the city.
Imperial Jade Mooncakes:
Foh San has several different flavors, but I prefer the “Imperial Jade” (光輝翠月). One of the main differences between these mooncakes and other mooncakes you’ll find in Chinatown is that the lotus paste is mixed with coconut milk and pandan leaves and there are crunchy bits of melon seeds in there as well. I really like the flavor a lot better than the traditional version. Also, I prefer to get one egg yolk as the saltiness of the egg yolk contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the lotus paste. These are excellent. 8.5/10
If you’re buying mooncakes this year I’d highly recommend trying this brand.
49 Canal St (bet Ludlow St & Orchard St)
New York City, NY 10002
Panade is a small café that I’ve been going to for a few years, but for some reason I never wrote a post about it. They serve various pastries, cookies and coffee. However, the reason I love this place are the crème puffs.
The place is run by young Chinese-American woman who is very friendly. Originally, the shop was across the street in a very small space, but recently they moved across the street into a much bigger space. This is great because I assume that they moved because they are doing well. The inside walls are exposed brick, there is a big counter where the food is showcased and prepared and there are tables along the back end of the store.
Banana Crème Puff:
The reason I come here is for their banana crème puff. It’s similar to Beard Papa’s, but better. The puffs are fresh and fluffy, they dust powdered sugar on them and the filling is great. The banana pudding filling is so good, great banana flavor and fresh sliced bananas. These are great. 8.5/10
Overall, I highly recommend stopping by Panade as it is really good.
132A Eldridge St (between Broome St & Delancey St)
Manhattan, NY 10002
I found Thanh Son via Yelp and I’ve been going every time I come home from NY. Thanh Son specializes in soy bean products such as tofu and soy bean milk. They also sell a variety of Vietnamese snacks.
It’s a small store in a relatively new looking strip small. The store is actually fairly clean and new looking as opposed to most places in Little Saigon which look run down and sort of dirty. On the left side of the store they have refrigerators that have soy bean milk, tofu and various other products they make. The middle section has the cashier, fruits and a sort of steam table set up with a variety of fried tofu that they make. The right side has a table of various Vietnamese snacks and dried goods.
Here’s what I got on my last trip:
Sua Dau Nanh (Pandan Flavored Soy Bean Milk):
This is the main reason I come here. They make great soy bean milk here. It’s very clean tasting, not powdery, not too sweet and generally has a good flavor. I really like the pandan flavored one (hence the reason it is green). Pandan is a type of leaf that is used extensively in southeast Asian food (Malaysian, Vietnamese etc). It has a particular flavor that I find hard to describe as it’s pretty unique, the closest I can explain it is sort of coconut-y, but not really. It tastes so good with the soy bean milk, my GF who doesn’t even like soy bean milk thinks this version is pretty good. I could drink this everyday. 8.5/10
Bahn Bo Nuong (Baked Rice Cake):
I randomly got this last time. It looks like bread, but it’s actually a rice cake. It has a somewhat glutinous texture and tastes similar to this Cantonese rice cake thing I used to eat when I was a kid. It’s sort of just sweet, not much more to it than that. It was decent, but I didn’t love it. 6.75/10
I got the wrong one, I got one before that was stuffed with meat, noodles and mushrooms and that one was really good. This was just fried tofu with no real flavoring to it, so it was kind of plain. It tasted much better when you put some sriracha sauce on it. If you go here get the one that is stuffed with meat not this one. 6.75/10
I didn’t get tofu this time, but they do have good tofu as well.
Overall, I really like the soy bean products at this place and I highly recommend it for that.
9688 Westminster Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844
This summer I found Hien Khanh by accident when I was going to Thanh Son, now I pretty much come here every time I’m back at home from NY.
Hien Khanh specializes in che (Vietnamese sweet soups) and xoi (sweet or savory glutinous rice). It’s located in a small strip mall in Little Saigon. There isn’t any décor to speak of and the place is basically just a big cafeteria style steam table which has various desserts and other goods and there are some small refrigerators in the back.
I don’t think most of workers speak English very well, but they can speak enough to get by and I’ve sort of figured out what I’ve liked by just going there a few times. Plus everything is laid out in front of you, so it’s very easy to figure out what you’re ordering.
Here’s what I got last time:
Che Ba Mau:
This is a drink / dessert made from mung beans, red bean, coconut milk, tapioca, these multi colored jellies and a mung bean paste that tastes like custard. It’s served cold with semi-crushed ice. I eat it with a spoon and a straw. I really love che ba mau and this is the best version I’ve ever had. Everything tastes awesome and I really like the mung beans and the mung bean paste that tastes like custard. It’s reasonably rich and my mom who doesn’t even like rich desserts thought this was really good. I highly recommend getting this. 8.5/10
I think this maybe the best flan I’ve ever had. It looks similar to the Mexican flan except the flan is so light, so much lighter than the Mexican version. The caramel sauce at the bottom is great and really goes well with the flan, it’s not too sweet and just perfect. I could eat this all the time. 8.5/10
Sua Chua (Yogurt):
This is a Vietnamese yogurt that is very thick. It’s sweet and sour at the same time, it tastes sort of like Pink Berry although it’s a yogurt not a frozen yogurt and it’s more creamy. I like this a lot although it’s probably not as good as the other desserts, but it’s worth trying especially if you don’t like things that are too sweet as this is not too sweet. 7.75/10
This was a dish that was savory as opposed to sweet, but it looked really good so I decided to get it. It’s sticky rice that is topped with Chinese sausage, shredded pork, golden fried onions, dried shrimp and diced green onions. The combination of flavors is really great and goes great with the texture of the sticky rice, I really liked this dish. Also, the sticky rice was sticky, but not really heavy like some sticky rice. I highly recommend this although I really tastes a lot more Chinese than Vietnamese. 8.25/10
Xoi Nep Than:
This is black sticky rice was smeared with mung bean paste (same one that tastes like custard), sprinkled with sesame seeds, salt and shredded coconut. It also comes with a hot sweet coconut milk sauce that has tapioca in it, which you pour over it. This was also really good. 8/10
Overall, I really like this place; everything is really high quality and fresh. I’ve really grown to like Vietnamese desserts quite a bit. I want to come back and try every dish they have to figure out what the best ones are. I highly recommend this place.
9784 Westminster Ave
Garden Grove, CA 92844
Eileen’s Special Cheesecake is a family run bakery that sells mainly cheesecakes with a few other pastries. The place is a really small place that has 2 or 3 tables in it and there is a display case showcasing their cheesecakes.
I’ve been coming here for years, but some reason I never wrote it up. It’s a really great place and definitely my favorite cheesecake in the City. I’m not a cheesecake expert, but I really like cheesecake and I think this might be one of the best versions I’ve ever had. I’m not sure why you don’t hear about this place more often.
The cheesecake is so good. It’s not really dense like some cheesecakes and not overly sour or sweet like some cheesecakes. It’s actually very light for cheesecake and it’s always fresh as well. The strawberry topping is good as well, the jam / sauce isn’t overly gooey or sweet and the strawberries are pretty decent quality. The pictures below are the small and medium size; they also have a large size. 8.5/10
Same as the previous cheesecake I described except there is a raspberry sauce and whip cream on it. This version is excellent as well. 8.5/10
Overall, it’s a great place and I highly recommend going.
17 Cleveland Pl (between Kenmare St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
Chinatown is chock full of bakeries. Most of the bakeries fall into two categories they are either a) old school style cha chaan teng (茶餐廳, cha can ting, literally “tea restaurant”) that serve various old school Cantonese buns and pastries or b) more modern bakeries that have all types of pastries, buns and crazy cakes shaped into cartoon characters. For example, Mei Li Wah would fall under the cha chaan teng category and Fay Da / Tai Pan would fall under the latter category. Generally, the quality can vary from pretty decent to just okay. It is sort of hard to tell which ones will be good and which ones will just so so because they really all look very similar.
Ka Wah is a throwback and is closer to being in the cha chaan teng category. It is an old school Cantonese bakery that is in the eastern part of Chinatown jammed in the middle of a completely Fujian neighborhood. Based on that fact and the décor, I think this bakery must be very old. It’s run by 3 old Cantonese ladies, who are pretty old school themselves. Sometimes I have a hard time understanding their Mandarin because they have such a thick Cantonese accent.
Unlike most bakeries in Chinatown, this place only serves maybe 8-10 different types of pastries and maybe 4-5 different types of buns. All of it is Cantonese classics: dan ta (egg custard), dan gao (sponge cake), lao po bing (wife cake, a pastry filled with a sweet winter melon filling), almond cookies, ji wei bao (cocktail bun), bo luo bao (pineapple bun) and a few other things. They also serve good yin yang cha (yuan yang cha, coffee and tea mixed with evaporated milk and sugar), nai cha (tea with condensed milk) and coffee.
I come here on the weekends usually fairly early around 10:30am-11am when the pastries are fresh (they taste better in the morning when they are fresher).
Here are some of the things I get:
Sponge Cake (Dan Gao):
This place probably has the best sponge cake I’ve had in Chinatown. The cake is very light and airy with a great egg-y flavor and it’s soft as a pillow. I really like these and they are so light you can eat them like they were nothing and they go great with some yin yang cha. As a word of advice these in particular taste much better in the morning when they are fresh. 8.5/10
Wife Cake (Lao Po Bing):
They make a good version here. The crust is nice and flaky and the inside is flavorful and not overly sweet. However, this is an old school type of pastry and it’s very Chinese, so I’m not sure everyone will like this. My GF thinks that its “old people food” and she doesn’t like it at all. She also says I like “old people food” when it comes to desserts, so this is the type of thing I like, but I’m sure there will be a decent amount of people who do not. 7.75/10
Egg Custard (Dan Ta):
Hands down the best dan ta in Chinatown. The crust is flaky, crispy and buttery without being overly buttery. The custard is nice and egg-y and not overly sweet. They sell both the small versions and large version. I prefer the small version as I like the ratio of custard to crust better. These are great. 8/10
I always forget what this is called in Chinese. I’m not totally sure why I always end getting these because I don’t love them and it’s not the version here just in general. I guess it’s a nostalgia thing because I grew up eating stuff like this. Anyhow, the version here is good. 7/10
I forgot to take pictures, but these guys make some of the best yin yang cha (yuan yang cha, coffee and tea mixed with evaporated milk and sugar) and nai cha (tea with condensed milk) in Chinatown. I always get a cup of it when I come here. 7.75/10
Overall, this place is great and I highly recommend coming here before they decide to retire or something. It is also ridiculously cheap. Highly recommend.
9 Eldridge Street
New York, NY 10002
Lord Stow’s is a bakery in Macau that is famous for their dan tat (egg custard tarts). At the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay, the coffee shop called EXpresso has Lord Stow dan tat. A friend of mine showed me this place last time I was in Hong Kong. The store itself is just a small upscale coffee shop with typical coffee shop fare, the real appeal is the Lord Stow dan tat. They are the Portguese version meaning that the tops are somewhat burnt and so they have a sort of carmelization on top. Egg custard tarts are probably one of the more famous and popular Chinese pastries. They have a buttery flaky crust and a very egg-y yellow custard that is sweet. The Lord Stow version is very good especially when they are hot. The crust is delicious and flaky and the custard is not too sweet and has a great flavor. 9/10
I definitely recommend trying these out if you are in Hong Kong.
Lobby, The Excelsior Hong Kong, 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
Phone: 2837 6777
Yee Shun Dairy Company is a chain of Chinese milk pudding places in Hong Kong. When I go to HK I used to get dou hua (a silky tofu with a sweet syrup poured over it) everyday, but once I found Yee Shun I switched to getting their milk pudding on a daily basis. The restaurants don’t have much décor to them and the services is quick and without any frills.
Double Milk Pudding:
The milk pudding is very light and has this great milky creamy flavor, I particularly like the pudding skin that is on the top of the pudding. It’s not too sweet, which I like because I don’t really like very sweet desserts. I can literally eat this multiple times per day because it’s so light and not very sweet. They have other flavors, which I’ve tried, but the double milk is definitely my favorite one. 9/10
Definitely recommend trying this place out.
G/F., 506 Lockhard Road, Causeway Bay
銅鑼灣駱克道 506 號地下
Phone: 2591 1837