Monday, July 2, 2007
Chinatown bakery tour
Yesterday I lead a tour of some Boston Chinatown bakeries. Sadly, the bakeries in Boston just don't measure up to the carbohydrate cornucopia found in L.A., but they still offer plenty for those seeking a fix of fluffy cake and bean paste. Having tried almost all of the bakeries in Chinatown, my favorites are Bao Bao and Crown Royal. Although the confections at Bao Bao are quite a bit more expensive than other bakeries, I've found them to be the tastiest and most attractive. Crown Royal is in a little alley on the edge of Chinatown adjoining the fence for the new Big Dig park, and it has really fresh breads and cakes. Unfortunately, I didn't snap a picture of the beautiful purple taro cake I got from Bao Bao, but it was as soft and delicious as it was pretty. I also enjoy the jelly desserts from May's Cake House, and the lady there is by far the nicest bakery proprietor I've met.
Here are some treats I've sampled in Chinatown over the years:
From top left: Boston cream cake from Finale, strawberry cake from Maxim, Boston cream cake from Maxim, and green tea and taro pastry puffs from Bao Bao. The puff pastries are some of my favorite treats in Chinatown. The Chinese Boston cream pie was much better than the one from Finale.
Coffee roll, fruit cake, and coconut bread from Crown Royal. The cakes were fresh and fluffy although their flavor was ordinary, but the bread was buttery and delicious.
Green tea and black sesame cakes from Bao Bao. Unfortunately they taste like plain cakes and not much like tea or sesame.
Wife cake (lao po bing) from Bao Bao, a traditional cantonese treat with a flaky pastry crust and a mochi-like filling of glutinous rice. I had some really delicious wife cake in Hong Kong, and these are almost as good.
Coconut jelly from May's cake house. Its texture is a mix between almond tofu and a konjac jelly, and it tastes of creamy, slightly sweetened coconut milk.
Water chestnut cake - another jelly treat from May's cake house. This one is less sticky and more like an agar jelly, lightly sweetened with crunchy pieces of water chestnut inside.