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Nov 6, 2006 09:40 PM

Searching for best CHINATOWN bakeries for pastries, etc.


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  1. What kind of pastries? Some of them have a take of American and French pastries whereas some of them are Chinese.

    1. I don't know it's name, but there is one on the west side of Broadway on the northern end of Chinatown (sort of across from the Chinese Friends restaurant) that does those light whipped cream strawberry angel food cakes. A favorite for downtown office parties. I've also enjoyed their eclairs and cream puffs.

      1 Reply
      1. I'm missing those bakeries in NYC's Chinatown that specialized in Chinese pastries. You know, $1 for a nice egg custard or curry beef turnover. They also have that puffy, airy brioche. Bread twists with ham & scallion. Rolls with all different kinds of filling -- sometimes meat, sometimes a light coconut paste.

        Usually the coffee is really good at these places too.

        I'll check out Phoenix...

        6 Replies
        1. re: Liquid Sky

          There are tons of bakeries like the New York Chinatown places you describe in the San Gabriel Valley. For some reason that style hasn't hit Chinatown, though. Not sure whether it's because Chinatown has more older residents or what.

          1. re: Chelmoon

            Sorry, but I think Liquid Sky is talking about the old style Chinese coffee shops that basically had dim sum items along with sweet rolls and pastries and coffee. I grew up with those in NYC Chinatown and frequent them in San Francisco. They started in LA Chinatown when Chinatown started and a few still exist, but not the kind of places a Chowhound would venture into. Family Pastry is typical of that genre.

            The style you're talking about is the Hong Kong style bakeries like the Kee Wah chain.

            1. re: Chelmoon

              Chinatown used to be mostly Cantonese. Over the past two to three decades, people from Viet Nam and Cambodia - many of them who are ethnic Chinese - have replaced the old guard. San Gabriel Valley on the other hand is very diverse.

            2. re: Liquid Sky

              Phoenix is a bakery with cakes (famous for their strawberry cream cake)and American style pastries. Queens Bakery down the street on Broadway is another.

              What you want is a dim sum place. Good take out place for dim sum things you're looking for in Chinatown is Family Pastry. Think their egg custard tart(don tot) is like 60 cents.

              Open 7 days a week from 7am-5:30pm. Must have good coffee there...I see all these Chinese men having their coffee and sweet buns there every morning.

              About a block away from Phillipes French Dip and across the street from CBS Seafood.

              Family Pastry
              715 N Spring St
              Los Angeles, CA 90012
              (213) 680-4584

              1. re: monku


                Family Pastry is probably what I'm looking for. A million thanks!

                1. re: Liquid Sky

                  A take out place with a half dozen or so tables and old guys drinking coffee. The old NYC style kind of place where you can write your order up on a paper menu or just order from the lady and point.
                  I think they got the best shu mai in town, made with chopped up pork, not ground pork, so there's some texture to it. I think they have the best baked charsu bao-lots of filling. Also good steamed chicken bao-meal in itself.
                  I go there at least once a week and run in and out for a quick snack. Chinese pastries are pretty good. Right across the street at CBS Seafood the take out there also has dim sum and steam table items.

            3. yeah! where can i get a big dough ball w/ sweet bean paste in it and sesame seeds all over it?

              6 Replies
              1. re: scuzm

                Most Chinese Bakeries have them... Most of the big chinse markets have their own bakeries inside them like 99 ranch and such (That is why you don't see as many stand alones as in NY and SF, we do it all in our markets). My favorite bakery is JJ, but it's a little upscale. I also love Diamond Bakery in Rowland Heights, it's outside of a 99 ranch, not in it...


                1. re: Dommy

                  Thanks...I was hoping not to have to travel all the way to SGV, RH, etc.

                  In NYC's Chinatown, the bakeries had a lot of older Chinese customers in addition to young people, tourists, etc. It was the only place left in Manhattan where you can get a FANTASTIC COFFEE for 50 cents. Sniff! I'm getting a little nostalgic now...

                  1. re: Liquid Sky

                    Yeah, and those places in NYC Chinatown back then had vacuum brewed coffee.

                2. re: scuzm

                  Called Jin can get it at any dim sum take out place. See "Family Pastry" in the above post.

                  1. re: monku

                    thanks! b/c i've been to phoenix to get some, and they did not have any. only cakes.

                    1. re: scuzm

                      Like I said-Phoenix is basically an Amreican bakery and if you went around the corner in the alley(10 steps away) a place called Hong Kong Low would have had jin duey-that's a dim sum take out place.

                3. I just wanted to report back here for all the Hounds who helped me look for a C-town bakery. Having just moved from NYC, I was eager to compare LA's Chinatown to the one back home. about different! The NYC Chinatown is crowded, noisy, full of life...the one here in LA is cleaner, but looked like an abandoned movie set!! Just a few scattered clusters of people. Hard to compare the two, right?

                  I went to check out Phoenix Bakery on N Bway from Monku's recommendations. Kind of a strange place. It definitely had a very mixed clientele, so their cakes must be pretty well known. Unfortunately they did not have much in the way of selection -- only had the strawberry cream cake in stock, and that did not really interest me. For some reason, they also sold 25-cent blow-pops (lollipops), which were displayed prominently in their window... WEIRD! I decided to do some further exploration...

                  Luckily not far down the street, I came across WONDER BAKERY on 943 North Broadway, located right on Central Square. Central Square is this meeting area where a lot of older Chinese guys sit, chat and watch the world go by. This bakery was a little closer to what I was looking for. The clientele was 96% Chinese. They had a nice seating area. And their selection of pastries was vast! I recognized right away the light, airy brioche I had in NYC...they call it sponge cake. They had about 10 different coffees. The place was sunny, welcoming and quite busy.

                  I made off with:

                  --one COFFEE ROLL (a light, airy cake that could feed several people -- in the shape of a log, filled with mocha cream)
                  --one curry beef turnover with the flaky crust
                  --one pork turnover with the flaky crust
                  --one cheese croissant, a cross between a cheese danish and croissant
                  --two of the brioche sponges (for my husband, who is addicted to them!) AND
                  --a cup of regular joe

                  All of this come out to just over $10. I LOVE CHINATOWN!

                  My favorite was the curry beef turnover. The crust was terrific...very delicate and flaky. The filling with just enough kick. My husband said the brioche-sponges were even better than the ones in NYC he's had...larger, and more rich in taste.

                  The coffee was probably the only thing that I thought did not live up to NYC C-town standards. Oh, and the pork turnover was just okay. I haven't tried the coffee roll yet since I'm bringing that to a party. All in all, a great discovery. I would definitely return to this place. Can't wait to return here for dim-sum at EMPRESS PAVILION...


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Liquid Sky

                    Glad to hear you had a good experience and Wonder Bakery fulfilled your some of your NYC Chinatown memories. There are still some hidden gems in LA Chinatown.

                    The strawberry cream cake at Phoenix is an LA Chinatown legend, they frost the cake with plain whipped cream, not that overly sweet buttercream American bakeries use.

                    Don't forget Family Pastry on one of your next visits.

                    You're right that area is like a movie set...Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis was filmed in front of that closed restaurant in the courtyard Hong Kong Low.

                    1. re: Liquid Sky

                      I love the Chinese donuts at Wonder....