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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. re: nosh

        Phoenix Bakery

      2. 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

                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...

                --Dommy!

                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 Duey...you 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. Wow...talk 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...

                  Cheers!

                  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....

                    2. I went to Family Pastry on Thursday while in downtown around 2:45ish to try the shu mai as well as the egg custard. Having never had either before, I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't pleased with the shu mai's taste. It was ok, but nothing special. Again, I don't know what shu mai is supposed to taste like, so if all shu mai taste likes that, then I'm not much of a shu mai fan. The egg custard was lukewarm and fairy tasty, but not something I would go out of my way for.

                      BTW, the poultry store next door smelled absolutley horrific.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: young_chower

                        young chower: You're better off trying shu-mai at a real dim sum place instead. Try Empress Pavillion or CBS Seafood. I like shu-mai!

                        1. re: young_chower

                          Your adventurous!!!

                          Shu mai is basically a pork meatball with a noodle skin. Probably just ground pork, chopped water chestnut, soy sauce and black mushroom. Some places will top it with a small shrimp. 3 or 4 of those or a steamed chicken bun and that's a quick breakfast for me.

                          Maybe you'd like har gow better which is shrimp wrapped in a rice flour skin.

                          Egg custard tart is just that- egg custard in a tart shell made from lard. Served room temperature. If you bring it home and don't eat it right away I'd put it in the fridge.

                          Poultry store smells like that because they sell freshly killed chickens there. Big difference in taste between a dish made with freshly killed chicken and your run of the mill Zackey.

                        2. I went to Phoenix Bakery for the first time and took home one of their Strawberry Whipped Cream cakes. The cake part was really dry. I'm wondering if others have had this problem when they pick up their cakes in the evening (I went around 6:30pm), since the cake has been sitting there all day.? I can imagine it being really good if it were more moist. So just beware that there is the potential for a really dry cake if you go at the end of the day.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mwalton

                            Aside from the dryness, is the cake really that good? For some reason, I did not get the greatest vibe from that place...

                          2. I have always had good experiences with Phoenix Bakery. The Strawberry Whipped Cream Cake is fresh and not overly sweet -- much better than any like cake I've tasted in LA and not overpriced!

                            http://www.phoenixbakeryinc.com/

                            1. IMHO Phoenix is famous but doesn't deliver the goods any more. Sad. Cake is not great and stingy with the strawberries.

                              Wonder Bakery is very good with lots of things. For a party with Chinese food, I ask them in advance to make little egg custards (2 or 3 bites). They make them fresh for me and have them ready for me to pick up and I can serve them while they are still warm which is the BEST way to serve them! YUM!