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Egg Custard Tarts - the hunt is on!

gordon wing Nov 13, 2007 06:30 PM

Hopefully, Golden Gate Bakery will be able to return to their own level of excellence someday but until then let's move on and find the best egg custard tarts out there. I'll be in the city on Thursday and will begin the search ..... anyone have any contenders that I can try?

  1. l
    lmarie Nov 13, 2007 06:53 PM

    My Chinese in-laws love the don tots at Sunset Bakery on 9th near Judah.

    1. Sarah Nov 13, 2007 06:55 PM

      Ton Kiang, but it's eat-in... but I'm sure you can take out.

      1. K K Nov 13, 2007 07:18 PM

        Sounds like we might need the dilly on two versions, the dim sum restaurant vs the bakery.

        Dim sum places tend to do smaller more flavorful compact versions, another whole world out there.

        5 Replies
        1. re: K K
          pane Nov 13, 2007 07:21 PM

          Not Asian, but the ones at John Campbell's Irish Bakery are exceptional. After GG Bakery, they are my favorites.

          John Campbell's Irish Bakery
          5625 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

          1. re: pane
            Xiao Yang Nov 13, 2007 09:27 PM

            Are they the Portuguese style, an indigenous Irish style or another style altogether? (The Irish 1/4 of me only knows corned beef and cabbage.)

            1. re: Xiao Yang
              pane Nov 14, 2007 06:45 AM

              Not sure of the style or heritage, but they look just like the ones at GGB--flaky crust, rich eggy center, about the same size. Provenance unknown, but they are 100% delicious.

            2. re: pane
              Xiao Yang Nov 15, 2007 06:38 PM

              Driven by curiosity, I finally made it out the John Campbell's to try them. To me,they seemed like neither Cantonese dan tat or Portuguese pasteis. They were whiter and creamier than dat tats, but not as dense at the Portuguese version, which they resembled because they were browned on top. The crust seemed like c0nventional pie crust.

              As a side note, I picked up a small loaf of Barm Brack (Irish fruit cake) which my friend who's married to an English bloke said was just like something she had in England, and a sausage roll and a couple of pasties I haven't gotten to yet; I'll report in another thread.

              1. re: Xiao Yang
                maoliu Nov 18, 2007 04:47 PM

                Even though the John Campbell's egg custard tart is not here and there, the custard is very smooth and tasty after reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds. The crust is a big disappointment.

                I always like to goto New Dragon Phoenix, when I want more than a couple custard tarts. My family like that it is not as sweet. It is on clement and 19th. right across from the Blue Fin Sushi. A lot of elderies like playing chess in the shop.

          2. p
            Praziquantel Nov 14, 2007 11:36 AM

            Napoleon Super Bakery -- yummmmmmmmmmy dan tat!! There's one on Franklin in Oakland, and another on Stockton in SF/. Enjoy!

            1. n
              Nancy Berry Nov 14, 2007 12:19 PM

              I like the ones at Red House Bakery on San Bruno Ave. in SF very much.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Nancy Berry
                Nancy Berry Nov 14, 2007 12:20 PM


                Red House Bakery
                2818 San Bruno Ave, San Francisco, CA

              2. a
                alis Nov 14, 2007 04:20 PM

                Sogo Bakery in Cupertino/San Jose makes really good Portuguese style tarts that remind me of the Pastéis de Belém I had in Lisbon. Yum. They are really good - eggy, flakey, a little carmelized on the top. They are amazing when still warm.

                I like the Cupertino location the best, the tarts usually come out of the oven around 10am

                Sogo Bakery
                10889 S Blaney Ave, Cupertino, CA

                1 Reply
                1. re: alis
                  captainzen Nov 14, 2007 09:05 PM

                  I couldn't agree more about the amazingness of Sogo Bakery's Portuguese egg tarts. I get mine from the Burlingame location. Now I think I'm gonna have to go get some tomorrow.

                  Sogo Bakery
                  1849 El, Camino Real Burlingame, CA

                2. choctastic Nov 16, 2007 08:08 AM

                  The one thing about the GG custard tarts was the crust. Ultra flaky. I haven't seen anyone else doing it that well. i personally didn't like the filling as much, since i like the richer dim sum dan tat type filling better but that's just me.

                  i've been going to napoleon super bakery in oakland since they're cheap, close by, and reasonably good. the one on stockton in sf wasn't nearly as good, at least when I went.

                  1. asianstamp Nov 16, 2007 08:50 AM

                    Wali Bakery's (on Stockton) version isn't bad.

                    Good Luck Dim Sum on Clement is good too.

                    1. g
                      gordon wing Nov 16, 2007 09:03 AM

                      yesterday's excursion started well at Red House Bakery: pulled right into an empty parking space in front and hit a slow time with no line/ other customers. the counter person was very helpful and pleasant ..... got a couple of egg custard tarts and a baked pork bun. the tarts were 55 cents @ a good buy ... faintly sweet filling with a somewhat flaky crust but not really approaching the standard established by GGBakery. (of course it's almost half the price) Would buy these again but I'm still hoping to find one with an even flakier crust. Sunset Bakery's tart was 60 cents - filling was fine, maybe a bit firmer than ideal but still good. The crust was not flaky - not sure I'd return for these. The final stop was at John Campbell Irish Bakery. It was a different looking version - lots of carmelization on top and a much paler filling. Not bad but just different. The crust was rich but not flaky and they're stored chilled so not so good for eating out of hand like the warm ones at GGB. The search continues.....

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: gordon wing
                        Atomica Nov 19, 2007 06:09 AM

                        We tried Red House Bakery this weekend and really have to kick ourselves for not seeking it out sooner (after living in Bernal for 3 years). It's a very friendly place and I want to try most of their menu. The egg tarts were good, but the filling is a little too gelatin-like to my taste. A post in another thread says that Red House claims there are only eggs and cream in the filling (sugar too, I think it says), but there's definitely gelatin. The crust was very flaky and good.

                        Loved the BBQ pork bun, which had ample filling (some reported past problems with not enough) that tasted great. None of the 5-spice flavor I absolutely dread. Others have mentioned a "chicken pie" in their posts, but I didn't see such a thing on the menu, and from the descriptions I'm assuming this is different from chicken bun. Anyone who can help delineate the chicken bun from the chicken pie, please advise. Tried the green onion bun, which also had tiny pieces of ham scattered throughout and was warm and absolutely delicious.

                        1. re: Atomica
                          yimster Nov 19, 2007 02:42 PM

                          We did ask if the baker used a gelatin, but it was asked about the custard pie. I did not asked about the egg tarts. I did have the pie and the one I had that day did not taste like it had gelatin.

                          As for the chicken pie it not on the menu but in the showcase, just ask for a gai pie or baked chicken pie. The pie has the sane filling as the bun. It looks like a 3" mini pie with fork tracks on the top.

                          You are making me think about drive over expect it is too late in the day and a lot of the items are gone. Maybe first thing tomorrow mroning.

                      2. g
                        gordon wing Nov 18, 2007 01:14 AM

                        Today I stopped in Oakland's Chinatown and revisited two standbyes: Ruby King Bakery and Super Napolean. Super Napolean's egg custard tart is served warm (maybe too warm? had to wait a bit because it was a bit too warm to enjoy comfortably) .... the crust is very flaky and baked pretty dark. However, both of us detected a faint aftertaste from the pastry that stood out in a not so good way. Not horrible but
                        noticeable nevertheless. The filling was nicely cooked ..... Not bad overall but not as good as Ruby King. Theirs' is not served warm but the crust is very flaky and the taste is very clean! The room temperature filling is faintly sweet and correctly cooked. They have a buy 3 get one for free deal right now.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: gordon wing
                          choctastic Nov 18, 2007 07:23 AM

                          really depends on the day. super napoleon's is not always served all that warm, you must have gotten a fresh batch. the crust is not always dark either. ruby king's can be pretty crusty and dark but not always. i usually go for napoleon's since they're bigger and also i think the crust is a bit flakier but that's just me. ruby king always has that deal I think. i like both places.

                          1. re: choctastic
                            gordon wing Nov 18, 2007 08:41 AM

                            Both Ruby King & Super Napolean had very flaky crusts .... and if I had to say one way or another - SN - probably is flakier. Being served warm definitely helps in that regard. I think there tarts are $1.05@ and Ruby King is at 85 cents? And at RK if you buy 3 - you get 4 .... so they are the best value. I have to go with Ruby King because I thought that there crust had a cleaner tasting finish.

                            1. re: gordon wing
                              choctastic Nov 18, 2007 09:33 AM

                              wow prices must have risen a lot in the last month. I was there about a month or two ago and super napoleon's egg custard tarts were 55 cents each and ruby king's were 50 cents.

                              1. re: choctastic
                                Ruth Lafler Nov 18, 2007 10:29 AM

                                I like Ruby King myself -- their pork buns are excellent, too. Although, if anyone knows where I can get a good "pineapple" bun (the baked buns with the crusty top and custard filling -- no pineapple), in Oakland I'd love to know about it.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                  Melanie Wong Nov 19, 2007 03:18 PM

                                  A pineapple bun has the crusty top but no filling. Baked custard buns have the same crusty top with custard filling. Yimster turned me on to Napoleon Super Bakery's. I bought some custard buns from the new location on Clement yesterday. They come in two sizes. The small ones are such a deal: 5 for $1.20.

                                  Napoleon Super Bakery
                                  844 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                    Ruth Lafler Nov 19, 2007 03:41 PM

                                    Hummmm ... someone steered me wrong on that one. I'll try Napolean Super Bakery.

                                    Okay, I was told "pineapple custard bun": http://www.chowhound.com/topics/30105

                                    I see here I said I saw them at Ruby King, but I'm pretty sure when I've asked they haven't had them.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                      dreamsicle Nov 21, 2007 10:46 AM

                                      Hi Ruth, I was at the Oakland Napoleon Super Bakery yesterday and they had both the custard buns and the pineapple custard buns. The former are in the shape of a turnover (or a semi-circle) with a squirt of custard on top, while the latter look like the usual pineapple buns. Both are 70 cents each. Hopefully you can see the buns in the photos. The custard buns in the first photo are on the third tray in the bottom shelf.

                                      Besides the pineapple custard buns, they also have pineapple red bean buns (70 cents each) and pineapple taro buns (80 cents each).

                                      And yes, the egg tarts there are 60 cents each. I got one for a friend and so don't know how the taste was, but the custard filling seemed fairly smooth and silky and the crust was flaky. The egg tart was also pretty warm when I got it.

                                      1. re: dreamsicle
                                        Ruth Lafler Nov 21, 2007 04:39 PM

                                        Thanks, dreamsicle!

                                        Ruby King Bakery Cafe
                                        718 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607

                                        Napoleon Super Bakery
                                        810 Franklin St, Oakland, CA

                                2. re: choctastic
                                  gordon wing Nov 18, 2007 10:58 AM

                                  I was in a rush but I'm pretty sure that at NSB - I was charged $2.10 for my two egg custard tarts. And at Ruby King I paid $2.85 for the 3 + 1 free custard tarts and one coconut tart (55 cents @).

                                  1. re: choctastic
                                    gordon wing Nov 20, 2007 01:34 PM

                                    I just rechecked these prices - I don't know what happened but I was way off on the prices. The super napolean egg custards are 60cents@ and the ones at Ruby King are 50cents@ with the special still in effect: buy 3 and get an additional one for free. I bought 8 of them today for $3.00 total.
                                    The crusts were exceptionally flaky - literally twice the number of layers as the ones at SNB. And today's tarts at SNB were not warm at all. At Ruby King they are almost always coming from a baking rack that resides in back of the counter.... they were slightly warm today at 12:30 Noonish. So, SNB seems to have some substantial variations - crust wise.(lots of layers and then not so many) Last time they were very hot that was about 4pm on a Saturday.

                                    1. re: gordon wing
                                      Xiao Yang Nov 20, 2007 06:44 PM

                                      Given that GG Bakery's are $1.10 each with NO volume discount, I'd say the quest for a reasonable alternative is a worthy one, and should go on even if GGB has returned to top form. Munch on, Gordon!

                                      1. re: Xiao Yang
                                        gordon wing Nov 20, 2007 10:24 PM

                                        Well, tonight for my Mom's birthday we had egg custard tarts instead of cake. We had some from Golden Gate Bakery and some from Ruby King. Golden Gate Bakery is back! ( as Chowfun has reported ) We tried both of them at room temp - and GGB definitely had the flakier crust - looking at them, they definitely take it further in the baking process: the crust is relatively dark. Even the bottom of the tart is pretty flaky. As compared to the Ruby King tart that was a bit gummy on the bottom. The custard filling of the GGB was a bit quivery ( is that a word? ) and a touch sweet. All in all - very good, and probably worth the $1.10 they charge for it. Ruby King's couldn't go crust to crust with GGB but they definitely are the value champion. They are 50 cents each and 1 free when you buy three..... that's 4 for $1.50. I bought eight of them for a total of $3.00 .....that's 37.5 cents each. So with a better than average crust and a decent filling - Ruby King is definitely worth a try.

                              2. re: gordon wing
                                mochimunchie Nov 20, 2007 02:02 PM

                                Got some of SN's tarts today at about 11:20am - not hot or even warm. Tasty nonetheless. The custard is very light and soft which I really liked. Only 0.60 each.

                                Next Tuesday I will try to go to Ruby King.

                              3. Pincho Nov 18, 2007 08:25 AM

                                This report says GGB has re-opened "after all":

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Pincho
                                  Xiao Yang Nov 18, 2007 09:10 AM

                                  Re-opened, but no reports yet on the egg tarts. The story was that their baker died and took his secrets to the grave with him. And Gordon did say "return to their own level of excellence" some day.

                                2. ChowFun_derek Nov 18, 2007 01:24 PM

                                  I just returned from Golden Gate...and I am relieved to say...nothing seems to have changed!!!

                                  The same people (they liked my new beard and thought I had lost a little weight....."well yes"!!! said I, "that's what comes from 'Dahn Taht' withdrawal"!)

                                  So, I ordered up 10 (they had just run out of macaroons!)

                                  The egg custard was light and perfect, without corn starch or gelatin fillers...the pastry a thousand flakey layers>>>in short... the same...!

                                  13 Replies
                                  1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                    Xiao Yang Nov 18, 2007 01:27 PM

                                    If anyone's judgement is to be trusted, I guess it's yours!

                                    1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                      gordon wing Nov 18, 2007 09:08 PM

                                      ChowFun, thanks for checking out the situation at GGBakery. I'll be back there soon.

                                      1. re: gordon wing
                                        ChowFun_derek Nov 19, 2007 06:51 AM

                                        God help me!!! I finished all 10 myself!! I'm such an extremist...but I had to test them at hourly intervals after the initial 'hot' beginning...I had to see whether they reacted as other Golden Gate tarts did in the ensuing hours after purchase.....they did! ...and I do love hearing Spanish music as the background for the Cantonese in the foreground...so San Francisco!

                                        1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                          gordon wing Nov 19, 2007 08:46 AM

                                          All 10! You are an extremist! I was feeling pretty satisfied after my third and fourth during my Oakland excursion. The lard in the crusts really makes them pretty rich. As the oil stained bags will attest to......
                                          So, based on your hourly tastings - is there a drop off worth noting at some point? Like eat within two hours or reheat ?

                                          1. re: gordon wing
                                            yimster Nov 19, 2007 02:45 PM

                                            Gordon, I swear this to be true. Once we got fresh hot out of the oven custard tarts, too hot for me to eat. I had to stand there blowing on the tart to cool it off before I could bite into one. To my shock Chowfun had finished two and was starting on a third as I took my first bite.

                                            1. re: gordon wing
                                              dordogne Nov 19, 2007 02:51 PM

                                              As a custard tart connoisseur with big eyes and a small appetite, I often end up reheating the extras in a convection oven at 350 for a few minutes. Although the custard texture may not be quite as tender, the crust revives wonderfully--better than any but those just-emerged from the GGB oven.

                                              1. re: dordogne
                                                gordon wing Nov 19, 2007 06:36 PM

                                                I'm with you on the oven reheating - please don't succumb to the "convenience" of the microwave oven.

                                                1. re: dordogne
                                                  ChowFun_derek Nov 19, 2007 10:10 PM

                                                  yes..they do revive amazingly well...

                                              2. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                theSauce Nov 20, 2007 12:55 PM

                                                Should we call an ambulance for you? My God! 10 in one day?!

                                                1. re: theSauce
                                                  ChowFun_derek Nov 20, 2007 02:14 PM

                                                  Get Yimster to tell you when I ate a whole duck!

                                                  Moderation is not one of my strong suits I guess...

                                                  1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                                    gordon wing Nov 20, 2007 03:18 PM

                                                    a whole duck ... ah, the legend grows!

                                                    1. re: gordon wing
                                                      yimster Nov 20, 2007 03:48 PM

                                                      Yes, it is sure. I arrangeed for a Chinese deli to make a special duck like my Mother made us from our part of China. The head chef was from the same area and could make this dish. It now normally for sale but when the chef has time and he know you then he is willing to do it for those who are "homey" of his.

                                                      My sons and I had it for dinner with a little left over. But I was told by Chowfun he had a little less that half after having lunch in Chinatown with me as a snack. As you all know I order a good size lunches. Chowfun was so impressed with the taste of the duck he finished it for dinner. This a full size duck. WOW I am now Jones for this duck now.

                                                      In the years I have know Chowfun you take your life in your hands if you still between him and food.

                                                  2. re: theSauce
                                                    theSauce Nov 21, 2007 03:51 PM

                                                    All this talk about dan-tats I had a honker for some egg custard (dan-tats). I was in Oakland Chinatown and happens to found parking right in front of Wonder Foods. I went in the dan-tats were just brought out. I ordered 8 of them and at $.40 each it's a super bargain. Now by all means, I'm not a connoisseur of sort but to me the crust was super flaky and the filling was not too sweet which I love. I don't know how it compares with GG because I've yet to try one. At $.40 you can't beat it with a bat.

                                            2. yimster Nov 21, 2007 06:45 PM

                                              Today I went to the City for some shopping before tomorrow's dinner. Need some ingredients for the one dish I have to make.

                                              Stop by Napolean on Stockton Street to pick up some bread for breakfast tomorrow. Saw some hot out out the oven egg tarts. Quickly looked behind me to make sure Chowfun was not behind me so that I would not run over. Cost for one was still 60 cents and here is my finds.

                                              Custard was light and eggy and the pastry was flaker than I remember. A good value. But I know tha tomorrow I may have the GG tarts if my cousin can get them tomorrow.

                                              I guess I will need to get some from Red House to compare. But I am not fan of sweets and I am no Chowfun.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: yimster
                                                Agent 510 Nov 23, 2007 10:34 AM

                                                My favorite has to be the Portuguese tart at Sheng Kee bakery (multiple Bay Area locations)...the filling is really sweet, which may not be up everyone's alley.

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