Taipan Bakery-Nice Buns,er, Bao
Some other items at the Taipan Bakery in Flushing that you might like to try the next time you are in Flushing are the egg custard tarts, the Curry Beef Pastry, and the Dried Shredded Pork Buns. The Curry Beef pastry (shaped like a triangle) is similar to Frangipane, except that the flaky crust is filled with curry beef rather than almond paste. Quite a few of the Flushing Chinese bakeries sell the Curry Beef pastry, but we find that the Taipan Curry Beef pastries have the flakiest crust. The Dried Shredded Pork Buns are just buns covered with very tiny threads of dried pork that has been deep fried. The dried pork buns are not very good for your heart, but quite tasty. The egg custard tarts and the Curry Beef pastry are in the window cases at Taipan and one must ask the counter servers to order those items.
Several store fronts north of Taipan in the lobby of the Hong Kong Supermarket is a branch of the Fa Da bakery (there is also a newly opened branch of the Fa Da bakery around the corner two blocks away on 38th Ave, corner of 138th Street, across the street from the large municipal parking lot that may have more variety, since this branch is much larger) that has Coconut Buns that Taipan does not sell and that few other Flushing bakeries sell. The Coconut Bun looks like a miniature loaf of bread with twirls on top. Last week when we were at the new Fa Da branch store across the street from the parking lot, we noticed they were selling a bun filled with sweet potato, that we have yet to try, but sounds interesting. The egg custard tarts at Fa Da are reasonably good also.
There are quite a number of Chinese bakeries in Flushing selling numerous bakery items and one must just try out them out to see which items one might like. As mentioned in your original post, Chinese bakeries carry items that are quite different from non-Asian bakeries such as the “corn and ham slathered with mayo” buns. Besides sweet flavored items, Chinese bakeries also carry a number of salt flavored and meat filled items.
All of the Chinese bakeries in Flushing are of the new wave bakeries that carry many items similar to western bakeries such as the sweet desert like cakes and pastries in the refrigerated cases and items like cheese Danish. These new wave Chinese bakeries have not always imitated the best in western bakery goods. An example would be Chinese buns wrapped around Hot Dogs. For non-Asians, we would not recommend the bun encased hot dogs. All of the hot dogs used in these buns are of the skinless variety with no snap when one bites into them nor do the hot dogs have much taste. However, young Asian children consider them new and different from typical Chinese pastries and enjoy the buns with hot dogs very very much.
The older generation Chinese bakeries in the Manhattan Chinatown usually do not carry western style sweet cakes and pastries, but mainly the traditional Chinese meat and salt flavored pastries and sweet favored items that do not require refrigeration. But these old line bakeries are beginning to die out as the original owners close the older style bakeries without anyone in the family to carry on the family trade. The children of the owners usually prefer to take up professional lines of work pushing paper and pressing computer keyboards rather than pushing or pressing flour dough around.
In the long narrow shop next to KFC on Main and what was formerly known as 'Mayflower" after the BBQ and bakery stuff when you first walk in and continuing on that left side, there is a station that offers small containers of dim sum such as ha gow and siu mai etc. They often have a baked empanada/calzone-type of bread stuffed with watercress and rice noodles and a hint of fish sauce. It's awesome. Not sure of the name though...
As for the hot dogs not having snap, I laughed out loud when I read this. My chowpup who loves any type of sausage/wurst/dog, very indiscreetly spit a hunk out onto his tray the first time he sampled one! It tasted like
"bad rubber" was all he said. As opposed to the "good rubber" he's been raised on...
Glad you enjoyed and got a chuckle from our little riff on Chinese-American hot dogs.
The anecdote about your Chowpup and the Chinese-American hot dog dovetails very nicely with our little riff on the American-Chinese hot dogs, which shows that experience and the learned response has a lot of bearing upon one’s food tastes and the attitudes that we all acquire in growing up.
Most Chinese families still maintain large aspects of a Chinese kitchen, especially immigrant families where non-Chinese foods are strictly verboten, and when young Asian children do not get exposure to “good rubber,” this is probably why they enjoy the Chinese-American “bad rubber” hot dogs, since the hot dogs are a novelty to them and they do not know any better. But once the young Asian children start school and begin indoctrination with American culture, have more exposure to non-Asian friends in school, and of course the all prevalent and unavoidable media (television and movies), that is when American foods (the good and the bad, but hopefully the better foods) start to creep more into the kitchens of Chinese families, especially for the immigrant families.
It always comes down to family upbringing and education, formal and informal, good or bad.
For Flushing BBQ joints, here is a link to a very lively and combative recent Chowhound thread we were involved with on Flushing BBQ places and Chinese BBQ in general: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/459048#3112280 . Although the thread is primarily about takeout Chinese BBQ, most of the places we had listed are also restaurants that sell the BBQ as eat-in items. Usually, the BBQ items are sold with soup noodles and over rice plate dishes or just the BBQ item alone. Since Chinese BBQ has some equivalence to American fast food, most of the larger and nicer Chinatown restaurants would not have BBQ items on the menu during dinner hours and many may not even have BBQ on the menu at all.
Our knowledge of northern Chinese “Bings,” is quite limited, but if you are interested in “Bings,” the many food stalls in the Golden Mall (http://www.chow.com/places/2469) may sell them and we have tried several Nu Ru Bings (beef bings) in one of the stalls (we unfortunately do not remember which food stall) there that were not too bad, and there use to be a “bing” lady that sold them a number of years ago on the northwest corner of 40th Road and Main Street, and may have relocated to a store front somewhere on 40th Road between Prince and Main. There were also a number of northern food stalls in the J&L Mall on Main Street, that sold “Bings,” but unfortunately the J&L Mall recently closed down, but one of the food stalls has resurfaced at 40-41 Main Street and sells many of the items that they sold previously at the J&L Mall, including “bings.” We usually enjoy their Fried Red Bean that is some kind of sweet rice with a red bean filling that is deep fried. There is usually enough turnover that the Red Bean Puffs are usually out of the fryer only a short time before they are sold.
As for other Chinese bakeries, the Taipan and Fa Da bakeries mentioned are among the better bakeries, and the best advice is to just try the Flushing Chinese bakeries (there must be 15 to 20 bakeries within the Flushing vicinity) and sample one or two items each time you happen to be in the Flushing Chinatown, since each bakery has good and bad bakery items, and the cost is not prohibitive at less than $1 per item. Items that we like, you may not like, as everyone has their own tastes and likes. Our experience in food trip adventures to NYC immigrant foreign enclaves is that although performing research is very necessary for efficiency, serendipity is sometimes still the best guide. When one discovers a food item by themselves that is good and tasty, there is much more enjoyment and gratification and it is much more objective also than if one is simply told that a particular place purportedly has a tasty item.
The popular author of many years ago, James A. Michener, in his many foreign travel adventures would simply go to the central train station of the country he was visiting and ask the train clerk to randomly sell him train tickets to various cities in the country, rather than research guide books and ask friends for advice. Of course, this serendipity method requires that one has large amounts of financial assets and most importantly, time, but from perusing a number of your posts, the financial aspects appear to be very well satisfied, and all one needs is time.