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Old Time Chinese Restaurant Sweet

EATTV May 30, 2010 12:01 PM

In many Chinese Restaurants of my youth in New England, it was typical that at the end of the meal along with check and fortune cookies came a delectable sesame coated jelly candy. These fresh fruit (perhaps agar) 1" cubes were coated in toasted sesame seeds and devoured by the six kids in my clan. So much for distant memories of the Hong Fong (up one flight) on Pleasant Street in Downtown Worcester. Since then those candies have disappeared from the table. For a decade or so I could find them at Ho Yuen Bakery in Boston. Now I can only get mass market sort of petrified versions. Does anyone know what happened to these regional courtesy treats? Can someone make the folks at Ho Yuen fess up?

  1. l
    lola22 Mar 14, 2013 05:29 AM

    Posharpstore.com in mass sells the pancake version of this candy.

    1. s
      Shankins123 Sep 21, 2012 06:37 AM

      What do you all think of this recipe? Would it gel and have the proper consistency?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shankins123
        ShadowSpirit Oct 31, 2012 10:58 PM

        I regret I have a small piece of news. Jin Mi, which was on Walnut Street in Newtonville closed in the spring of 2012. There are Asian markets on Moody street and near Main street in Waltham.
        A big loss.

      2. c
        catsmeow Sep 5, 2012 03:58 PM

        Thought I'd bump this up again. Has anyone stumbled across this candy yet?

        14 Replies
        1. re: catsmeow
          opinionatedchef Sep 5, 2012 10:32 PM

          cat, if you phone Sun Sun in Chinatown and speak with Wilson, he might be able to help. He is very knowledgeable about all things Chinese, inCLUding candies. Very nice guy.

          1. re: opinionatedchef
            catsmeow Sep 6, 2012 03:53 PM

            Thanks opinionated chef!

          2. re: catsmeow
            threedogs Sep 6, 2012 04:53 AM

            I had some of the flat (Vietnamese?) pancake shaped candies that were mentioned back in this thread. The ones I had were only sesame seeds (although there were peanut ones, too), and soft - close enough for my childhood memories! The problem is, I don't remember where I used to buy them - I go to as many Asian grocery stores as I can get to... would have been the Boston area, though, and it's worth checking out to see if they are still carried by any of the stores. Easy to figure out - they are obviously flexible (packaging was only plastic). Mmm - I'll do my part & take one for the team when I'm shopping in town.

            I used to live in Lynn, and shopped on Western Ave - I rode by recently & was saddened because it looks like the store I where I used to shop is gone now! But I only bought veggies - they had a terrific selection - that perfect bahn mi bread, and, of course, bahn mi (til they ran out) there, so I know it wasn't there where I bought the candy.

            Always sad to see a favorite small food business fold...

            1. re: threedogs
              EATTV Sep 16, 2012 12:29 PM

              A good food friend spotted something very close at Banh Mi Ba Le in Dorchester. Sesame gum? Still working on a recipe or a bakery that makes this Cantonese confection from scratch.

              1. re: EATTV
                marine101 Sep 16, 2012 02:06 PM

                The candy has been found! A dear High School friend of mine has been on the lookout for it since these blogs have started. The candy is exactly the same except for the shape.
                I have been trying to contact the importer, who is from Brooklyn, NY. They have not replied as of my 2nd email to them. My friend found the candy in an Asian store near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Will give more details as I gather more info.

                1. re: marine101
                  happybaker Sep 16, 2012 02:47 PM

                  Yay! Congrats! And good luck!

                  Keep the chow folks posted!

                  1. re: marine101
                    KWagle Sep 16, 2012 10:48 PM

                    Post a picture of the Chinese language label and then we can translate it correctly and Google for it.

                    1. re: KWagle
                      marine101 Sep 17, 2012 07:11 AM

                      The label is in Vietnamese, and I did do a translation. It was something akin to Happy New Year. The ingredients were in English, and the name of the Importer.

                      1. re: marine101
                        Shankins123 Sep 20, 2012 09:34 PM

                        I'm so glad to find this thread! I received some of this candy from my daughter last year for Christmas - she thought she had purchased a crunchy candy from our local Asian grocery. It turned out so much better than any crunchy candy I've ever had! The version I received was mostly sesame, with a couple of bits of peanut, and in a firm gelatin-type base. The store she purchased it from (Super Cao Nguyen in Oklahoma City) has not carried it since then...I'm hoping it returns for the holidays, but I'd really be interested in a recipe if anyone finds one. Thanks for the hope!

                        1. re: Shankins123
                          marine101 Sep 21, 2012 05:06 AM

                          I will keep posting any results. The importer still has not responded to my requests for additional information on the product. One would think that if an astute business person received inquiries about an item, a prompt reply would follow.
                          The store your daughter purchased the candy from was Vietnamese.

                          1. re: marine101
                            izzyizzo Jan 26, 2013 11:07 AM

                            marine101 - Post the info - since my young years eating this stuff at Bob Loo's in Salem NH, I've grown up to become an importer of all sorts of consumer goods. I'll put one of my guys on the case who literally speaks the language, and post back here.

                2. re: threedogs
                  antimony Jan 29, 2013 08:14 AM

                  The Vietnamese candy is called keo me xung in both pancake and square form, and it used to be easier to find downtown than it is now, but I usually still can. Plus, knowing the name of it means it's much easier to find importers. (It's my favorite quick-energy hiking snack.)

                  1. re: antimony
                    threedogs Jan 29, 2013 11:24 AM

                    The link that Shankins123 posted is for keo me xung. You are right - I used to have an easier time finding them. Recipe (there are lots others online, too) looks easy.

                    1. re: threedogs
                      Infomaniac Jan 29, 2013 06:10 PM

                      They sell, or were selling keo me xung during the holidays at Hong Cuc market in Lowell. I posted on the Northern New England board on a similar thread.

                      Got a not so good picture of it here.


              2. m
                mcswain27 Dec 11, 2010 01:00 PM

                I'm planning on trying to recreate this for my mom for Xmas. I'm going to take 1 cup malt sugar, and 1 cup water and boil it to the 'soft ball' stage of candymaking. (240 degrees). Then pour into a pan, let it cool, cut into cubes, then roll in toasted sesame seeds. It's the closest I could figure to what this stuff may have tasted like...

                2 Replies
                1. re: mcswain27
                  EATTV Dec 21, 2010 08:20 AM

                  Please let me know how this works out.

                  1. re: mcswain27
                    marine101 Sep 6, 2012 09:25 AM

                    No pectin or gelatine? How about brown rice syrup and honey??

                  2. CocoDan Jun 1, 2010 06:56 AM

                    We recently had a conversation about these candies, which I vividly remember, with one of the owners of Great Chow in Quincy. He told us that this candy was mostly made in house, and as a result, it became too time consuming, and was slowly phased out. $$$.
                    Too bad, I loved them and still crave them when we eat in certain Chinese restaurants. Not easy to find, if at all. If someone here finds them, notify this board at once!!! I'll be there.

                    Great Chow
                    17 Beale Street, Quincy, MA 02170

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: CocoDan
                      EATTV Jun 1, 2010 10:55 AM

                      多謝。Excellent hounding. I did find a commercial version at Jin Mi foods on Walnut in Newtonville. If you microwave them for a second and close your eyes it is reminiscent. I must find a recipe and figure this out. Perhaps I will reach out to the children of Ho Yuen.

                      1. re: EATTV
                        EATTV Jun 7, 2010 12:14 PM

                        Here's an answer I found:
                        The snack you describe is also known as "tea food". It is a simple Chinese dish that encompasses much of what Chinese food is really about. Chinese food, in general, is as much about the marriage of multiple elements as it is about taste. Yin yang, balance and all that. Hard, soft, sweet, sour and etc. In English the best description is simply "Sesame snack" In Chinese it can be called Sh uh, Joi dan and etc. Since there are so many variations, to name a single one, would prove a disservice to you.
                        Ought to know, I am a Chinese Specialty Chef in New York City.

                        1. re: EATTV
                          marine101 Sep 6, 2012 09:26 AM

                          Okay Chef....what is your recipe for the soft version?

                    2. b
                      bear May 31, 2010 11:19 AM

                      Does this look like it?


                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bear
                        catsmeow May 31, 2010 05:32 PM

                        Those are hard candy. What EATTV is looking for is a soft jelly coated with sesame seeds. You could stretch it out. It came in small pieces about 3/4" x 1/3" and you could squish it between your fingoers too.. It was my mom's favorite candy.

                        1. re: catsmeow
                          EATTV Sep 21, 2012 05:02 PM

                          Thank you. Stretchy. That's all I'm sayin.

                          1. re: catsmeow
                            marine101 Sep 22, 2012 07:17 AM

                            A friend of mine found the candy. She found it in an Asian market in Portsmouth, NH.
                            It is from Viet Nam....the exact same candy. Trying to contact the importer, but without success.
                            The Brooklyn, NY company simply will not respond to my emails. Now trying some exporters in Viet Nam.

                            1. re: marine101
                              izzyizzo Jan 26, 2013 11:04 AM

                              Got a name or photo or something? I'm sure everyone here will be happy to help find it.

                        2. shaogo May 31, 2010 09:51 AM

                          That candy's made with concentrated honey and Maltose (malt sugar) and then coated with the toasted seeds.

                          If you're in Flushing, New York around the Chinese New Year it's easy to find them, in colorful mylar-style wrappers. But not after that time. And they're nothing like the home-made versions of days gone by in the restaurants.

                          I'd hazard a guess that the *exact* candies you're looking for are Cantonese-style (not the Mandarin-style I'm familiar with). You'd need to go to lower Manhattan to find those.

                          The folks who own Ho Yuen in Boston have long retired; the new owners don't have some of those traditional Cantonese recipes. You'd have to get ahold of one of the children of the original owners, to see if grandma's written down the recipe. Get a pic to us and we'll translate so you can make 'em at home.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: shaogo
                            Allstonian May 31, 2010 11:09 AM

                            Yes, it definitely would have been a Cantonese recipe. There may also be rice flour in the candy.

                            This photo isn't much to go on, but it's the only one I could find that looks right. It's from a sweet shop in Penang, Malaysia, labeled only "soft candy."


                            1. re: shaogo
                              marine101 Sep 6, 2012 09:02 AM

                              I'm of the belief that honey, brown rice syrup and either pectin or gelatine, not to mention sesame seeds (toasted) are the main ingredients. I now have to get the proper proportions.

                              1. re: marine101
                                lindawilds Oct 31, 2012 09:53 PM

                                Have you found the recipe. I love this candy. Every new Chinese Restaurant I go into i ask if they make it. They said the old timers use to make it fresh back in the 50's and 60's I use to get it at Braintree Five Corners Chinese Restaurant. They close years ago. I miss them. I would love to have the recipe or find the candy.


                            2. justbeingpolite May 31, 2010 08:15 AM


                              Are these them?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: justbeingpolite
                                Allstonian May 31, 2010 09:17 AM

                                Nope, nope, and nope. The Vietnamese peanut sesame candy comes closest, but the candy we're recalling didn't have peanuts in it, and the pancake shape is all wrong.

                                I did a LOT of Googling yesterday after this thread popped up, and couldn't find anything like what I remember.

                              2. Allstonian May 30, 2010 04:43 PM

                                Oh, man - I haven't even thought about those sesame jelly candies in years, but they were indeed delicious! Hope you can track them down.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Allstonian
                                  catsmeow May 30, 2010 05:59 PM

                                  Last year, I found something very very very close to it in Watertown. It was either at Arax, Sevan or the 3rd market close by(the name escapes me). I'm not sure which one it was but it was 1 of those 3. I got some for my brother who lives out of state. It really brought back memories of Cathay Village in Mattapan about 30-40yrs ago. I haven't seen it anywhere else.

                                  1. re: catsmeow
                                    tatsu May 31, 2010 07:24 AM


                                    1. re: tatsu
                                      Allstonian May 31, 2010 09:15 AM

                                      Nope, it's not halva. What EATTV and I remember is a soft, gummy candy in roughly half-inch cubes, coated with sesame seeds.

                                      1. re: Allstonian
                                        marine101 Sep 6, 2012 08:56 AM

                                        I sent email to the company (www.joyva.com) in Brooklyn that makes Halvah and other types of candy. I described the candy in detail. They make a sesame candy that is 'hard, and contains honey. They NEVER responded....so much for good customer relations !!

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