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Sesame Balls

I know everyone raves about Banh Mi, but I'm a Sesame Ball fanatic---also taro, custard, pineapple buns...
If anyone else shares my liking for some of these or any other asian-type desserts, please feel free to share locations and/or suggestions.

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  1. My personal favorite for this sort of thing is the Yi Soon bakery in Allston. Fantastic taro buns. Not sure if they have sesame balls, though.

    6 Replies
    1. re: kitsune

      I've never tried Yi Soon, but I definitely would travel for them. Yea, it's that bad...

      1. re: SOBoston

        Chiming in late here, but we drove to Yi Soon from the western 'burbs and were not disappointed. I didn't see sesame balls, but they had delicious everything else. It's set as a destination now in my GPS. Their prices are excellent!

        1. re: Isolda

          One of my favorite bakeries in all of Boston.

          1. re: Isolda

            Out in Allston, right? I'll have to make a weekend trip to check it out. Thanks!

        2. re: kitsune

          I don't think they do sesame balls there, because I certainly would have gotten them if I'd seen them there!

        3. I had some amazing ones at Winsor Dim Sum.

          Winsor Dim Sum Cafe
          10 Tyler St, Boston, MA 02111

          4 Replies
          1. re: nsenada

            What is Winsor near? I feel like Chinatown does a good job creating hideaways.

              1. re: SOBoston

                Winsor is directly across the street from China Pearl, which you'll certainly be able to find. And I really like the sesame balls at China Pearl, for that matter: they're one of my standby orders.

                1. re: SOBoston

                  Winsor also has (on weekends only i think) steamed buns with egg custard inside...i haven' tried them but they seem to be popular ...China Pearl also has (baked) pineapple bbq pork buns, not listed on their dimsum menu (i think "pineapple" refers to the pineapple-like appearance of the sugary crust on the outside of the bun, I don't think there is actually pineapple in the bun, although i could be wrong)

              2. There was a recent thread about Chinese desserts (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/718069) that might be helpful for you. I like the sesame balls at Winsor a lot. I also had some very good ones at East Chinatown in Quincy recently. Yi Soon is my favorite Chinese bakery in the Boston area, but I do not believe that they have sesame balls there. Blue Asia Cafe (across the street from Yi Soon) is owned by a talented baker. If you call them in advance she will sometimes be able to make special desserts, like Mung Bean Cakes.

                East Chinatown Restaurant
                415 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171

                Blue Asia Cafe
                113 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                8 Replies
                1. re: lipoff

                  I agree, don't think I have ever seen them at Yi Soon.

                  1. re: StriperGuy

                    Yi Soon does mostly baked things, and some steamed things, but I don't believe they're even equipped to do anything deep-fried, which rules out sesame balls.

                    1. re: Allstonian

                      I dont get the love for Yi Soon, maybe i was at the wrong place?? This was in Allston near/next to a bubble tea place. I dont recall anything in cases or trays, just baskets of different buns each individually wrapped in cello bags. We got a 1-2 dozen of them for a party, all different types. Found they all were basically the same bun with a hint of some flavor in the filling to make them slightly different. Other than that i dont recall much of anything in the place. They were fine but not hot, not really much different from each other, sort of boring.

                      I much prefer the bakeries in China Town.. I never recall the names but the one over by the gate or the one next to the parking garage on beach st.. or Great Taste.. Love getting a pineapple bun straight out of the oven, still hot. Or an egg custard tart etc etc..

                      1. re: hargau

                        You are definitely missing the good stuff at Yi Soon. Some are definitely kinda bland, others amazing. I've posted on this about a million times, but they excel at:

                        - Sweet potato bun
                        - Sweet cheese bun
                        - Cream cheese bun (I think, there are two cheesy ones)
                        - Egg salad sandwich (when the have it)
                        - Best Moon Cakes BY FAR in Boston
                        - Chocolate walnut cookies
                        - Raisin bread is good
                        - pickled veggie bun (only have this sometimes)
                        - Rolled things in the fridge case are the best of this ilk in boston and some of the best I've ever had.
                        - Very simple plain cheese cake is subtle, and not that sweet, but excellent

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I had the top 3 buns you list. Not a fan of moon cakes, walnut anything, egg salad.. Will check the rolled things out next time im in the area..

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              yep.. I just prefer the chinatown bakeries. I also like getting the buns hot out of the oven. Rather then individually cello wrapped in baskets.. Just my preference i guess.

                            2. re: hargau

                              just a link

                              Yi Soon Bakery
                              112 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA

                  2. At the Super 88 Food Court in Allston/Brighton there is a Dim Sum place which has delicious sesame balls. It's located in the "back" of the food court, i.e. back where the food court joins up with the grocery store.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kdl

                      They are v. good, and they make them to order.

                    2. I haven't seen sesame balls at Yi Soon either, but it (YS) is well worth visiting for many other reasons. The key with sesame balls is freshness. Just made, they are fantastic. After they've been sitting around, they are a sad, glutinous mess, better at giving your jaws a workout than at delighting your tongue. I, too, have had rather good ones at China Pearl.

                      China Pearl Restaurant
                      288 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA 01801

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: FoodDabbler

                        I agree they are MUCH better hot, but also like the chewy texture they take on when cold.

                      2. I'm not sure of the name of it, but there's a bakery diagonal to the Sovereign Bank that usually makes them more dense and Eldo makes the lotus kind...and I would take them fresh or a few hours old. It's that bad.
                        I'll have to check out the Blue Asia Cafe.

                        Blue Asia Cafe
                        113 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                        1. I like sesame balls, too.

                          I'm also a fan of the sweet rice dumplings, like those at the Eldo Cake House.

                          Is anyone familiar with the translucent, slightly gelatinous, vinegary-tasting sweet offered at some Chinese bakeries? Its name escapes me, but I love the stuff.

                          Eldo Cake House
                          36 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Kenji

                            I think you mean "bak tong go" (Cantonese) - which means white sugar cake/cream. They have a yellow version called 'wong tong go', i.e., yellow sugar cake/cream. I like those too.

                          2. Here's another good Chinese sweet: Lotus root pie!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Kenji

                              Never had those. Where did you find these? During Chinese New Year, candied lotus root is common, but I don't like the sugary coating, so not my cup of tea.

                              1. re: kobuta

                                I get lotus root pie at Hing Shing. It is usually visible in the window. It goes beautifully with strong coffee (which I usually get at one of the Vietnamese places).

                              2. re: Kenji

                                I haven't run across lotus root pie before, but googling found two potentially interesting recipes. The first is a mixture of ingredients which appears to be steamed (or in this case microwaved) and then deep fried, the second is minced ingredients sandwiched between slices of lotus root, battered, and deep-fried.



                              3. Don't know if these are the same thing but I ordered sesame balls from Chilli Garden this weekend and got slippery things that looked sort of like, um, eyeballs? Arrived in warm water, $2.50 or $2.95 for four. Delicious.

                                Chilli Garden
                                41 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: djd

                                  These were white dough balls with a ground sesame filling? They're not the same thing as striper's* sesame-encrusted balls.

                                  * and others on this thread

                                  1. re: djd

                                    Those are delicious, and Chili Garden does the consistently best version in the area. They are called tangyuan and I would translate them "sticky sweet rice balls" or something like that. You can find frozen versions at any Asian market (usually with sesame, peanut, red bean or lotus paste fillings), which can be boiled in water until they float.

                                    The rest of this thread was about a oil-fried air-filled sesame-coated spherically shaped pastry, served hot or at least warm, usually accompanying Dim Sum.

                                    1. re: lipoff

                                      Beijing Star in Waltham also USED to do a superlative version.

                                      Beijing Star Restaurant
                                      835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        Yes, I agree they were excellent at Beijing Star as well. I liked Beijing Star, although I thought they were a bit inconsistent too. I like Mulan a lot, and I think Waltham is trading up, but I also mourn the slight downtick in diversity of our Chinese food offerings that loosing Beijing Star means. While we're on the subject, Anise, the late-upscale Sichuan restaurant in Kendall Square (where the Friendly Toast is today), did the best tangyuan I've ever had. Unfortunately, that was also perhaps their best dish!

                                        Beijing Star Restaurant
                                        835 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                                        The Friendly Toast
                                        121 Congress St, Portsmouth, NH 03801

                                        1. re: lipoff

                                          that's odd. i was told they didn't have any dessert at beijing star

                                          the best tang yuan i ever had were at fuloon in malden and uncle cheung's in framingham. soft chewy rice balls filled with sweet black sesame paste floating in a light broth with hints of rice wine

                                          1. re: galangatron

                                            I've never had them at Uncle Cheung's, but the tangyuan can be excellent at Fuloon. Usually, they are just ordinary black sesame paste filled tangyuan boiled in water. They aren't bad, but nothing special. But sometimes you can get jiu3 niang4 tang1 yuan2 there, where the tang yuan are boiled in a pungent rice wine. Super-terrific.

                                            Uncle Cheung's Restaurant
                                            266 Worcester Rd, Framingham, MA 01702

                                  2. The sesame balls at Banh Mi Ba Le in Dorchester is my favorite. They usually only have them on the weekend. They usually have a yellow bean stuffing that is a little crumbly (not sticky red bean stuff that usually is found in the sesame balls in Chinatown.

                                    Banh Mi Ba Le
                                    1052 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125