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Apr 13, 2011 08:51 AM

Chicken Sandwich on a Pineapple Bun at Carnation Food in Chinatown

Attracted by the bright lights and the grand opening sign, I ventured into Carnation Food and Bakery, located off the far corner of Bowery and Canal. I'm not sure if this is the former site of the Szechwan restaurant, but it's right by where the fan gwai line up for the bus to Boston. This is one of the bakery/cafes where you can't serve yourself, but rather the server puts your choices on your tray. In this case it seemed a little odd since it was early in the morning and only a very few items were out on display. When I bought the chicken sandwich, I didn't notice anything unusual about the bun, but when I bit into it I immediately noticed the sweet crunchiness to the top portion. Upon closer examination I saw that it was a pineapple bun, not so named because it contains pineapple flavoring, but because the crusted top visually resembles the exterior of a pineapple. At $1.60 I considered this to be an interesting treat and a bargain. And because it's their grand opening they charged me only $1.30. There are no menus or cards with the street address, but I believe it is 148 Canal St.

Carnation Food & Bakery
145 Canal St, New York, NY 10002

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  1. A Flushing bakery with the same name makes the same sandwich (though it's not unique) ...

    The Canal St. Grand Sichuan is still in business, by the way. It's a few doors farther east, around the bend in the road.

    Grand Sichuan
    125 Canal St, New York, NY 10002

    12 Replies
    1. re: squid kun

      I heard the staff at that Grand Sichuan sleep on mats in the basement

      1. re: AubWah

        I used to see the staff at Ollie's near Times Square sleep in the back of the dining room.

      2. re: squid kun

        Interesting that yet another Flushing eatery decided to set up shop in NY Chinatown. A "suburban" Chinese eatery opening up a branch in any core Chinatown in the US or Canada has been quite unusual. I guess Sweet n Tart had done that previously, and it seemed to work for a while.

        1. re: Chandavkl

          New York is different.

          We get over 46 million tourists a year. That works out to an average of 12,600 new arrivals every day. And 99.9% of them will never leave Manhattan.

          Also we're growing. We would not be if it wasn't for the influx of Hispanic and Chinese immigrants. In 2000 we had only two communities with a majority Asian population (Manhattan Chinatown and Flushing.) According to the 2010 Census, we now have seven Asian majority such neighborhoods.

          On a net basis, the Asian population in NYC increased by 32% - 250,000 since 2000. Asians now make up almost 13% of the NYC population.

          1. re: scoopG

            I agree New York is different as the Chinatown there is a much more integral part of the metro Chinese community as compared to San Francisco Chinatown and Los Angeles Chinatown. But there haven't been that many examples going from Flushing to Manhattan on an absolute basis. Besides Carnation and Sweet n Tart, there's Xi'an and He Nan in the past 18 months. Can you think of any more? Can think of one example in San Francisco (Enjoy Vegetarian), none in L.A., Vancouver or Toronto.

            1. re: Chandavkl

              I guess I think of it as more of an expansion of the Chinese.

              According to the NYC Dept. of City Planning, Flushing has 50,000 Chinese and Elmhurst, Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Manhattan Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Woodside, South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Bayside, East Flushing and Sunnyside all have more than 15,000 Asian residents.

              The majority Asian neighborhoods are Flushing (69%) Queensboro Hill, East Flushing, Elmhurst-Maspeth, Murray Hill, Manhattan Chinatown and Sunset Park East (52%).

              The fastest growing Asian population was in Baisley Park (Queens.) BP went from 328 Asians in 200 to 1600 in 2010.

              1. re: scoopG

                Yes, but how many Chinese are there on East Broadway on Mondays when Fujianese from all over the US visit the mother ship? It's fun to go to that part of Chinatown on Monday evening as you're bound to run into a wedding banquet. I encountered one this past Monday and not at a typical banquet sized venue but at one of the relatively small restaurants over on Division St.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  Oh plenty for sure! For some reason NYC likes to use old "neighborhood" designations in Census counting. In their logic, "Chinatown" ends on Bowery.

          2. re: Chandavkl

            I'm not 100% sure they're related. If I drop by I'll ask.

            1. re: squid kun

              Well, they both list the chicken sandwich in the pineapple bun at $1.60! That would be quite a coincidence if they weren't related.

              1. re: Chandavkl

                It's doubly clear what's going on. The 99.9% of the 46 million tourists who never leave Manhattan have now reached critical density (lots of mass, little space). What we have here is an Einstein lensing effect: the bending of light in dense enough situations sufficient to create multiple images of the same object. Astronomers routinely see twin images of a single galaxy. New Yorkonomers are seeing two images of the same pineapple-bun shop.

            2. re: Chandavkl

              You're right; this is a spin-off of the place on Kissena. The young woman at the counter said her mom's name means "Carnation."

          3. I heard this opened! I still think this is one of the great baked good places and now in a much more convenient location. definitely gotta eat this stuff fresh, get the crazy pillowy square one with the black sesame seeds.


            1. I tried the Kissena chicken sandwich today. Not sure if this is the case with the Chinatown version, but the bun here is not your typical Pineapple pattern, rather a serated exterior, with perfect little square patterns. Plain English - this is a friggin' weird looking bun. But I'll be damned if this isn't a good combination. The juicy fried chicken breast is nice and plump, and is topped with cucumbers in a spicy sauce that, thankfully, is not laid on too thick. All that plus the sweetness and chewiness of the bun make this thing tick. Good, cheap and filling lunch.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Polecat

                yup. the same. and same prices! tried the Manhattan one for the first time and had an amazing meal for under $5. Try the vegetable steamed rice rolls; they are really good.

                1. re: Polecat

                  Yes, that's why it didn't hit me immediately.