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"Old Man Cakes" (Lao Gong Bing) at Wonder Food Bakery, Oakland Chinatown

Just wanted to report that Wonder Food Bakery is one of my new go-to spots in Oakland Chinatown, especially for their Lao Gong Bing ("old man cakes" or "husband cakes"). This is an item I hadn't heard of and haven't seen elsewhere, though I've since heard that a couple other places in Chinatown, including Napoleon Bakery, make not-as-good versions.

These are a variation on "Lao Po Bing" (which I've seen translated as "wife cakes" or "sweetheart cakes"), a sweet, round-shaped pastry that's traditionally filled with a winter melon-almond paste. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweethea...

The "male" version, "Lao Gong Bing" -- at least at Wonder Food -- is filled with a savory-sweet paste that's made from BBQ roast pork and has some small chunks of nut (walnut?) in it too. Very tasty, and the pastry itself is nice and flaky, topped with a scattering of sesame seeds. Best of all, these are a steal, priced at just $1.35 for FIVE. (That's $0.27 each if you do the math -- don't know if they charge a higher rate if you only want to buy one or two.) They're smallish pastries, maybe two inches in diameter, but one or two of them make a great snack or breakfast. Look for them in a separate case on top of the main display case.

Wonder Food sells mini wife cakes (no black sesame seeds on these) for the same price, and they also have a larger, more traditionally-sized "lao po bing." I haven't tried either of those.

I didn't see too many threads about this place (here's the one helpful thread I did find: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/541385), and since the shop is kind of hidden away on a non-busy corner of Webster and 9th (across from the cultural center), I'd never noticed it before. Maybe a tough shop for a non Chinese speaker/reader to navigate, since some (most?) of the items are only labeled in Chinese, and several other items are kept in back and aren't visible in the display case.

Haven't had a chance to work through too many of their offerings yet, but today I bought five "old man cakes", two egg custard tarts, a pineapple bun with custard filling, and a pork song ("rou song" -- that furry brown stuff) bun -- all for a grand total of $4.20.

The egg tarts were $0.60 each, 10 cents more expensive than Ruby King (my go-to place for egg tarts in Oakland) and not quite as good. Perfectly respectable, though, with a flaky crust.

The pineapple bun was well above average -- especially the checkered "pineapple" topping part (which looks like a pineapple but has no pineapple in it, for those who don't know), in large part because the bun was pretty fresh (still slightly warm when I bought it). Better than Napoleon's.

The pork song bun will be my breakfast tomorrow.

Any other items people like here? Anyone seen and tried the "lao gong bing" at other bakeries?

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

Napoleon Super Bakery
810 Franklin St, Oakland, CA

Wonder Food Bakery
340 9th St, Oakland, CA

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  1. My heavens, abstractpoet, what an extraordinary find. Flaky crust, meaty, sweet filling with a nutty crunch, and $1.30 out-of-pocket for five lao gong bing, circular, about 3 inches each in diameter. Sprinkled with black sesame seeds on top for an appealing presentation (I'm bringing these to Thanksgiving dinner), delicious, and a real bargain.

    Note: you need to flag the attention of one of the young women working the counter and ask for them, as they are not displayed prominently, at least when I was there.

    1. I tried this from wonder and Napoleon today. Indeed the wonder version is better. The ingredient taste fits together in a more harmonic way.

      $0.30 if you buy one. So it's also cheap.

      1. came across the original and lst wonder bakery in s.f. turkey day. it's now called blossom bakery in waverly place. a really large "lao po ping" was .75 cents. the quality wasn't there.
        crust was flaky but the melon taste was diluted, probably by the addition of flour. the black sesame seeds were present. egg custards at .65 cents similiarly didn't taste authentic.(thick shells, custard flavor bland.

        hate paying for parking in oaktown. will walk over to wonder someday to try out their versions. l

        2 Replies
        1. re: shanghaikid

          Note that this Blossom Bakery is completely unrelated to the Oakland Chinatown Wonder Bakery that everyone else in this thread is discussing.

          Why do you say that the SF Wonder Bakery was the "original"? I'm not sure they ever had anything to do with each other.

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          Blossom Bakery
          133 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA

          1. re: abstractpoet

            Paul Wong opened wonder bakery on waverly place decades ago. a 2nd opened on clement st (now alex) , the 3rd is the wonder in oaktown which kept it's original name and seemingly it's original recipe.

        2. I stopped by Wonder Food Bakery yesterday and picked up a durian puff pastry for $1.25 or so. It's about 3' in diameter, tastes like a ripe, runny brie with notes of stinky tofu and is not nearly as flaky as the "old man cakes." It comes in its own individual resealable cellophane bag labelled 'Wonder Food Bakery" and lists its address on 9th Street as well as a nearby address at 725 Webster in Oakland which just happens to be the location of Kam Land Bakery. A post early last year on another site suggests that Kam Land is a branch of Wonder.

          1. 老公饼: Lao Gong Bing
            What's in it: Fermented Red Bean Curd, Peanuts, Sesame, Five Star Anise, Butter, Salt

            3 Replies
            1. re: wolfe

              Is that a generic recipe, or is that specifically what the people at Wonder Food Bakery say they use? There's definitely meat in theirs.

              1. re: abstractpoet

                Here's where I got it and I am not sure I detected any meat..
                http://www.lifeofguangzhou.com/node_1...

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  There are few set recipes for anything when it comes to Chinese food. I agree that there is meat in the one we get locally. But if the recipe wolfe found is from China then it may have other ideas on what is the recipes.