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Tao Hong Bakery – A Solid If Unremarkable Chinatown Bakery, But Try The Mango Sticky Rice Ball

  • l
  • Lau Oct 2, 2013 11:09 AM

**For full post and pics**: https://www.lauhound.com/2013/10/tao-...

Tao Hong Bakery is a bakery I noticed because of a positive review on chowhound, which you can see here (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/839791).

It’s a rather small and non-descript Cantonese bakery which would not particularly standout if you were just walking by it. The interior is quite small with two display cases at the front and side and that’s really it. The lady who runs the place is quite nice and can speak English pretty decently if you don’t speak Chinese.

Here’s what we got:

Pork Floss And Crème Bun
This is a baked bun that has pork floss (rou song) and a slightly savory white crème in the middle. The bun itself was quite good; it had a slightly sweet flavor and was nicely moist. The pork floss was good as well, but I’m just not a fan of the savory cream which sort of reminds me of room temperature butter. This is a good version of this type of bun and probably the best one I’ve had in NY, but as a dish it’s just not my thing. 7/10

Egg Tart (Dan Ta
)The actual egg custard was pretty good; it had a decently egg-y flavor and was fresh. The crust was standard, but not as flaky as I like it. It was a pretty decent rendition, but I prefer Double Crispy or Ka Wah. 7.75/10

Coconut and Red Bean Pudding
This is a square of cold coconut and red bean pudding with some coconut shavings on top. The pudding is creamy, but fairly light and not too sweet. It’s not heavily flavored and generally tastes a bit more of coconut than red bean as the red bean flavor is faint. It’s decent although I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it, but if you happen to be here might be worth trying. 7.5/10

Vanilla Cake Roll
The cake was decent although it could’ve been a bit moister. The vanilla crème was good and it’s slightly salty which I liked as it contrasts nicely against the sweet cake. It was decent, but nothing special. 7.25/10

Steamed Pork Bun (Cha Siu Bao)
The bun itself was pretty decent, fresh and reasonably fluffy. However, I wasn’t crazy about the sauce; it was that red sweet sauce and it was a bit gloppy and too sweet. I much prefer Mei Li Wah’s to these. 7/10

Mango and Coconut Glutinous Rice Ball
This is the standout here. It’s a fairly large mango flavored glutinous rice ball covered in coconut shavings with fresh mango in the middle. The lady told me to eat it the same day. The glutinous rice ball was very soft and tender with a slight mango flavor and was sweet although not too sweet. The coconut shavings add a nice textural contrast and flavor. The mango in the middle was very fresh and tasted great. This is the one thing I’d say is worth coming here for. 8.25/10

Overall, everything at this bakery is fairly decent and it’s definitely an above average bakery in NY. Although I didn’t feel like anything was particularly standout with the exception of the mango ball and I prefer Double Crispy (https://www.lauhound.com/2012/01/doub...) and Ka Wah (https://www.lauhound.com/2010/12/ka-w...) for Chinese pastries.

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  1. Lau, do you know who has good mango tapioca pudding in Chinatown? I remember having that long time ago at one of the dim sum restaurants in Boston but I don't think i have ever seen one in Chinatown in NY. The only dessert I saw at the dim sum place I went a few weeks ago is the sweet tofu which I am not a big fan of(kinda reminds me of sweetened egg whites). I've head other tapioca desserts in Chinatown but nothing like that mango one I had in Boston which was really really good.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Monica

      there's never really been a good mango dessert in NY; l've actually never been to a good one in the US. they usually cut too many corners (not good enough quality mango, use too much pre-packaged stuff etc).

      Flushing has one that is ok called beautiful memory dessert: https://www.lauhound.com/2012/01/beau...

      there are also two new mango dessert specialists in chinatown, but i have not tried either of them yet
      http://www.yelp.com/biz/mango-mango-d...
      http://www.yelp.com/biz/indessert-new...

      In case you want to see a good one in HK here's some food porn: http://www.openrice.com/english/resta...

      1. re: Lau

        Thanks Lau, I should really check out that new world mall in Flushing. that's exactly what I am looking for.

        I noticed that a lot of Chinese desserts like the egg tarts(and that wife cake in your blog) have that really flaky tart dough that's heavy in texture in a good way which is completely different from dough crust they use in apple pies or other flaky Western desserts. any idea what they use? I am thinking pork lard...what do you say?

        1. re: Monica

          yah they usually use lard (a friend of mine took a cantonese baking class in HK and that's what they used)

          interestingly contrary to popular opinion lard is actually not as bad for u as butter (i just learned that from a cooking show that had a doctor on it) although they are both obviously still bad for u!

          1. re: Lau

            No, they are both very very good for you. =)

            1. re: Monica

              good for your mental health

        2. re: Lau

          Beautiful Memory Dessert just opened earlier this month in Manhattan Chinatown (69A Bayard, one door west from 69 Restaurant). Haven't tried it yet, but I'm going for one of those mango sweets.

          Speaking of which, anyone been to the newish Mango Mango a block or so east?

           
           
          1. re: squid kun

            beautiful memory dessert is from the new world mall in flushing

            https://www.lauhound.com/2012/01/beau...

            1. re: Lau

              I know—would've linked LauHound (or your C'hound post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/826159), but I was replying to a post where you'd included a link. Looking forward to checking this place out.

            2. re: squid kun

              I've tried Indessert, Mango Mango, and Beautiful Memory and I like Beautiful Memory the best. It's pretty similar to the one in Flushing. I'm glad to have all these new dessert places in Chinatown. They usually seem quite busy. So much demand that was just waiting to be served!

              1. re: pravit

                yah i never understood why HK style dessert places are not more popular

        3. That mango dessert sounds amazing- do they have other rice base desserts? I love the white gelatinous rice floppy triangle desserts but have not had a good version in a long time...

          9 Replies
          1. re: Ttrockwood

            yah i think they might have had some other glutinous rice desserts, i'd imagine those would be good bc the glutinous rice itself was quite good (ive had some really bad ones in chinatown) and they used fresh mango, so id imagine they'd use decent quality ingredients for the other

            those white gelatinous rice floppy triangle desserts are called bai tang gao 白糖糕. When i was a kid i LOVED those things, i liked them even more than da ta / dan taat (egg custard tarts). Are you Chinese? That's a very old school cantonese dessert; you actually don't see it that much anymore. It's been a while since ive had it but sun say gai on canal & mulberry had a decent version. I'm going to go get one soon now that you reminded me!

            1. re: Lau

              My kids love bai tang gao. We used to get it at the old Hong Gung at 30 Pell. They were a bakery and restaurant. I would describe it by wiggling my hands, sometimes they knew what I meant. I personally prefer dan taat.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                i prefer dan ta now too, but when i was a kid i preferred bai tang gao

              2. re: Lau

                I am not even a tiny bit chinese, but my best friend as a very young child was- her family ran the local chinese restaurant so i was introduced to some amazing foods and flavors that have stuck with me. I will go in the next few days to try these, haven't had a good gelatinous rice dessert in a long time!

                1. re: Ttrockwood

                  ahh cool

                2. re: Lau

                  Speaking of sun say gai, what do you think of the pork buns there? I like them but find the sauce a little sweeter than mlw. I also like the egg custard.

                  1. re: vinouspleasure

                    i used to like them even more than MLW, but a few years ago something changed and they went down hill. i havent tried them in a long time, but i should try them again

                  2. re: Lau

                    Your problem might be that the primary use of white/brown sugar sponge cakes for Cantonese people in Ctown (at least the ones I've been around) is for things like qingming, where you bring the chicken/roast pork as the primary offering along with things like the sponge cake to the cemetery. You'd grab it from wherever it was available, just to have it and not because it was something tasty that you wanted to eat. There's no incentive to make it good because people have to buy them. I haven't tasted any in a while because the last few that I tried were horrid.

                    1. re: SomeRandomIdiot

                      maybe but i always felt like they were old people desserts; my dad liked them and my grandparents liked them, but none of my cousins did well at least not nearly as much as me. i think i was the only young person who really liked them alot

                3. Just adding the address for those interested.
                  79 Chrystie St (between Canal St & Hester St)

                  Putting this on the list for my next trip down. Thanks Lau :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: iluvcookies

                    enjoy

                  2. Do they have the White Sugar Sponge Cake (伦教白糖糕)?

                    The only place in Manhattan that makes a decent version that I like is at Canal Bakery.

                    23 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      i dont remember seeing them off the top of my head, but i also wasnt looking for them. i could check when i get back to NY (im back next week). all this talk of 白糖糕 is making me want one

                      i liked them at sun say kai historically, but its been a while since ive had one there

                      1. re: Lau

                        Did you mean Sun Say Gai (and not Sun Say Kai)? Anyway, interesting. I've never thought of looking for sponge cakes at SSG (or SSK).

                        I remember getting those sponge cakes as a kid when my mom would take me to Chinatown from Queens. I would finish at least 2 or 3 three squares on the subway ride home.

                        Damn, I love those things.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          yah sorry they keep changing the english name, its 新世界 in chinese. they have several old school cantonese desserts there

                          me too although i have memories of getting them in LA (chinatown and later MP) growing up when we would go to my grandparents house or id make them pick them up for me after dim sum to snack on later...i love them as well

                          1. re: Lau

                            Next time you're in LA, try the brown sugar (!) sponge cakes at Yum Cha Cafe.

                            More here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3545...

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              sounds great

                              have u ever had the almond flavored ones? they're very rare now (i haven't seen one in a really long time), but they're the same except almond flavored (think chinese almond milk flavored)

                              1. re: Lau

                                Yeah, I faintly recall those. Sort of like mush, milk-soaked almond cookies (and don't think I've never tried that before).

                                Hopefully sponge cakes will be the next thing to go upscale. Taro sponge cakes, chestnut sponge cakes, and maybe even things like mango or lychee flavored sponged cakes. Yum.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  yah i love sponge cakes too

                                  hey do you remember what those cantonese sort of brown semi sponge looking cakes are called? (sometimes they're a dull yellow too) they're a little high and cut into rectangles. i havent had one in a really long time and i saw one this morning at koi palace (had dim sum before i flew back to NY). I'm going to search them out bc i havent had one in so long

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Do you mean "fa gao" (發糕)?

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      yah thats what i was thinking of but now that i think about it it might have actually been a really small 马拉糕 at koi palace

                                      any which way im going to go get all of these this week haha

                                    2. re: Lau

                                      Isn't it called Ma Lai (as in Malaysian) Goh in Cantonese?

                                      1. re: Humbucker

                                        there is a ma lai gao 马拉糕 as well, but its slightly different than a fa gao 發糕. Fa gao is shaped more like a cupcake vs ma lai gao which is more like a slice of cake

                                        ma lai gao
                                        http://www.misstamchiak.com/recipe-ma...

                                        fa gao
                                        http://www.sugarbakingblog.com/tag/be...

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  i tried the bai tang gao @ canal cafe bakery which is now called 242 cafe bakery in english, but has the same chinese name 光華餅家. They were alright, but they were a bit on the sour side (i came late in the day though to be fair). Also, they actually had the brown sugar ones although honestly they tasted almost the same here just very slightly sweeter.

                                  I'll try them one more time earlier in the day, I stopped by sun sai gai, but they were out of them.

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Interesting. I've never seen brown sugar ones there. Truth be told, I haven't been there in probably over a year (and a half?) now.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      ill try to go again this weekend, but much earlier this time

                                      how do the ones at yum cha cafe taste vs the regular ones?

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        Sweeter, but I would also a bit smoky (maybe caramelized is a better description)

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          ah cool

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            Lau, would you know how the term "ma lai gao" (马拉糕) came about? The cake's introduced to Malaysia/Singapore by the HK-Cantonese eateries.

                                            1. re: klyeoh

                                              i actually have no idea.

                                              i bet its like singapore mai fun where some HK chef was trying to make something nanyang inspired and came up with it. Maybe its based on the many different kueh?

                                              1. re: Lau

                                                I suspect so. "Singapore mai fun" noodles was, as you'd said, a dish invented by a HK chef in the US - putting curry powder into fried noodles and labelling it "Singaporean" since HKers have this impression that Singaporeans *love* anything curried or spicy. Of course, not a single noodle dish among the many we have in Singapore even look anywhere close to *that* dish :-D

                                                That said, we in Singapore are also guilty of coming up with a lot of mislabelling ourselves - "Mee Siam" (Siamese/Thai-style noodles) and "Mee Jawa" (Javanese/Indonesian noodles) are purely local-Singaporean inventions, and *nothing* in Thailand or Java closely approximate these dishes.

                                                1. re: klyeoh

                                                  ipoh hor fun! haha

                                                  yah there are lots of dishes like that, you know there is a mexican bun now? its being served at the cantonese bakeries now

                                                  1. re: Lau

                                                    Ah, Mexican buns - I did share this family experience in a SF Bay Area thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/913119

                                                    "Well, a Singaporean aunt's mother-in-law, Cantonese lady in her nineties, used to talk about how her 2 older brothers left their home village in Toishan county (Guangdong province, China) to go find work in Mexico, way back in the 1920s. In those years, the Cantonese-Chinese were already the 2nd-largest immigrant group in Mexico after the Spanish. It actually took a long while before my aunt realised that the foreign land, "Mak Sai Ko", which her mother-in-law was talking about was Mexico :-D

                                                    The old lady did recount about how some folks who worked in Mexico brought back new foods and cooking techniques to their home villages."

                                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                                      BTW, here are some *real* Mexican buns I bought from this bakery down at the Mission district, SF. Do the buns look familiar? P.S. - They are *not* Chinese pineapple buns (菠蘿包)

                                                       
                                                       
                                                      1. re: klyeoh

                                                        yah they are very familiar, in fact i grew up eating mexican pastries in southern california. the white one on the left are my favorite. i go to this mexican bakery at home and get them fresh when they are still warm from the oven, really good with a cold glass of milk. i never really thought about it but maybe i liked them so much bc they are similar to chinese pastries

                                                        that's interesting that a bo luo bao could potentially be from mexico haha