Monday, February 2, 2009

Gung Hay Fat Choy

In honor of the year of the Ox and Chinese New Year, I ventured to Chinatown this weekend with a friend to witness local festivities.

Dragons from area dance troupes and martial arts schools paraded through the streets and devoured heads of lettuce and oranges, while I filled up on dumplings, buns and dough balls.

Asian treats are always a unique experience and for the cheap price of $.80 a bun, even during these tough economic times I can afford to splurge.

According to Chowhound, cake and desserts are especially symbolic during the Chinese New Year representing a rich and sweet life in the future. Layered cakes symbolize wealth in the future and the round shape of many cakes is important for family togetherness.

I highly recommend the Eldo Cake House, where I began my afternoon adventure. Known for their sponge cakes layered with fresh fruit and whippy icing, the little bakery was packed with tourists, locals and the downright hungry all fighting to catch the eye of the counter attendants. I really wish I knew Chinese so that I could shout my order over the others.

By the time I elbowed by way to the counter they had run out of coconut buns, but I was lucky to score pineapple cake and a couple of cream buns. Imagine a cream-filled doughnut only with lighter cream and saltier thicker dough padding. The house also has a side room filled with specialty candy.

To wash down our finds we headed to the Bao Bao Bakery and CafĂ© on Harrison Ave… also known as bubble tea heaven. The narrow store burst at the seams with customers clamoring for unusual green teas and red bean smoothies.

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink that contains tapioca pearls. This is not your grandmother’s tapioca. These little translucent jewels vary in color and size depending on their ingredients. According to a supplier of bubble tea, the white and translucent pearls are usually made of caramel, starch and chamomile root extract, while the black pearls are a combination sweet potato, cassava root and brown sugar.

In addition to polka dotted drinks, Bao Bao has the most colorful cakes I have ever seen including one iced to resemble a blow fish and another painted electric pink to look like a pig. Very fitting after my own pig-out session.


  1. I'ver never had the bubble tea w/the white bubbles!!! I didn't know such existed! I've only had the ones that look like blueberries.

    I'm pretty jealous of all of these things. I want a pineapple cake and coconut bun. Do they take internet orders? No? You can't blame me for trying...

    Aren't you glad you allowed me to post! I forgot to add that I would drive you crazy...minor technicality...

  2. Pig-out obsession... I love it!

    I wish I liked bubble tea… especially since I now know those little bubbles are called pearls!