Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Asia Bakery : Philadelphia

Almost done. I'm almost done with my Chinatown bakery round-up with one more to go. In hind-site, I suspect that this round-up would have been much more fun (to do and to read), had I just bitten the bullet, gone to every single bakery in Chinatown, invited some friends over and done the comparisons as a taste-testing... Or perhaps forgone the friends and stuffed myself silly for the sake of this blog.

But then again, 12 bakeries with multiple things from each would have been overwhelming certainly for me alone and probably even for multiple people.


I must admit upfront that I've regularly passed Asia Bakery without as much of a thought.  Since it has Vietnamese so prominent on its awning and sign, I for better or worse assumed it wouldn't be as good as the Chinese ones.

But entering inside, the first thing that my eyes were drawn to were a glass case full of steamed buns.  And I have got to say that with so many bakeries selling the same things, it was refreshing to see.

I picked a couple up, in addition to my usual buns.

Meatball Bun (叉牛包?) - I'm actually not too sure on either the English or the Chinese name, but inside this big white fluffy bun is a (pork?) meatball, quite similar in flavor to the meatballs you can order at dimsum. There's perhaps a bit of shrimp inside too, but like the standard dimsum meatballs, this one was unfortunately overly rounded in flavor and could have used something more savory or pointed to make it more interesting. There was a good amount of meat, but overall more bun than insides. Fortunately and surprisingly, the white bun was sweet enough to satisfyingly eat on its own.

Sticky Rice bun (糯米包 - Oh man, I apologize in advance.  I'm not sure why this looks so unappetizing in the picture, because it looked actually rather appealing in person. The bun in this one was less sweet than the meatball one and much denser than the other as well, the latter of which wasn't so pleasing. The sticky rice insides had Chinese sausage and tea leave bits (?), that gave this a slightly more neutral and subtle flavor than your standard restaurant sticky rice. But overall, I wish the sticky rice was juicier and had a stronger flavor. As it was, it was a little bit too subtle.

(Hmm, it's slightly less disgusting-looking when the picture is smaller.)

Sesame Ball - This was a pretty large sesame ball, with lots of glutinous rice.  Inside was a yellow bean filling, which left this slight gritty feel on your teeth similar to that after eating not-washed enough spinach. My gf is actually not really a fan of yellow bean to begin with, but this particularly was dried out. Wasn't a fan.

Ham & Egg - This was a decent tasting and accessible version.  The bun was semi sweet but not overly done.  Note that I toasted this at home and ended up slightly burning the top - this wasn't the case when I bought it.

Egg Tart - There wasn't much flavor to the egg custard and what little flavor there was, was vastly overwhelmed by the rather dry crumbly tart.  Erk.

Pineapple bun - The topping had a surprising crunchiness to it and really distracted me from tasting the bun at all.  Flavor-wise, it was fairly light, which well I could go either way on.

While the bakery products I ordered here were only so-so, I must admit that I remain somewhat intrigued by this place.  For one, I think it's great that they sell freshly steamed buns (although that point might be nullified once I try Yummy Yummy).  And secondly, the sign lists a Vietnamese name, which leads to wonder whether  I missed out on some scrumptious Vietnamese snacks that out-shadow these Chinese buns that they may have felt compelled to sell.

Anyhow, I'll probably take a peek at this bakery again to see if I missed out on anything.  Or if you get a chance before I do, give me a heads up on anything I might have missed.

Asia Bakery
115 N 10th St Philadelphia, PA 19107-2402 (Map)
(215) 238-9295
($Bakery, $Chinese, $Philadelphia, $Vietnamese)

1 comment:

  1. Great pastries and the best coffee in Chinatown!Jim