Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Star Shine Bakery : Philadelphia

Whew, I'm ending my Chinatown bakery roundup with Star Shine Bakery.  Star Shine Bakery is at 9th and Arch and frankly, although it's been around for a year, I never realized that there was a bakery here.  I think that it's partly that 9th st, despite being one street away the main Chinatown strip on 10th, has dramatically less of the Chinatown bustling feel.

For those trying to place it in their mind, it's two doors down from Szechuan Tasty House, one of the first restaurants my gf and I tried in Philly (and also one of the first restaurants I've tried because of Philadining).  Or if that's not ringing any bells, it's next to the Philadelphia Eddie's Tattoo, one of the first places in Philly I got a tattoo.

Anyway.  On to the baked goods.

Egg Tart (蛋挞) - Sigh, I looked through all the tarts in the bakery and selected the most perfect-looking tart.  And after bringing it home, this is what I end up with.

But despite the wreck, I thought this was a pretty solid version.  The filling was tasty: eggy, creamy and nice.  The crust was a bit damp after only a day, but flavor-wise, it played second fiddle to the filling (a plus) and it did not have that powdery/chalky nor oily texture that sometimes ruins a decent egg tart.

Ham & Egg Bun - Mayo! Mayo?!?  Wow.  The addition of mayonnaise here was the biggest surprise in any bun of any of the Chinatown bakeries.  They use the cheap-quality ham and rectangular egg chunks, but the mayonnaise (and I think store-bought) really dominated the flavor.  I'm not personally a fan of this at all, but perhaps this is an audience for this and I'm somewhat glad that they go full steam with their idea, rather than go with another generic rendition.

Mexico Bun - This place is full of surprises, which after tasting so much of the same, is certainly refreshing.  I've only had Mexico buns where they just coat the sugary frosting on top (like this).  But here they spiral it on top...

...and fill the center with it!

Surprisingly, it's not overly sugary as one might expect.  But I keep on thinking that the sugary frosting in Mexico Buns with its lingering drawn out flavor could be so much more complex and fantastic (I'm thinking maybe some coconut or liqeur?) than what I've tried so far here or at any other bakeries.   This certainly isn't bad, but not something I'd get often.

Creme Bun (奶油包) - Decent, perhaps slightly overly sweet filling, but not too bad.

Taro bun - I had no clue what this was when I picked it up (there were inexplicably no labels, Chinese or English, describing the buns).  It turned out to have taro inside and unlike the loaf we got at Hong Kong Bakery, which makes my stomach turn a bit when I think of it, this taro filling was lighter and had that more subtle flavor of taro.  I wouldn't call it great, but it seemed somewhat similar to the accessibility of flavors at K.C. Pastries.

When we went, there were no other customers in the shop and each tray was filled very sparsely, so I'm wondering whether their location has hampered people being aware of this place, which would be too bad.  Star Shine Bakery seems to be making above average quality buns (Egg tart, Taro bun) and some of the surprising decisions in the Ham & Egg and Mexico buns, while perhaps not what I like, at least reflect some thought and care on the baker's side, which is much better than can be said about some other Chinatown bakeries.

I wouldn't say this is so great quality that it's a must-try place.  But if there was a ratio, describing the quality of food to the number of customers, it seems to me that the ratio for Star Shine Baker would be wildly out of whack.

Star Shine Bakery
906 (?) Arch St Philadelphia PA (Map)
($Bakery, $Chinese, $Philadelphia)

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