Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Bunnies on a Cake – 圣安娜饼屋-Saint Honore Pastries

ImageMarch 23, 2013
圣安娜饼屋 – Saint Honore Pastries, Philadelphia PA
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豆沙包 (Red Bean Bun)
叉烧包 (Roasted Pork Bun)

兔仔蛋糕 (Rabbit Cake)
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Being in Chinatown, I was craving some traditional buns and Asian cakes. Nothing too sweet, too salty, but a nice blend of the two. I had never been to Saint Honore so I thought, why not give it a try. It did have many enticing cakes on display.Image

First, the 豆沙包 (Red Bean Bun) had the sweet ‘pineapple’ crust on top. The crust was not as sweet as I would like but it as crumbly and the bun was rather airy and soft. The texture was moist and a little chewy so that was good. The red bean or azuki bean paste inside was not very sweet so if you do not like the really sweet paste, this is for you.Image

The 叉烧包 (Roasted Pork Bun) was a little different than usual. The bun was good but inside was not your chopped roasted BBQ pork. It was small square slices. The BBQ taste was light but you could really taste the pork in this case.Image

The 兔仔蛋糕 (Rabbit Cake) looked better than it tasted. It was just so cute! The cake was airy and soft, not sweet, just like your average Asian cake. The cream was decent and again, not very sweet.Image

Going into a Chinese bakery, you know you do not have to worry about that extra sugar and overdose as much as if you were going into a western bakery and cafe. Things are just light here. 

 

 

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Where Are My Scallops? – 生记–Sang Kee Noodle House

February 16, 2013
生记 – Sang Kee Noodle House, Philadelphia PA
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叉烧包 (Steamed Char Sui Bao)
冬阴汤 (Tom Yum Seafood Soup)
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ImageDespite being so close to Sang Kee, I have not been there since my parents left. So when I got a discount on LivingSocial, I took the chance and ordered take-out dinner. Service was fine, but a problem I had was that the food did not live up to the description.Image

The 叉烧包 (Steamed Char Sui Bao) were decent enough. I doubt they made these in-house, thinking that they bought these. The BBQ sauce inside was sweet with a slight tang, just the way I like it. The pork was tender and there was an okay amount of sticky filling. The bun was soft and sweet.Image

The 冬阴汤 (Tom Yum Seafood Soup) had good flavour. It was not traditional tom yum soup flavours, though. There was no lemongrass, basil, and the other various Thai spices. Instead, there were a lot of chilli pepper flavour and pineapple chunks. Seafood wise, I was really disappointed. They only put in flounder fish fillets, shrimp, clams, and squid. The one thing I was looking forward to eating the most – scallops – were missing! Vegetables wise, there was an array of snow peas, carrots, straw mushroom, water chestnuts, and grape tomatoes. The noodles started to clump together, despite being put in a separate container until I combined the two myself. At least I enjoyed the seafood and vegetables with the spicy, hot soup.

A good thing about takeout is that you do not have to pay tips and you get to eat in the comfort of your own room. A downside, though, is that the container may be a little awkward, less convenient than a large bowl with a large opening. 

Sang Kee Noodle House on Urbanspoon

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Asian Jingling – 大统华面包坊–T&T Bakery

ImageDecember 24, 2012
大统华面包坊 – T&T Bakery, Richmond BC
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洛神花乳酪面包 (Roselle Cheese Bun)
枫糖黑豆面包 (Maple Syrup Black Bean Bun)
圣诞水果星形蛋糕 (Xmas Fruit Cake – Star Shape))
红豆麻薯椪 (Red Bean Mochi Pastry)
圣诞优格芝士蛋糕 (Christmas Yogurt Cheese Cake)

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New items from T&T Bakery seem to appear every couple of months so I got a pleasant surprise when I returned home. Mom and I just love trying out the newly created baked goodies.Image

First was the 洛神花乳酪面包 (Roselle Cheese Bun). The pink color was very visually appealing. It would seem from the appearance that it would be sweet, but the bread was actually soft and only lightly sweetened with the roselle. It was mostly doughy, although a little dry. The cheese filling was small in proportion but sticky and sweet. It was creamy and rich, pretty much a sweet cream cheese, and I loved it.Image

The 枫糖黑豆面包 (Maple Syrup Black Bean Bun) was a little less creative in my opinion. The black beans seemed present in the dough and the filling. The maple filling was a lot sweeter and stickier, which I loved, but there did not seem to be enough of it. The bread was soft and airy with a thick layer of dusting sugar on top to sweeten it just a touch.Image

Mom took out from the freezer the 圣诞水果星形蛋糕 (Xmas Fruit Cake – Star Shape). It was such a nice fusion of butter cake, fruitcake, and Asian cake. It was light but still rich and buttery. It was very dense and sweet but not at all overwhelming. The pieces of fruit strewn throughout added a nice tartness, but I just really loved the sweet, hard cake.Image

We also got a box of 红豆麻薯椪 (Red Bean Mochi Pastry) since it was on sale. Again, I am not a fan of layered pastry dough. It was okay, not too buttery or dry but still crumbly and thin. I was a lot more into the filling. The red bean paste was sweet and the yellow sweet potato-like paste just added a lighter sweet tone. Both were wrapped inside a thin layer of sticky, chewy mocha, before being surrounded by the pastry shell. The mochi did not have much flavour in comparison but I loved the contrast of the three textures.

Finally, Mom bought the 圣诞优格芝士蛋糕 (Christmas Yogurt Cheese Cake) to serve as dessert for our Christmas Eve dinner. It was extremely light and airy, lightly sweetened and tart. The texture was excellent and it was just slightly cheese. All the flavours were toned down but harmonious all the same. The thin layer of whip cream did not overwhelm anything and the cake on the bottom was also a light and airy cake, typical of Asian cakes.

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Such lovely new items make T&T Bakery one of the Asian bakeries to offer a large variety. They might have the most kinds of bread actually, compared to the regular bakeries around town. The new products are usually quite creative, too!
12-24-12 - 圣诞优格芝士蛋糕 - 大统华面包坊

Osaka Supermarket 大阪超級市場 on Urbanspoon

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Elegant Dim Sum – 苏杭人家-Suhang Restaurant

December 23, 2012
苏杭人家 – Suhang Restaurant, Richmond BC
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苏州酱鸭 (Special Sauced Duck Suzhou Style)
雪菜豆板酥 (Mash Bean Cake with Pickled Vegetables)
灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Soup Buns with Pork Filling)
上海荠菜馄饨 (Shanghai Wonton)
罗汉斋两面黄 (Vegetarian Crispy Yellow Noodles) 
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ImageFor a quick dim sum on a Sunday, we visited 苏杭人家 (Suhang Restaurant) as they always have great food and friendly service without a crazy line that is out the door. The restaurant was quite full but it was not outrageous. The owner, Amy, is always smiling and nice.Image

Suzhou cuisine is known for marinated cold dishes, especially duck and fish. Therefore, we tried the 苏州酱鸭 (Special Sauced Duck Suzhou Style). It was delicious, marinated in a sweet soy sauce. The duck was tender and the skin was not too fatty. The flavour was absorbed by the duck very thoroughly and the dish was served at a slightly cold temperature that was just right for this kind of appetizer.

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A hot appetizer, the 雪菜豆板酥 (Mash Bean Cake with Pickled Vegetables), made with fava beans that have been cooked till they could be mashed slightly. The fava beans were soft and mushy but still had their shape. The texture was great in that it allowed the beans to soak up the salty flavours from the pickled vegetables. This dish was warm but light and not too greasy.

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A traditional, the 灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Soup Buns with Pork Filling), was the not the best I have ever had. There was very savoury and tasty soup inside each bun but the wrapper was not thin enough. The pork filling was tasty and the buns were great, just not outstanding.

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Opting for something light and soupy, we had the 上海荠菜馄饨 (Shanghai Wonton), made with a shepherd’s-purse filling. I love shepherd’s purse. It is very similar to watercress. The small wontons had very soft wrappers around the refreshing filling. The clear broth was flavourful and light, just what we were looking for.
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The 罗汉斋两面黄 (Vegetarian Crispy Yellow Noodles) were very good. The noodles were nicely pan double-fried, crispy for the most part. I just love that crunch. Fried dough never disappoints. The parts that were soaking in the light sauce were soft and seemed a little over cooked. The vegetables, including baby bok choy, pan-fried tofu, black wood ear, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, shredded carrot, and bamboo shoots. I absolutely loved the baby bok choy, the two fungi, and the bamboo shoots. The tofu soaked up the light flavour nicely, though. The sauce was decently thickened and light, but still flavourful.Image

Finally, the 多汁生煎包 (Pan-Fried Pork Soft Buns) were nicely pan-fried. The outside had the slightest crispiness with the thick dough soft but not overcooked. The inside soaked up some of the soupy liquid that was so flavourful. The filling was good but too small. One small bite and you are just left with dough.Image

Not pricey but not cheap either, Suhang nails the flavours. However, I do think they could give slightly bigger portions for some of the dishes. The atmosphere is nice for those who like dim sum to be more elegantly high-end, without the crowded and noisy huge restaurants and the clatter of silverware. This is much smaller and had a friendly and bright feel to the place.

Suhang Restaurant 蘇杭人家 on Urbanspoon

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Monstrous Buns – 旺角站饼屋–Mong Kok Station Bakery

ImageNovember 23, 2012
旺角站饼屋 – Mong Kok Station Bakery, Philadelphia PA
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吞拿鱼包 (Tuna Fish Bun)
火腿蛋 (Ham & Egg Bun)
粟米包 (Ham & Corn Bun)
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Dad and I once again picked up breakfast for the next morning from a nearby Chinese bakery. Not that many were still open late Friday night but at least Mong Kok Station Bakery was still welcoming customers, partly because they are also part cafe with a dim sum and snacks menu and dine-in seating.Image

Taking my first bite of 吞拿鱼包 (Tuna Fish Bun), I knew then that I would not be going back. The bread was not soft, moist, chewy, and slightly sweet. Instead, it was airy and slightly dry, without much flavour. The filling was not very flavourful either and quite dry and bland. There was not very much of it either. The canned tuna was mixed with some chopped water chestnuts, I think, to add a crunch.Image

The 火腿蛋 (Ham & Egg Bun) certainly did not live up to my standards. The omelette was not thick and fluffy. The ham was far from savoury. The bread was dry and tasteless. This should have been such a simple bun, but even the mayonnaise was bland.Image

The 粟米包 (Ham & Corn Bun) was no different. The bread was especially dry and tasteless, making the texture unwelcoming. The corn was overcooked and not sweet, as were the peas. There were not that many to start with. The mayonnaise was bland but a little greasy. 

There was nothing about this bakery that will bring me back, not to mention that my dad asked for the Curry Chicken Bun and not until I ate it the next morning did I realize it was the Tuna Fish Bun. They need to figure out how to bake and sell it correctly. 

Mong Kok Station Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Pastry Buns Rules – 大家乐面包西饼–K.C.’s Pastries

ImageNovember 23, 2012
大家乐面包西饼 – K.C.’s Pastries, Philadelphia PA
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芋头包 (Taro Bun)
咖吔包 (Pineapple Custard Cream Bun)
芝士粟米包 (Corn & Cheese Bun)
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We stepped into K.C.’s Pastries to grab a few bun selections for breakfast the day before. I did not go last time Dad and Mom went but the place seemed decent, with quite a few customers.Image

The 芋头包 (Taro Bun) was very good, even if it was not up to T&T Bakery standards. The bread was soft, sticky, chewy, and sweet, very moist and freshly baked. The taro filling was very generous and decently sweetened. It could have used more taro, though, as it did taste slightly artificial. Not that I mind, but more taro would have been nice.Image

The 咖吔包 (Pineapple Custard Cream Bun) had the same great bread. The pineapple sugar topping was too crumbly and a little too dry. The texture was just slightly off. The custard cream inside was light yet sweet. It was the kind that I like. Image

Finally, the 芝士粟米包 (Corn & Cheese Bun) was the worst of the three. The bread was not as soft, moist, and chewy but at least it was still slightly sweet. The cheese was very bland, as was the corn. I could not really taste much of either of the flavours. Image

K.C.'s Pastries on Urbanspoon

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Thanks Mom, Thanks T&T – 大统华面包坊–T&T Bakery

ImageNovember 21, 2012
大统华面包坊 – T&T Bakery, Richmond BC
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菠萝叉烧包-港式 (BBQ Pork Pineapple Bun (HK))
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Honestly, the 菠萝叉烧包-港式 (BBQ Pork Pineapple Bun (HK)) is one of the best buns I have ever tried. Even after a long flight, it was fresh and super tasty. I finally got the chance to taste that slightly sweet, very moist, chewy, and soft bread, thanks to my darling mother. The sweet sugary pineapple crust was so crumbly. The BBQ pork inside was incredibly flavourful, sweet and savoury. There was a perfect balance between fatty and lean meat. The filling was quite generous. Absolutely divine.

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No T&T in Philly – 大家乐面包西饼-K.C.’s Pastries

ImageSeptember 6, 2012
大家乐面包西饼 – K.C.’s Pastries, Philadelphia PA
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鸡尾包 (Cocktail Bun)
花生酱卷 (Peanut Butter Bun)
榨菜肉丝包 (Szechuen Pork Bun)
沙爹牛肉包 (Satay Beef Bun)
椰丝菠萝包 (Coconut Pineapple Bun)
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Mom had some extra time on her hands while I had class, so she did me a favour and scoured out the Asian bakery scene in Philadelphia’s small Chinatown. According to her, KC Pastries Inc. was the best one she found because of their reasonable pricing and focus on the freshly baked buns instead of selling a bit of everything.Image

The 鸡尾包 (Cocktail Bun) was actually not too bad. The dough was soft, chewy, sticky, and slightly sweetened. However, it was not as dense as I would have liked and a little more moisture would have been nice. I enjoyed the custard lines on top, as they were very mushy. The coconut filling inside was quite sweet but had a weird colour, somewhat like a taupe or a funny lilac, instead of a yellow as I am used to. The filling did not seem very fresh, and the sesame seeds on top seemed a little out of place.

ImageThe 花生酱卷 (Peanut Butter Bun) was probably the most boring of the bunch. It was just a bland peanut butter rolled into bread dough. It was soft and fluffy, but I could not taste the peanut butter very clearly. It was kind of dry and crumbly, and there could have been much more in the roll. However, despite the light flavour, I liked the deviation from the regular peanut butter taste.Image

The 榨菜肉丝包 (Szechuen Pork Bun) did not taste much like pork. The meat was ground so finely it was more like a pate with the Chinese pickled vegetables. It was quite a savoury filling inside the soft and chewy bread. The texture was dense yet soft and mushy, which was fine by me. The colour was again somewhat off, making me question the freshness of the bun.Image

The 沙爹牛肉包 (Satay Beef Bun) was also soft, sticky, and chewy, although there was not too much bread as the shell was quite thin. The filling of ground beef in satay sauce with onions and other spices and ingredients had a slight kick to it, something that is hard to come by with Asian breads. I liked the spice quite a lot. The strong flavour contrasted the slight sweetness of the dough quite nicely.Image

Finally, the 椰丝菠萝包 (Coconut Pineapple Bun) just could not compare with the ones at home. The pineapple crust topping was crumbly but slightly over-baked. It was falling apart really quickly, and did not taste very rich and complex, just a simple sugary sweetness. I prefer a thicker topping as well. The bun was again nice and soft as well as chewy, sticky, and the like. The coconut filling inside was okay. There was plenty of shredded coconut so the texture was mostly that. It was sweet with the custard-like coconut filling and I wished there was more filling. Despite all the coconut inside, it was still slightly greasy. They probably should have cut back on the oil as well.

ImageOverall, I was quite pleased with the quality of the dough. None of them tasted as fresh as the ones at T&T Bakery back home, but they were definitely more than acceptable. I think with a much lower demand, you cannot expect extremely fresh, always day-old items. While KC Pastries Inc. certainly cannot compete with the many bakeries back home, it will do the trick when I am craving Asian bread buns. ImageImage

K.C.'s Pastries on Urbanspoon

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Little Shanghai, Big New York – 上海小馆-Shanghai Asian Manor

ImageSeptember 2, 2012
上海小馆 – Shanghai Asian Manor, New York NY
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灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Tiny Buns w. Pork)
菜芯狮子头 (Braised Lion’s Head Meat Ball w. Vegetable)
上海粗炒 (Shanghai Lo Mien with Shredded Pork & Shrimp)
鱼香茄子 (Eggplant with Garlic Sauce)
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Downtown Manhattan was great, but after a long walk to Chinatown, we were starving again. Originally planning on another restaurant with superb ratings and online reviews, we did not want to wait nearly an hour since it was already past 8 p.m. Thus, we decided on Shanghai Asian Manor, still eating Shanghai cuisine at a restaurant with good but not as many rave reviews.Image

The 灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Tiny Buns w. Pork) were huge and quite decent. They were also cheap at only $5.50 for 8! Steamed on a bed of sweet napa cabbage leaves – which I quite enjoyed – the little baozi were filled with pork that were not exactly too fat. This meant there was not as much soup inside as I would prefer, but it was still good. The wrappers were not the thinnest but they were not ridiculously thick. The vinegar with ginger was good and it was nice to find such delicacies far away from home.

The 菜芯狮子头 (Braised Lion’s Head Meat Ball w. Vegetable), another traditional Shanghai dish, was quite nice even if it was not exactly authentic. The three meatballs of ground pork were well seasoned and flavoured. It was pan-fried very nicely, with the harder, almost crunchy layer on the outside that was hard to bite and separate while the inside remained moist and juicy. The sauce was also quite flavourful and I loved the bamboo, shiitake mushrooms, and baby bok choy coated in the sauce. The bok choy, especially, was very good since the flavour was soaked into it completely rather than just have the sauce dumped over the vegetables at the last minute.Image

The 上海粗炒 (Shanghai Lo Mien with Shredded Pork & Shrimp) was quite disappointing. The noodles were somewhat flavourful with the soy sauce taste but it was slightly overcooked; while still holding its shape, it was not exactly firm and chewy. The shiitake mushrooms, shredded cabbage, and baby bok choy were okay, as were the shredded pork. The shrimp were actually quite tender and bouncy but that was the best part of the dish. I expected something a lot better from a Shanghai restaurant since this is one of the most generic, popular Shanghai dishes.Image

Finally, the 鱼香茄子 (Eggplant with Garlic Sauce) was my favourite of the night. The sauce was no garlic sauce; there was hardly any garlic or chili flavours. However, it had a nice sweet bean sauce-like base so it was rather sweet and savoury at the same time. The eggplants were fried quite nicely, although it was quite a greasy dish. I enjoyed the slightly pan-fried and shriveled black wood ear, and the peppers were also good. The eggplants soaked up quite a lot of flavour, so while not authentic, they were delicious.
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I was reasonably happy with this meal in New York’s Chinatown. It is not a myth that Chinatown food do not offer the most authentic, delicious dishes, which is why I was quite satisfied with Shanghai Asian Manor. The price and quality were compatible and while still craving the best Shanghai food, at least I had some decent, regular Chinese food to satisfy my growling stomach.

Shanghai Asian Manor on Urbanspoon

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Non-spicy Goodies – 上海坊-Shanghai Goodies

ImageAugust 26, 2012
上海坊 – Shanghai Goodies, Richmond BC
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小笼包 (Steamed Pork Buns)
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Since my cousin is too young for authentic Sichuan spiciness, we got him 小笼包 (Steamed Pork Buns) from 上海坊 (Shanghai Goodies) next door. Six xiao long bao’s were only $3.50… talk about cheap! Of course, quality was sacrificed, but it was still not too bad. The buns had thicker skin but since they were still made to order, the skin was still chewy. With the extra thickness, they were actually chewier, which was fine by me. The pork inside was not a fresh and did not have as much of a fresh, refreshing pocket of soup. The malt vinegar did not have ginger shreds and came in a container too small to dip the buns into. However, fatty pork and flour wrapper is still fatty pork and flour wrapper at the end of the day. My cousin certainly enjoyed his meal, even though I took one!Image

Shanghai Goodies 上海坊 (Parker Place) on Urbanspoon

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