Saturday, August 9, 2008

Eastern Bakery

Longtime readers of this blog, if there are any left, will remember gushing posts about Bangkok's lively Chinatown, complete with coffee and snacks of course. Recent posts have pondered how to proceed without snacks to power my wandering thought the urban jungle. Employment opportunities have lead me through San Francisco's Chinatown on many occasions. The streets are flooded with, you guessed it, Chinese people, Chinese grocers, and tourists. No obvious street snacks. San Francisco's Chinatown may lack the sidewalk grills and coffee stands, but if you dig a little deeper, there are some real gems to discover.

My research had pointed me toward the Golden Gate Bakery for great pastries, but most importantly, egg tarts. I made my plans, marked my Google maps, and went in for the kill.

I had read that the line often extends down the block. But on this day...

they were on a nice extended vacation. Hmph.

A friend in high school once declared "A is the kind of guy that you could drop off in any country in the world with no money and he could have a sandwich in five minutes." This is pure hogwash. I usually have to pay for my sandwiches, but I am certainly good at finding them. I didn't let the folks at the Golden Gate Bakery have the last laugh. I simply visited their competitor. Punks.

Just down the street sits the Eastern Bakery. Reportedly Chinatown's oldest bakery, the Eastern Bakery looks old and dirty on the inside and out. I wouldn't have it any other way. Lunch had been skipped for reasons beyond my control, I had egg tarts on my mind, so I simply disregarded all the pastries on offer. "Four egg tarts please!"

These were delicious. The crust was fresh and flaky, the custard sweet, not too eggy, and just firm enough. I was only a little embarrassed to order four all for myself. You see, you get a good deal if you order four, and I had promised a certain someone at home egg tarts. I didn't eat all of these! I did in fact have an obligatory yet atrocious cup of coffee in a Styrofoam cup.

I ate my snack surrounded by a family of Eastern Europeans, a couple of Japanese ladies, and one Chinese man furiously scratching away at his lottery tickets. Tourists and locals flooded in. Even Bill Clinton stopped by in the early 90's and was photographed eating some of their famous cookies. Legend has it, he had to be removed from the premises after excitedly sampling the wares. He is known to be a man of enormous appetites. In this case, who can blame him?

Eastern Bakery
720 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 982-5157‎


Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog from Eating Asia, which I stumbled upon from Appetite for China.
As a Chinese-American Bay Area native, I've been to San Francisco Chinatown many times to eat.
I'm sorry you didn't get to have a famous Golden Gate Bakery egg tart. I was prepared to read a post about long lines and a long wait, which is typical as everyone loves their egg tarts.
Coincidentally, I was in Chinatown this past summer and saw that closed-for-vacation sign.
Golden Gate Bakery is very diva; they are aware of their popularity and are not afraid to open and close whenever they want.
I hope you get to eat one someday, if you haven't already.

a said...

Hi Jessica!

If I'm not mistaken, that "on vacation" sign was like a cruel joke. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I think they kept changing the date, so each time I went back they were still on vacation. Totally infuriating and comical at the same time.

Actually, I have been to the Golden Gate Bakery a couple of times, but never got around to blogging about it. Their egg tarts really are to die for. I've sampled a few in the area, and they are certainly the finest.

Any other places i should know about?

Thanks for stopping by.