At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


At an hour when, remarkably, I was fast asleep, an internet-reader discovered my blog, and was quite pleased. As a blogger I am naturally tickled pink when someone is quite pleased by what they find here.
It's one of the main joys of blogging.

Anonymous commented:
"Stumbled upon your blog, it's awesome. But more importantly, where ARE the best lao po bing 老婆餠 in SF?"

The post underneath which he or she appended their remark was CHINATOWN BAKERIES: DOW SA BING AND OTHER BING THINGS, written in January 2011.

"Stumbled upon your blog, it's awesome. But more importantly, where ARE the best lao po bing 老婆餠 in SF?"

Dear Anonymous commenter,

Thank you!

For me, the very best lou poh beng (老婆餠) in the city are down on Jackson Street at Yummy Bakery.

607 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94133.

But, in all honesty, I have had better ones. There's something about the air here, and the available ingredients, that affects taste.
- - -


Yummy is one of my favourite places, as it is a friendly, bright, clean, and comfortable small bakery, where I can always be assured of a cup of Hong Kong Style milk-tea (港式奶茶 'gong-sik naai-cha', also called 香港奶茶 'heung-gong naai-cha'). Their lou poh beng are pretty darn good, and come in two sizes. In addition to the old wife cookies (老婆餠), they have a wide variety of other treats, which I have enumerated here: Tea and something yummy.

At least once a week I will head down there to spend a pleasant half-hour over snackiepoos. Doing so is very important for the mental health.
At present, like all Chinatown bakeries, they are also selling mooncakes, it being the appropriate season for that.

Yummy Bakery takes pride in what they do.
Justifiably, and very much so.
It is a good place.

Another bakery of which I am fond -- and, remarkably, they ALSO do milk-tea and lo po beng -- is Blossom Bakery right in the center of Chinatown.

133 Waverly Place, between Clay and Washington.
San Francisco, CA 94108.

Early in the week I would usually head over there for a lotus-seed pastry (蓮蓉餅 lin-yong bing) and a cuppa, but lately I've grown fond of their charsiu sou (叉烧酥 barbecue pork filled rolls), and their curry puff (咖喱角 gaa-lei kok) are also very tasty. The charsiu sou are larger than elsewhere and the flaky turn-over crust is to my mind utterly delightful: airy, fragile, multiple tissue-thin layers, all nice and crumbly crumbly, crunchy-munchy.

It's an old-timey looking place. Clean, but well-worn. Many of the middle-aged gentlemen who head there after work are Toishanese, still adapting to America, but doing so gracefully. They are no longer the young hotshots they once were, but calmer settled adults.
They're well-tempered, and they'll leave you your privacy.
Many of them have known each other for a while.
There might be some gossip exchanged.
Don't worry, no one you know.

There are many other Chinese bakeries in San Francisco, as much of the population is of East Asian heritage. Out in the avenues, in 'New Chinatown' on Clement Street and in the Sunset District, as well as oddly enough on Mission Street, and elsewhere. Seeing as I hang out in the downtown, I tend to frequent the bakeries and coffee shops of the original neighborhood.
But I encourage exploration; the journey of a thousand munchies starts with a single bite.
Who knows, one of them may have the best low pou bing in the universe.
And that discovery will be dynamite.

Chinese Bakeries are awesome.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

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  • At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for your tips! After an afternoon of wandering around Chinatown and a disappointing Vietnamese lunch (we wanted to save having Chinese for dinner), we didn't make it to the Yummy Bakery & Cafe, almost bought something at Eastern, gazed longingly at the fresh gai zai bing at Napolean (too dense, saving room for lou po bing!) and finally bought a lou po bing and HK milk tea at AA Bakery.
    True to your previous postings, counter attendants had problems helping English-only speaking tourists, who much to their relief were aided by a Cantonese speaking customer waiting for a special cake. The lou po bing, alas, was nothing to write home about, let alone bring home.

    However, the Blossom Bakery was a winner! Great filling to pastry ratio, tender flaking pastry crust, not too sweet filling with occasional discernible winter-melon bits. And only 75cents! Of the three I tried while in the Bay area, definitely #1 for taste and best value. Can't wait until the next time I'm in the area and can try out some of your other recommendations! - Catherine

  • At 6:49 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Hi Catherine,

    Glad you liked the Blossom Bakery. As I mentioned, it's one of my favourite places. Late in the day the customers are usually people who have known each other for years, and speak the same dialect. Familiar faces at this point.
    A good atmosphere.

  • At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Catherine said…

    A small clarification, since writing on an empty stomach may have rendered my original comment a little bit misleading: the English-only speakers were a tall blond couple that came in 3 customers after my party. I probably would have helped them, but I was busy eating my spoils and they were being ably assisted by the aforementioned 1.5 gen/ABC waiting for her cake.

  • At 2:38 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Well, writing from my kwailow oersona, I tend to observe more than I help. Trying to explain what any of this stuff is to folks who have the wrong expectations can be a little trying at times.

    "This is a simple sweet pastry, filled with black bean goo..."


    "Black bean goo. Sweet black bean goo."

    "Urk. Ermmm"

    "Think of it as a form of marzipan. Made out of black beans...."

    "Ermmm. Urk."

    "you'll like it."


    dot. dot. dot.

    "Do they have sachertorte?"


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