Friday, January 27, 2023

IT'S DISTINCTLY A HONG KONG THING

In retrospect I got there just in time. The egg tarts were fresh out of the oven (蛋撻啱啱出爐 'daan taat ngaam ngaam chut lou'), so I had one with my tea. Shortly afterwards, two people came in and between them snagged sixty others. Two whole baking trays, still hot. When did egg tarts (蛋撻 'daan taat') become a New Year's treat? A generation ago egg tarts were almost nowhere to be found, now people fight over their favourite places!

One person was also desperate to find taro new years cake (芋頭年糕 'wu tau nin gou'), of which a tonne were sold last week, but she may have been out of luck. Behind the curve. Demand can not be predicted. Personally, I am not a great fan.
Fortunately little egg tarts are made frequently.
Flaky crust, sweet custard filling.
They're delicious.

It's a Hong Kong thing. But it's not strictly a Hong Kong thing. Even Mandarin speakers and other mainlanders are addicted. As are many others.

But their popularity began in Hong Kong.
Along with milk tea (奶茶 'naai chaa').
And little chicken pies.
雞批 ('gai pai').
For several reasons -- mostly egg tarts and little chicken pies -- that place is a constant favourite on my list of regular places to visit. Their egg tarts are stellar, and at least once a week I must surround myself with a Toishanese racket; it keeps me grounded.


THE AA BAKERY & CAFÉ
永興餅家茶餐廳 ('wing hing bing kaa cha chan teng')
1068 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 981-0123


Pastry, a hot beverage, chit-chat, and hubbub. The staff are nice people. Followed by a pipe smoked while perambulating the neighborhood. Yesterday's briar was one I associate with a different bakery, for complex and not entirely logical reasons.
Pipes are obviously NOT a Hong Kong thing. In fact there is almost nowhere there where pipes or appropriate tobaccos may be found. The Dunhill branch now specializes mostly in designer schmatte. And while they smoke like chimneys, the locals prefer ciggies.

Mr. Eager, who spent the first dozen years of his life there (some of them interned at Stanley Fort), did indeed smoke a pipe. But he probably picked that up at school in England.


Only slightly related thereto, I have two staved teak tobacco boxes from Dunhill in Hong Kong in my bookcase, next to a set of the classics and a dictionary of Chữ Nôm.



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