Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cocktail Buns from Eastern Bakery


Eastern Bakery Visit.
Eastern Bakery is a Chinese bakery in Chinatown, that has been on my radar for a while.  I haven't actually explored much in Chinatown in San Francisco, but, whenever I visit Sydney, it is one of my favorite pastimes, specifically, for the baked goods.  I'm not sure why I never choose to do so in my own city.
Curb Appeal.
Eastern Bakery is located at the corner with an alleyway, marked by a big red sign advertising "Chinese & American Food".

The "American Food" part is particularly amusing to me, given that the american food selection seems to be limited to ice cream bars.
Store Front.
The front windows show an array of treats, and are covered in signs of all shapes, sizes, and colors.  You can tell that they were just added on one by one.  There are also some decorations, and, super randomly, a few water bottles?

Its kinda charming, actually.
Front Window Moon Cake Display.
One entire section in front is mostly moon cakes, split open to show you the different fillings they offer.
"The Only Bakery in USA Visited By President Clinton For its Mooncake!""The Best Quality Moon Cakes For The Least Of Your Money!"
They are clearly proud of these moon cakes, and they seem to be their signature item. Eastern Bakery offers 30 (!) different styles of moon cake, and ships them all across the US anytime.

However, I didn't try those.
Inside Display Cases.
"The best quality cake in town! Fresh whipped cream cakes and fresh fruit cakes."
Eastern Bakery also make a variety of cakes, about 20 kinds, all different flavors and fillings, round or sheet cakes, in multiple sizes.  But I haven't had those either.  Yelpers seem to love the coffee crunch cake.

There is also, kinda randomly, a freezer filled with ice cream novelties, like Nestlé DrumsticksIt's-Its, and Häagen-Daz, not Asian at all.

Their "other items" include cookies, sesame balls, egg custard tarts, puff pastry "cakes" filled with many different pastes (e.g. sweet lotus, sweet adzuki bean, winter melon, mung bean, etc), pies, dim sum items like steamed buns with filling (sweet and savory), and even Chinese tamales (sweet and savory).  And cocktail buns.
Classic Pink Box.
One day, I walked by the microkitchen at my office, to see a classic bakery pink box sitting out.  My pace increased.  Usually these boxes yield one thing: donuts.  When I reached the box though, I saw that it was not from a donut shop.  Instead, it was from Eastern Bakery.

Inside? Cocktail buns.
Cocktail Buns!
Cocktail buns were new to me.  I actually didn't know what they were, but, they are a Hong Kong creation, with a fun backstory.

Bear with me, this is interesting!  The story goes, that they were invented by a bakery as a way to use day old buns.  They would grind up day old buns, mix them with coconut and sugar, and then use those for a filling for fresh buns.  The "cocktail" name comes from it being like a bartender's mix of things.  Or, so they say.

Anyway.  This was my first cocktail bun.  And my second.  And my third,  They were fantastic.
Cocktail Bun: Side View.  $0.95 each or $10.10/12.
"Sweet coconut and cream filled bun. A customer favorite!"
"Delicious, sweet, rich-to-taste coconut cream filled bun."

I think whoever ordered these got a dozen, and they weren't fully separated. Here you can see the edge where it was baked on to its neighbor.  I separated one, and dug in, not really sure what I was eating, since I didn't have the description available.  They just kinda looked like strange shaped soft rolls.

The dough was soft and sweet, a pleasant surprise.  I love Chinese sweet bread, and was thrilled that this was indeed a dessert.
Cocktail Bun: Top View.
The top was lovely golden brown, shiny.  Not crispy, but slightly crusted.

Inside was the coconut filling.  I didn't know that this was even going to have a filling, much less what it would be made of, but I was happy it had something (although, I like Chinese sweet bread enough on its own that I probably would have been happy with it plain).

The filling I liked at first, but, actually decided was too much.  Maybe it was just the ratio of filling to bread?  Maybe it was because I had already had dessert and a lot of sugar that day?  The filling was sweetened shredded coconut, quite moist, basically like a really soft macaroon.  Or what almond croissant filling would be like if it were made from coconut instead of almonds.  This totally makes sense, right?

The description mentions cream, but I didn't notice any cream.

Overall, the filling was good, it complimented the sweet bread well, but I found myself actually wanting to just eat the sweet bread, and come back for the sweetened coconut filling later.  Which was perfectly fine with me.
Cocktail Bun: End Piece.
Since we had a big box full, we also had an end piece.  This one had the shinny crust all the way around the side, since it did not have one baked adjacent to it.

I really like the soft part of the dough, so I preferred the interior pieces.  This one however had less filling, so I liked that.

Eastern Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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