Our first stop was supposed to be the Lucky Chinese Cookie Factory to see the process of fortune cookie making, but apparently some part of the equipment was not working. However, we were able to start out with a beverage at Tea Talk, right around the corner. Our approach to the tour was to share with our smaller group of four, so I made the executive decision to order a Thai iced bubble tea ($2). A combination of strong black tea, sugar, and condensed milk, it's a sweet, frothy concoction. The tapioca bubbles were a little more dense than others I've tried, but the irony of chewing a drink never fails to amuse me.
At this point, we were ready to get down to the eating, so we were excited about the second stop- Bread Top House. The specialty of the "House" are the moon cakes- a thick bean or fruit paste encased in a thin layer of pastry ($1 each). We tried both the traditional red bean paste as well as a pineapple flavored cake. The red bean had a unique flavor that reminded us of chocolate and peanut butter, so it was almost like eating a big piece of fudge. Unfortunately, the pineapple wasn't as big of a hit- overpoweringly sweet.
|Red bean moon cake.|
We took a detour through an underground market (must go back to explore all of the interesting candies, teas, and spices they sell!) to our third stop.
Cube Cafe has a wide selection of breakfast and lunch items, as well as a list of snacks that were completely foreign to us. Trying new things is the fun part of such a exploration, so we placed an order for curry fish balls ($1.50) and a sesame Hong Kong-style waffle ($2).
The fish balls were on the weird side. Served four to a skewer, the consistency is incredibly dense- almost rubbery- and definitely fishy. A light coating of a sweet curry sauce gives it a bit of flavor, but even that had a weird chemical aftertaste. Not our favorite, but we're glad to have tried them!
The waffle was a much bigger hit- a web of crispy, slightly sweet waffle balls (apparently balls were the theme here...) with a subtle nuttiness. Definitely a fun little snack to share- some flavors even have fillings (chocolate sounds great!). A compared the flavor to a sesame bagel, but it had all the textural aspects of a waffle.
My cousin and her boyfriend had a hankering for some "real" food, so they both ordered ham and egg noodle bowls ($1.50). Simple ramen noodles sauteed in a light soy-based sauce were mixed with strips of salty ham and topped with a fried egg. Super cheap and a winning combination of ingredients.
I'm glad I kept it light because the next few stops filled me up. At K.C.'s Pastries, we shared a piping hot pork bun ($1.50)- a large, flat, shiny roll filled with a sweet and spicy pork concoction. The bun itself was buttery and airy, but the sweetness of the pork was a little off-putting. We were in the mood for something a little more savory at this point. Apparently K.C.'s is well known for their egg custard tarts, so we'll have to try that next time!
The sandwich is huge- even between the four of us, we had a hard time finishing it. The bread was my favorite part- a flaky, crispy crust and soft interior. A little too much mayo for my taste (but any mayo is too much mayo, really) but along with the pickled veggies, it kept the sandwich from being too dry. The pork is cut from a log of compressed meat, so that was less than ideal, but I thankfully didn't get any gristly bites. Not my favorite sandwich, but a heck of a deal.
|1/2 of the sandwich|
I left out the history lessons and mural viewings, but I highly recommend checking out this tour to learn a good deal about the Chinatown area and its occupants. We tried so many different types of food and got a feel for the layout of the neighborhood. One of the best parts of Chinatown is how incredibly cheap all of the food is- snacking our way through the different stops couldn't have totaled more than $20 for the four of us. The other great part about the tour is that we definitely feel ready to venture back on our own!