Why I love Asian Bakeries: Part 2, Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery

Friday, June 20, 2014

So do you want to know another reason why I love Asian bakeries? I said in my first post here that it's because there is a myriad of weird and wonderful creations that you can find in them, sort of like a bakery museum!

One of the other things I love about Asian (Chinese) Bakeries is their cheep and cheerful fare and how you'll be hard pressed to find a bakery that is exactly the same as another. Each has their own 'feel' to their baked goods - no two Bo Lo Bao taste the same, no two Dan Tarts have the same texture. Each bakery has it's own take on the sweet and savoury classics.

Another reason I love Chinese bakeries is because they are places where you can find unexpected morsels in the most exciting of places. Like this.

What do you think lies inside this mysterious steel container? When I popped in to Emperor's Garden Bakery in Chinatown one weekday afternoon with a rumbling tummy and an appetite for something hot and savoury, not quite feeling like bread but not wanting to go anywhere else, a sign hollering 'Sticky Rice Dumpling' attracted my attention. Yes, please!

So I asked the server behind the counter for one, and she asked me if I wanted it hot or cold. Upon requesting a hot one, she pointed to the curious silver container and I puzzle fly walked towards it. Then she gestured for me to open it.

Ahhhh. There lies food in it! And it steams! Now a wave of excitement set over me. I reached inside and grabbed a plump, heavy dumpling, plonked it on my tray and waddled happily over to the counter to pay for my snack, grabbing a few other goodies on the way. Then I went to eat it.

The excitement I expressed at unravelling my purchase was probably a little over the top given that that it didn't look particularly exciting or appetising. And upon carefully unpeeling the sticky banana leaf that concealed the glutinous rice, it still didn't look very extravagant. But break into the outside and you are greeted with a mix of crumbly yellow egg yolk and stringy, pink pork chunks.


It wasn't as soft or moist inside as I'd expected, probably as a result of having spent a little too long sitting in the steamer/warmer, but it was satisfying and filling. And well worth the excitement!

Another exciting find that made my day for the second time that day were these little morsels.

Perhaps you've tasted these pops of joy before? If you have, how would you describe them? If not, what would you imagine they taste like?

Taa daaa! 

They're cream puffs, from Emperor's Garden Cakes and Bakery in Dixon Street in Chinatown. These bite-sized, golden puffs are sold from a tiny window adjoined to the Bakery, made from an old-fashioned, tinkling machine that operates relentlessly at all hours of the day. Fans are so high in number that lines are inevitable, no matter what time of the day you visit. Part of their appeal is that they're cheap, tasty and something you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in Sydney or even Australia. I'd read about these before, and Mum raved about them upon snatching some up for dessert one weekday while in Chinatown, so knew I had to see what I was missing out on. 

And I'm glad I'm not missing out any more! Inside the miniature balls, stained with rich, brown spots from the manual machine that churned them out, was a pleasant dollop of creamy golden custard. I'm not quite sure if it's custard, or cream, but perhaps a combination of the two, slightly eggy like custard but light and clean like cream. The best of both worlds. Be careful, they come out fresh and piping hot!

And so on the way I also picked up what I thought was a red bean-filled jin deui, a deep-fried glutinous rice dumpling coated in sesame seeds and filled with red bean paste (for more see here). But alas, when biting in to it upon arriving home I found it instead filled with....egg yolk. A surprising addition, oddly savoury but tasty at the same time. Perhaps it would be better if they had labels pointing out what each dim sum was filled with... I also got a Daan Tart for Dad and he said it was absolutely delicious. 


Emperor's Garden Cakes and Bakery

Emperor's Garden Cake & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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  1. i freaking love their egg tarts! can never resist buying just one!

  2. I travel to Asia every year for my job and what I love the most about Asian bakeries is their practicality about how you pick your own products ,that are individually wrapped, fill your tray and go pay... get a hit green tea and your happy.

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