The top five bakeries in Chinatown
Chinatown can be a daunting place for those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, as I learned when I moved into the neighbourhood last year. Thankfully, some things are universal, and baked goods are one of them. Here are my (highly subjective) picks for the top bakeries in Chinatown.
The best thing about the Butterfly Bakery (besides the bizarre array of technicolor plastic cakes in the window) is the variety. Traditional sweet and savoury buns are sold alongside dainty pastries, brightly decorated cream cakes, and dumplings straight from the hot table. Best Item: Green tea mousse cake ($2.50 a slice). It tastes as good as it looks.
As the name would suggest, this popular Dundas Street bakery offers simple and straightforward fare. This is not to say, however, that its offerings aren't delicious. And wow, the black sesame mousse looks good. Best item: Pineapple custard buns (3 for $1.00). Sweet and simple, like the bakery itself.
Furama Cake and Desserts
Part bakery, part social hub, the infamous Furama is nearly always full of older Chinatown residents catching up on gossip over tea and buns. The chaotic atmosphere may be intimidating at first to non-Chinese patrons, but once you're settled in the cozy seating area with a lavish cream bun, everything will be fine. Best Item: Almond cookies ($6.00 for a tub.) These bright yellow cookies melt in your mouth and only get better when dunked in a hot cup of tea.
Hong Kong Island Bakery
Decidedly less chaotic than the other bakeries on this list, this gem of a bakery, nestled among a strip of seafood restaurants on Spadina, is very nearly the best of the bunch. Besides the excellent buns and the seriously delicious sticky rice cakes, the giant sugar doughnuts are particularly good. Best item: Fried dough on a stick (85Â˘ each). Fried dough. Covered in sugar. On a stick.
Mashion may be the relative new kid on the block, but it has wasted no time in attracting a large and loyal customer base (myself included). The staff is friendly, the shop is spotlessly clean, and they make a mean coconut bun. Prices are excellent, with end-of-the-day deals being particularly good. Best Item: The egg tarts (50Â˘ each). Trust me. They're a thing of beauty.
Anything I've forgotten? Leave a comment and let me know!
Photos by Bruce Emberley
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