One of my favourite places to get a cheap lunch or snack is the Chinese bakery. You can find one in any Chinatown, and they have a marvellous selection of baked goods that are nothing like the bread and pastries you see in Western bakeries.
My local Chinese bakery is St. Anny Food in The Hague’s Chinatown. They have a wide selection of buns, cakes and pastries for €1,- per item or €10,- for a dozen, which is the regular price in most Chinese bakeries. There are English names and descriptions for all the pastries, so don’t be afraid to walk in and order whatever looks interesting!
One classic that I love is the pineapple bun, which is a fluffy white bun with a crunchy, sweet layer on top (see photo). And no, it doesn’t contain pineapple; it gets its name because of the top layer is supposed to look like the outside of a pineapple. I think it looks more like a turtle, but I suppose that doesn’t sound quite as appetising.
The fried sesame ball in the picture is made with glutinous rice flour and it’s wonderfully chewy and crispy at the same time. Ours was filled with a sweet red bean paste. Because the inside is hollow, it’s not too heavy despite being fried.
And of course, you can’t miss the egg tart. Most traditional egg tarts have a flaky crust (made with lard, so it must be good) and a generous egg custard filling that’s not too sweet. Restaurant Hoi Tin in Amsterdam makes good egg tarts that deserve a visit if you’re nearby. Note: the restaurant used to have great dim sum as well, but their veteran dim sum chef has left and opened his own restaurant in Amsterdam. For good dim sum, go there instead!
Next time in part 2: opening up a Chinese bakery mystery box! We’ll have a closer look at the types of flavours you will find in Chinese bakeries. Hint: beans are involved, and it tastes much better than it sounds.
St. Anny Food
Restaurant Hoi Tin