Eastern Bakery, located in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is a local institution famed for their mooncakes. Those aren’t what brought me into the bakery though – I was in search of a baked BBQ pork bun.
The bakery was quite cluttered behind the counter. I had to fight the impulse to go back there and straighten things up. Luckily, the cases in front displayed an neatly arranged array (compared to the mess behind the counter) of baked goodies.
I was a little worried when I saw a few sad looking baked BBQ pork buns sitting in the case, looking like they had been there all day. To my relief, the man behind the counter pulled a piping hot bun from another location.
It was quite large, about 5 inches in diameter, and only cost $1.25! Yank Sing charges $2.60, and theirs is smaller. I wasn’t sure how it good it would be so I only bought one and gave it to my daughter. Biting into it, she exclaimed that it was full of meat, a good sign. An even better sign was that the meat was not that weird red color that most BBQ pork buns have.
Encouraged by this experience, I returned to the bakery another day and bought 3 more buns. They were a solid success! My brother offered his toddler a bite of his, and she kept returning for more bites.
According to Yelp reviews, the Coffee Crunch Cake was something special. The cake is your typical Asian-style chiffon/sponge cake, light in texture with layers of whipped cream, and not too sweet.
What elevates this cake is the coffee-flavored shards that decorate the outside of the cake (thus, the crunch). If I hadn’t eaten so much at lunch, I would have eaten the whole slice myself.
Since Golden Gate Bakery was closed that morning (when is it ever open?), I also ordered an egg custard tart. The display held a three sad-looking day old tarts (at least they looked like they were), but I held out hope that they would magically pull one piping hot out of the same place they had kept the baked BBQ pork buns. No luck. The old lady behind the counter retrieved one of the cold, sad tarts and placed it in my bag. Bummer! The tart spent the rest of the day in my backpack, getting squished, until I got back to Los Angeles. By that time, I was a little scared to try it since it had not been refrigerated for the better part of the day. I took a small bite and was delightfully surprised to find that it was still decent.
One of the random things they have hanging behind the counter are photos of when Bill Clinton visited the bakery. Now how often do you see that?
We will definitely stop by Eastern Bakery the next time we are in town for more baked BBQ pork buns and will try some other items as well (though not any of the poorly reviewed dim sum). If you visit, ask the people at the counter what’s fresh and enjoy some reasonably-priced hot-out-of-the-oven goodness.
Location –720 Grant Ave., San Francisco, 94108
Website – http://easternbakery.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Pesco-Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes (not sure if they have vegan options, probably not)
Gluten-Free Options – No