Next to the cash register at Double Crispy Bakery, Chinatown explorer Lau has discovered some of the neighborhood's best egg custard tarts. Of the three kinds of dan tat on offer—regular, egg white, and Macau-style—his favorite is the Macau, with its browned, caramelized top. He ranks it up there with the hound-endorsed egg tarts from Ka Wah Bakery, his go-to source a few blocks away. "Surprisingly good," says Lau (who also blogs about Double Crispy). "The crust was nicely flaky and the custard was warm, fresh and eggy."
Alongside the tarts, look for an idiosyncratic but excellent version of lao po bing, or wife cakes. These sweet pastries, filled with mashed winter melon, are usually wide discs of thin dough enclosing a gooey interior. Double Crispy's are smaller, with a thicker, flakier crust and a denser, goo-free filling that's just sweet enough. "They’re delicious," Lau says.
For savory snacks like steamed-to-order cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), hounds have long headed to Sun Light Bakery on East Broadway. Late last year, AubWah reports, it renamed itself Happy Star Bakery, but the staff swears the shop has the same owner and the same great Hong Kong–style snacks as before. AubWah's must-order bargain bite is sticky rice with sausage, chicken, and mushroom: "It's so good I feel like I am ROBBING THEM by paying only $1.75 for it."
Though the rechristened Happy Star occupies two storefronts, it's still a tiny place that does mostly takeout business. small h, choosing to eat in, got her beloved cheong fun with shrimp. "I liked it a lot," she says, "even though I had to eat standing up and got hit with the door a couple of times."
Double Crispy Bakery [Chinatown]
230 Grand Street (between Elizabeth Street and Bowery), Manhattan
Happy Star Bakery [Chinatown]
160-162 E. Broadway (near Rutgers Street), Manhattan