Chasing the Dragon’s Beard in Chinatown

Yao's Dragon Beard Candy is a familiar sight around Chinatown, peddling a unique Chinese confection from a cart that's turned up at various spots from Canal Street to the Bowery. Now the Dragon has landed. It's been parked recently in a corner of New G.S. Food Market, a grocery and fishmonger on Grand Street. Lau finds it well worth a visit. The namesake sweet—a cocoon of fine hand-spun sugar and maltose syrup, filled with ground peanut and shaved coconut—is "quite good," he says. "The strands are delicate and I liked the ground mixture inside."

It's also "sort of a pain to make," adds Lau (who also blogs about Yao's)—a feat of sugar-dusted performance art that you can witness up close if you happen by at the right time. And time is of the essence with dragon beard candy: Lau once got a batch that apparently had been sitting around too long, and it was disappointingly hard and dense. But he'd take his chances again. "If you’re in Chinatown, I'd suggest dropping in and giving it a try," he says, "as it’s definitely not very easy to find even in Asia and it’s pretty tasty."

Around the corner from Yao's new digs, right at the intersection of savory and sweet, is the pork song sponge cake from Tao Hong Bakery. Song is shredded, jerkylike pork, "sort of like bacon bits, but soft," says HLing. Tao Hong's version of this snack is uncommonly well proportioned, striking a nice balance of porky sweetness and "amazingly soft, eggy, and cool sponge cake." This shop also bakes a standout egg tart with a thinner, lighter crust than the one at a longtime hound favorite, Ka Wah Bakery on Eldridge. It's "often sold out," HLing says, and "especially delicious fresh out of the oven."

Yao's Dragon Beard Candy at New G.S. Food Market [Chinatown]
250 Grand Street (at Chrystie Street), Manhattan
212-274-0990

Tao Hong Bakery [Chinatown]
79 Chrystie Street (between Grand and Hester streets), Manhattan
212-219-0981

Discuss: Yao’s Dragon Beard Candy – A Hard to Find Chinese Candy in Chinatown
Savory sweet sponge cake from Tao Hong Bakery in Chinatown

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