Just wanted to report that Wonder Food Bakery is one of my new go-to spots in Oakland Chinatown, especially for their Lao Gong Bing ("old man cakes" or "husband cakes"). This is an item I hadn't heard of and haven't seen elsewhere, though I've since heard that a couple other places in Chinatown, including Napoleon Bakery, make not-as-good versions.
These are a variation on "Lao Po Bing" (which I've seen translated as "wife cakes" or "sweetheart cakes"), a sweet, round-shaped pastry that's traditionally filled with a winter melon-almond paste. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweethea...
The "male" version, "Lao Gong Bing" -- at least at Wonder Food -- is filled with a savory-sweet paste that's made from BBQ roast pork and has some small chunks of nut (walnut?) in it too. Very tasty, and the pastry itself is nice and flaky, topped with a scattering of sesame seeds. Best of all, these are a steal, priced at just $1.35 for FIVE. (That's $0.27 each if you do the math -- don't know if they charge a higher rate if you only want to buy one or two.) They're smallish pastries, maybe two inches in diameter, but one or two of them make a great snack or breakfast. Look for them in a separate case on top of the main display case.
Wonder Food sells mini wife cakes (no black sesame seeds on these) for the same price, and they also have a larger, more traditionally-sized "lao po bing." I haven't tried either of those.
I didn't see too many threads about this place (here's the one helpful thread I did find: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/541385), and since the shop is kind of hidden away on a non-busy corner of Webster and 9th (across from the cultural center), I'd never noticed it before. Maybe a tough shop for a non Chinese speaker/reader to navigate, since some (most?) of the items are only labeled in Chinese, and several other items are kept in back and aren't visible in the display case.
Haven't had a chance to work through too many of their offerings yet, but today I bought five "old man cakes", two egg custard tarts, a pineapple bun with custard filling, and a pork song ("rou song" -- that furry brown stuff) bun -- all for a grand total of $4.20.
The egg tarts were $0.60 each, 10 cents more expensive than Ruby King (my go-to place for egg tarts in Oakland) and not quite as good. Perfectly respectable, though, with a flaky crust.
The pineapple bun was well above average -- especially the checkered "pineapple" topping part (which looks like a pineapple but has no pineapple in it, for those who don't know), in large part because the bun was pretty fresh (still slightly warm when I bought it). Better than Napoleon's.
The pork song bun will be my breakfast tomorrow.
Any other items people like here? Anyone seen and tried the "lao gong bing" at other bakeries?
Ruby King Bakery Cafe
718 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94607
Napoleon Super Bakery
810 Franklin St, Oakland, CA
Wonder Food Bakery
340 9th St, Oakland, CA