Happy Halloween! Or, as those of us who are allergic to commercial chocolate call it, the official beginning of the holiday season. That’s right, after tonight, we’ll be playing Mariah Carey and Wham! for the foreseeable future and eating large amounts of food. If you’re attending a holiday celebration this season, give up on making something complicated and instead pick up some Chinese bakery items! Bear and I will be stopping by Lung Moon Bakery to grab our favorites.
Lung Moon Bakery is an old Chinatown bakery that has all the staples: egg tarts, pineapple buns, etc. Located on Mulberry just south of Canal, it is just down the block from Wonton Noodle Garden and Tasty Dumpling. As with all things in Manhattan Chinatown, the closest subway stations are Canal Street on the 4, 5, 6, J, or Z trains, or Grand Street on the B or D trains. As usual, if you can make it to Manhattan Chinatown, you can make it to Lung Moon Bakery.
The inside looks like a typical bakery, with glass cases and all sorts of sweets and treats laid out. Lung Moon Bakery has a great variety in that they have a mix of both traditional homestyle Chinese sweets as well as the more popular bakery items such as Swiss cake rolls.
For my allergy crew, it is best to ask one of the bakery workers behind the counter about ingredients, as butter and nuts are common ingredients in a lot of the sweets. The advantage of visiting a Chinatown bakery is that many of the items are baked fresh in-house each morning, so it is likely that you will be able to narrow in on what you can and can’t eat. My personal favorites tend toward bok tong goh, a sweet steamed rice cake, and jian dui, a sesame ball filled with a sweet lotus paste. As always, double-check with your servers before you eat anything new!
Growing up in a large Chinese family, there was a lot of clamor and confusion surrounding holiday gatherings. Where do all the dishes go? Where are the children allowed to play? Who is arriving early? Who is arriving late? What time are we eating? But amidst all the chaos, the glory of holidays came in pink bakery boxes, hopefully filled with my favorite foods from Los Angeles Chinatown. Now that I am older and sometimes too far for family parties, I miss the excitement of discovering sachima— the Chinese Rice Krispies treat—and sugar butterflies wrapped in Styrofoam containers and plastic bags. Wherever you are headed this holiday season, whether it be a friends-giving potluck or an office cocktail party, stop by Lung Moon Bakery and enjoy the ancient tradition of feeding those you love with a box of sugary goodness.