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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Egg Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery (San Francisco)

Where can you find the absolute best darn egg tarts in the Bay Area?

Egg Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco

 Egg Tarts from Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco

Custard pies are a favorite of mine. I also love mini custard pies, originating from Hong Kong, called egg tarts. You will often see them in Chinese bakeries and dim sum houses.

Growing up in Hawaii, we would go to dim sum restaurants every so often for breakfast. One of the things I would look forward to were the egg custard tarts for dessert. I was always excited when the dessert cart rolled by, and I begged my mom to pick out a plate. When we'd get to the end of the meal, I took my egg tart and devoured it in two seconds flat.

Fast forward a few years, and I discovered that Ruby's Bakery on Hotel Street in Honolulu's Chinatown made some pretty good egg tarts. I introduced the shop to Annie, and we'd stop in every so often whenever we were shopping for groceries in Chinatown.

Then we moved up to the Bay Area. We were walking along Grant Avenue on our first foray into San Francisco's Chinatown when we happened upon a long line of people waiting in front of this bakery. Annie asked someone why they were standing in line.

"Dan tat," they replied. "Egg tarts."

Magic words! We got in line.

Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco

After waiting an inordinate amount of time, we finally gained access to the store and placed our order. But they had just run out of egg tarts and were waiting for the next batch to come out of the ovens. It seemed like everyone else was getting egg tarts too, as no one was moving. We picked out some of their other baked goodies while we waited. Then the new batch of egg tarts came out, steaming hot.

"How many do you want?"

(I don't exactly remember, but since it was only the two of us, I think we only got 4 or 6 egg tarts. BIG MISTAKE.)

Egg Tarts From Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco

Egg Tarts From Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco

The smell was so heavenly! Sugary sweet, with a hint of vanilla, plus the aroma of freshly baked pie crust. We couldn't help ourselves. We untied the ribbon holding the box shut and ate the egg tarts hot out of the box.

Oh. My. God.

The egg tart was baked until just firm on top (not dried out or scorched). The custard was silky-smooth, with the perfect balance of sweetness. The tart's puff pastry crust was amazingly flaky, and crumbled easily to our bite.

Before we knew it, it was gone.

We didn't want to be pigs, so we took the remaining egg tarts back to the car. However, they didn't survive the trip back to San Jose. We had decided to keep them in a "safe" place - our tummies!

Egg Tart from Golden Gate Bakery, San Francisco

Egg Tart from Golden Gate Bakery, San Francisco

Now, whenever we make it up to San Francisco, we always make it a point to stop in at Golden Gate Bakery for egg tarts. When people find out we're going, they place an order with us. No more small, half-dozen size orders. We usually come home with at least 3 dozen!

The egg tarts from Golden Gate Bakery are not cheap. I think the last time we were there, we paid $1.15 each. But trust me, they're worth it! In my opinion, there is no egg tart in the Bay Area better than Golden Gate Bakery's egg tarts.

Tips on Getting Golden Gate Bakery Egg Tarts

I don't know about you, but nowadays we never go into San Francisco's Chinatown (the Grant Avenue one, not the Clement Street one) unless we've got a function there. I hate having to find parking around there. The only reason we go is for Golden Gate Bakery's egg tarts. So I usually drop Annie off in front of the store and go circling around. If the line is short, I make small circles. If it's long (like it usually is on weekends at midday), I make larger circles, or find some side street to park and wait for Annie's call. Sometimes the wait can be 45 minutes long!

One more thing we have to warn you about is that Golden Gate Bakery is so successful at selling egg tarts and other pastries, they can afford to shut down the store for a month at a time, usually (but not always) around Chinese New Year. I remember one time we stopped by after a long period of missing Golden Gate Bakery egg tarts, and we found they were closed. I was like, "NOOOOO! Why, God, why?!" (so dramatic, yah?) We ended up going to Eastern Bakery, but their egg tarts are nowhere near as good.


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Do you have a favorite place to get egg tarts? Leave us a comment and tell us where!

Aloha, Nate

Hungry for more baked goods? Click below:

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24 Comments:

K and S said...

yum, one of my favorites :) whenever I eat dim sum in Hawaii. Will put this place on my list of places to check out in SF :)

Anonymous said...

Having a problem. Is there a recipe for the egg tarts? I live in Miami.

Valentina said...

I have eaten some really lovely ones in Singapore. the one in the picture looks so creamy.very apetizing.

Eva said...

Yum! Totally agree with you about Golden Gate Bakery. Tasty!

_ts of [eatingclub] vancouver said...

"NOOOOO! Why, God, why?!"

LOL.

HoneyB said...

Is this like a little custard filled pie shell? It looks yummy!

Robert said...

Ah man, that is one great looking dan tat, and such a fine crust, not all pasty, thick and doughy. I will have to make a trip to try one of these. Dan tat are so tasty!

J said...

Lived there for 20-some-odd-years and never had one from GGB. Never even knew of its reputation for dan tats until I read it here. Yes, I lived in a cave.

I'm actually craving custard pie (no nutmeg!!). It was a childhood treat from a long defunct restaurant in Chinatown known for their custard pies and apple pies. Why bother with a dinky dan tat when you can have a whole pie?

Shayne said...

a 45 minutes wait those must be really good tarts. Time to try ro make them yourself for sure

Anonymous said...

The only place I can go to get them is in my kitchen! LOL

I have a recipe -- actually I use a combination of two, one for filling, one for crust -- that my dad translated for me. Not difficult, but you need to know how to make puff paste because the technique is the same.

Make a Roux said...

Hey, this reminds me of the custard tart we make back home. It's called Tarte a la Bouille.

BTW, I gave you guys an award! Pop by when you can and see. :) happy holidays!

JMom said...

I love Golden Gate Bakery! especially their moon pies. yummy! We used to go there everytime we visited my dad who used to live in SF.

We love egg tarts too and always order them at dim sum. Great photos!

Carolyn Jung said...

Oh my gawd, you're killing me _ killing me! _ with that photo. There's nothing more that I love than a custard tart that's still a little warm. It's the best part of going for dim sum _ at least in my book.

gaga said...

I love dan ta, especially the middle custard. They should sell crustless dan ta's =)

Jenster said...

The dan tats shown in your photos look perfect -- smooth custard filling, not too soft, not too hard, with flaky crusts. What I wouldn't give to be able to go to that bakery and pick up a dozen or two (or three).

Dan tats are the first thing my kids ask for when we get dim sum. The first time my blond-haired, blue-eyed husband asked for "dan tat" during dim sum service the waitress was so shocked I thought she was going to fall over her cart!

Rasa Malaysia said...

Man I love these so much used to line up for them while the cold wind of SF was blowing. Yikes. But they are good. I found a good ones in LA now though.

Chef Ben said...

I grew up loving dan tats too in Hawaii! And it's always good when it's piping hot! But I have to say, I'm lazy and don't like the crazy lines at Golden Gate. So I just treat myself whenever I go to get dim sum.

. said...

Every time I am in San Fran Golden Gate Bakery is on my MUST do list. Love the place. The egg tarts are pheomenal. I also really like their almond cookies. YUM

Nate-n-Annie said...

@all - thanks for the comments!

@Anonymous - sorry, we don't have a recipe for egg tarts. Someday, we may attempt it!

@HoneyB - yes, it's a little custard pie. Sometimes it uses a shortbread crust but I like the puff pastry type crust better.

@J - next time we go, would you like us to call you? ;-)

@Anonymous - I would be grateful if you shared your recipe!

@Make a Roux - thanks! I'll check out your site.

@Jenster - too funny!

@Rasa - do tell? Where?

@Chef Ben - everytime I eat an egg tart at a dim sum restaurant, I'm always left wanting the GGB tarts. Just gotta go at the right time on a weekday, I guess.

Mrs. L said...

Though it was more than 20 years ago I still remember my first egg tart. My boyfriend and I were exploring SF's Chinatown. We saw these little custard mini tarts in window and decided to buy a couple. One each. I was half way down the block before I tasted mine...I think I nearly passed out on the sidewalk they were so good. I immediately went back and ordered a dozen more. They are the first thing I go for if I find them anywhere.

Nate-n-Annie said...

@Mrs L - thanks for that great story!

Candy Spooner said...

Same thing happened to me while I was visiting San Fransisco. I stumbled on this bakery and wondered what's with the line. But I followed the classic advice that if there's a lot of people, the food must be good so I bought some. But I only bought 1 or 2 for myself and I felt I should have gotten more. They were the best!

零子 said...

I am an original Cantonese, and yes, this is the best egg tart so far - both the crust and the custard are perfect. I usually get them when I drive by and find there is almost no line (like 9 pm when they are almost closing), but if you don't live here in SF and can't wait for a good timing to get them, the long wait is well worth it.

Five said...

Very insightful and objective review. We love Golden Gate Bakery too! I cannot stop eating the tarts. Coincidentally we just wrote a review about them too. Check it out: http://digg.com/d31D0Iz