Just the other week I stumbled upon the most wonderful type of bao I could ever hope to imagine. My roommate brought back this thing that looks like a flatten baked Chinese bun with a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top. I looked at her, disappointedly and accused, “you smashed the bun!!!” “Nononono, eat it,” she says, clearly satisfied with her gift. I peeled open the plastic wrap and removed the round flat object and bit in. And oh lordy my, what did I find? Hidden between soft yeasty bread were alternating layers of mochi and sweetened smashed azuki beans. Red beans in bread I’ve had, mochi I’ve had – but the two together? Never! I was in luuvvv!!! I thought to pause between bites and take a photo, but it was very good, too good in fact, for me to take the time and whip out my camera. But I will take a picture next time, you have my promise.
So enamored I was but this mochi/bean bun that when my friend Cindy went out to Rowland Heights the next evening, she brought back the same bun made by a different bakery. That’s what you see above.
This one was puffy, unlike the first and the mochi/azuki bean balance was off, resulting in a disappointingly thin layer of mochi with gobs of mashed beans. The bread was also dry and failed to embrace the fillings, leaving a lonely unfilled gap between dough and bean.
Well the next week, Cindy came to my room bearing yet another bun! This one was from I Fu Tang Bakery, also in Rowland Heights. Instead of the typical azuki bean filling, this one held treasure trove of mashed sweet taro. The layers of mochi here wrapped around the taro so that you got a good chewy bit at the top of the bun as well as the bottom.
But the real highlight of the bun was its crust. Look. Look carefully. You see how it’s swirled a bit? And looks the slightest bit crispy in creamy way, dare I even say, brushed with a bit of sugar and broiled? Yes and Yes. It reminded me so much of the top on Panya’s Hokkaido bread, sweet and crusty, like the best part of a muffin and the end of fine baguette. After the first bite, I hurriedly stuck it in the toaster to crisp up a bit. It was the best thing I ever did to that bun. The mochi inside got all gooey and melty, embracing the warm smother of mashed taro. Quite decadent as far as Chinese buns go, these mochi wonders have the exxxxtra oomph that keeps you endlessly hunting for more of their breed.
8455 E Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
I Fu Tang Bakery
1380 Fullerton Rd Ste 101
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Established in 2005, International Tea Day brings awareness to the tea workers’ contributions to the tea world and their working conditions. It has been observed annually on December 15. However, starting in 2020 it will take place on May 21. But, how exactly should one recognize it? Well, if you’re a business owner I would steer away from using this day as just another marketing opportunity. As someone in the marketing industry, I wanted to offer some other options that businesses, tea related or not, can take into consideration if they would like to honour International Tea Day.
I’ve been updating a spreadsheet on pu’erh prices on release for the past few years in order to get an idea of tea being offered to western consumers and any possible trends. The well-known popular narrative is that fresh pu’erh prices have gone up and this certainly seems true in the data. Last year the prices looked about the same as the previous year. And when and how much the price has gone up depends on how we look at this and there’s a handful of different ways to look at the data and options available (I do three here).