Monday, March 14, 2011

My Little Bit of Asia

     There are hidden treasures everywhere in the world. Allston, MA seems to be where a lot of them go to rest. The best bubble tea place I have ever found (PC Cafe), the best all-around Asian food court for every kind of Asian food you could ever crave (Super 88), and of course: the best bun place. Well, let me qualify, the best bun place within walking distance of my house, so I'm not trying to compete with all of you who are actually in Asia or NYC Chinatown or something. Still, even when I have not made it to Super 88 for a full meal or been hungry enough for a bubble tea, I have bought and eaten buns from Yi Soon Bakery every single time I have been home since I left for college.

Buns buns buns...and my suitcase in the background as I leave Boston :( 
     I hope all of you have gotten to try Asian buns at least once. And I say Asian because I have had delicious buns from Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Singaporean bakeries (so far). Yi Soon itself is a Taiwanese bakery. Let me give you a tour of what their buns look like: (Yes, this is how many I buy on an ordinary day - have I also mentioned that most of these cost a dollar each and never more than...two dollars?)

     First, there are sweet buns. There is the chocolate cream bun (which I didn't get to photograph because my mom and brother were devouring it while I slaved away with the camera - and by slaving away with the camera I mean eating this bun pictured above). There are buns filled with red bean pasta and taro, and then there is this bun which is (I believe) called the Angel Cheese Bun? It looks kind of menacing up there, but don't trust appearances. It has the most unbelievably soft bun outside dusted with a powdered sugar, and it is filled with a thick, sweet, cheese-y cream (like a Danish) and some raisins (which must be soaked in some kind of alcohol and sugar). Oh, it is so goooood.

I didn't unwrap it because I saved it to eat on my bus home..
     Then, then are things that are buns and yet not buns, like the cake bun! Yes, it is a cake inside a bun. Doesn't that sound like it would be very heavy? It is not. It is the lightest fluffiest Japanese sponge cake (or Japanese cheesecake - it is so good...try it) inside a thin layer of bun, with a layer of jam in between. Deliciousness.

     This is not a bun at all! The bakeries have all sorts of other sweets. Cream puffs and cookies and delicious little tarts and cakes and these baby pancakes filled with cream. The pancakes, I'm pretty sure, are also made with the Japanese cheesecake batter because they are unbelievably soft and fluffy, and the cream is not too sweet and just melts in your mouth. I think I ate three out of four?

More food for the road (yes, I left one behind for my brother...I'm not that greedy....)
     And, last but not least, is my favorite bun. Can you believe it, it is not sweet! Miracle of miracles. This is the Scallion Pork Bun. I have never ever been to Yi Soon without buying it, and I'm sure I bought it the first time I was ever there. It is a genius creation. A flat "bun" dough is coated with sesame seeds and covered with sweet mayonnaise and scallions and itsy bitsy pieces of carrot and then rolled up and each side is coated with pork floss. Pork floss is...well, its very very thin pieces of pork that you could mistake for some kind of candy, maybe. Does that seem weird to you? It is not weird at all, believe me. It is delicious goodness. So good that once my friend and I went to the lengths of cutting it in half with a menu (we didn't have a knife, or a fork...) in order to not mar this bun's beauty.

     So, that was my ode to Yi Soon, best bun place I have ever known. I hope one day you get to go there or at least to an equivalent bun place in your own home town. In case you are wondering, tomorrow I will have a recipe for you! Yes, be excited. But for now, happy eatings!

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