Chinese food – but not as we know it!
What picture do we conjure up when we think of a Sunday morning in Chinatown in London? For most of us it’s steaming plates of noodles, perhaps succulent dim sum or richly lacquered duck hanging like mahogany curios in shop windows!
An equally correct view would be of queues of local Chinese and me outside the Golden Gate Cake Shop (Macclesfield Street, off Gerrard Street).
It’s true that most people don’t readily associate cakes and pastries with the Chinese community but there are several colourful patisseries in the small area of Soho each with a display of over-colourful cream gateaux. Don’t be put off by these gaudy offerings but squeeze into the tight confines of the establishment a look at what most people crave. BUNS!
Char Siu Pork with a thick sauce
My favourite bun is Roast Pork and probably the most popular with the more regular clients. It, and indeed most of the buns, are a brioche type of bread with various fillings and toppings being either savoury or sweet. The Roast Pork has a filling, and quite a generous one, of Char Siu Pork with a thick sauce which makes an interesting contrast to the light sweet dough.
It’s always necessary to buy 2 (at least 2) buns. It’s not greed, you understand, but a desire to immerse myself in the oriental philosophy of yin and yang. I am convinced that a brace of pastries is a prescription for balance and contentment. Ok, OK, so I just like the taste! For my second choice I’d have a coconut cream filled confection, not oversweet but scrumptious to the last crumb or even a fresh custard tart which is, for me, a surprising Chinese passion.
The Golden Gate is one of the more accessible pastry shops in Chinatown as it’s self-service. This is the deal – you find a stack of small trays and tongs by the door. The small shop is half filled with heated racks and shelves of sweet and savoury breads with name tags in Chinese and English. Just make your selection and the kind lady behind the counter will box or bag your treats. Prices range from 60p to £1 so you can indulge yourself!
So next time you visit Soho, try something different, authentic and fun.
I wish you all a belated happy year of the rat! “Gong Xi Fa Cai” to all!