The distinction between pastry and sandwich (and between lunch and desert) is blurry at Sheng Kee Bakery, found in the Pacific East Mall. The tiny shop is packed full of dozens of ornate baos (a kind of traditional Chinese bun) and pastries which are both sweet and savory. If properly scouted, it’s possible to create your own diverse, full meal from Sheng Kee’s assortment of treats.
Here’s a helpful walkthrough of some of the more delectable items on their menu to make sure you hit all the right food groups.
A Sugary Start: Coconut Balls
These tiny little pastry balls are the perfect snack to whet your appetite for the dim sum-like experience of diving into a meal made entirely of different pastries. Golden-brown and bite-sized, these pastries are crispy on the outside and rich with coconut texture on the inside. Have a few to start your meal, but don’t ruin your appetite; many pastries remain before the meal is over.
Sweet Turns Savory: Shredded Pork Onion Buns
A little messy and stuffed to the brim with pork, the shredded pork onion buns present surprisingly complex flavor and texture. This is a good entry into lunch-bun territory. The bread of the bun is light enough to not fill you up with carbs, while the well-seasoned pork adds much-needed, substantial protein to the meal. If one of these isn’t enough pork for you, try out the traditional Shredded Pork Bun. This second variety of bao comes individually wrapped and is packed with pork on the inside and dusted with the shredded meat on the outside.
Eat Your Veggies: Fresh Veggie Bread
It’s hard to tell where the cheese ends and the bread begins on this one. The fresh veggie bread appears to be more cheese- and veggie-topped crostini than pastry, and it feels a little out of place in this distinctly Chinese bakery, but it’s a welcome addition to any lunch of pastry snacks. Somewhere beneath the cheese lies enough broccoli and tomato that you’ll feel a little better about consuming so many carbs in a single meal. After all, vegetables are healthy, right?
Time for Dessert: Summer Romance
Cheng Kee’s Summer Romance isn’t the conventional sort of romance, but it’s no less delicious for it. This specialty pastry is made of blueberry jam and cream cheese surrounded by a fluffy halo of dough. It takes two hands to eat, and you’re going to need a few napkins at hand. The sweet and savory filling comes rushing out upon biting into the dough, and it can make a bit of a mess. But as far as novelty desserts go, this is a good one.
The dozens of freshly-baked goods available Sheng Kee Bakery range from the familiar to the bizarre, depending on your familiarity with Chinese pastries. But trying something new is half the fun at this little shop, where variety is key and there’s always enough to go around.
Sheng Kee Bakery
Pacific East Mall, 3288 Pierce Street, Richmond
Tel. (510) 558-8807
Monday - Sunday: 9 am to 9 pm