The yatai ramen stand in Fukuoka was ridiculous. So aromatic, yet so raw in its flavors. I still remember how the salarymen queued up hungrily for the bowl. My crappy Japanese quickly gave way to Chinese when I heard the chef/owner berate his kohai in Mandarin. Service got just a bit better after that. Man, that was a great bowl!
More subtle in flavor, and definitely more egg-y.
“@Google_gourmet did you try any Hokkaido Cheese Tarts? F*in awesome!!!”
Never was much of a dessert or pastry guy, but starting to consume more sweets as alcohol intake trending more moderate.
SO reminds me we’ve seen cheese tarts at various times and places in Japan, but never yet tempted to partake. We’ll be in Okinawa next week, and she reminds me we had seen cheese tarts in Naha. Also sweet potato tarts that I must try now, because I’m kinda a tart kinda guy now. :).
This is a thing.
These look amazing!! I’ll actually be in Tokyo next week and one of the locations is right by my hotel. I’m headed to Singapore too so if i don’t try them in Tokyo, i’ll get them in Singapore.
Sitting in my hotel in Naha, waiting for a brief shower to blow over.
Just about to have an afternoon snack, and dang if it ain’t a cheese tart!! My SO tells me the Pablo Mini brand is quite popular in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other countries.
I had the original flavor single @ Yen 200, about USD $2.00. Verdict is a solid B+, very good. Like a marriage of a NY cheesecake and a dan taat. Heavier crust than a dan taat, but is needed to hold up to the more dense cheese filling.
Will try the other flavors in the future. Here in Okinawa, there is of course purple yam. And the ever trendy matcha. Told Pablo will custom bake to your preferred doneness if you buy the regular size.
With all of the great suggestions of other Portuguese Egg Tarts around L.A., it was time for an Egg Tart Journey!
Full disclosure: We’ve never tried Egg Tarts in Portugal, so I have no idea how authentic they are, or what they are supposed to taste like.
Portugal Imports is an interesting little shop, walking in it’s lined with groceries from Portugal (like a mini-mart), with Sardines and other items, and then they have the pastry case.
Nata de Belem:
They were sold out of the Nata de Belem when we arrived. However the cashier behind the counter noticed our disappointment, and kindly said she’d take a look in the back if they had more of the filling. She returned and said she did indeed have enough to make one for us, and she said she still had enough pastry shells already. We were excited.
However, then we saw her go to the freezer and take out a box of mass-manufactured pastry shells. I casually asked her if that’s the usual shell they use for all their pastries and she said, “Yes.” Oh well.
First we noticed how burnt the top was. The actual taste? It was really sweet and sugary compared to the Hong Kong Egg Tarts and the Macau Egg Tarts we’ve had over the years.
The crust was pretty disappointing, tasting rather mediocre compared to the flaky or cookie crusts from Macau / Hong Kong Egg Tarts we’ve had.
Amendoa (Puff Pastry Shell with Chopped Almonds):
We were expecting an Egg Custard Tart with Almonds on top (and perhaps some flavoring in the middle). While this looked like an “Egg Tart” it actually was a dense, thick, semi-hard-soft (like a chewy toffee) filling based on mashed Almonds, with more Almonds on top.
I love Almonds and Almond Butter, but this was just too thick and chewy and too sweet.
Queijada de Nata (Signature Pastry - Puff Pastry Shell with a Special Custard):
And finally we had their Queijada de Nata which they proudly display as their “Signature Pastry” and the cashier mentioned was their most popular item. This was thankfully less burnt than the Belem that we just had, but we also noticed all of their Pastries are served cold normally, which feels strange (compared to eating Hong Kong or Portuguese style Egg Tarts).
Taking a bite, it’s definitely like a Creme Brulee / Custard-like filling. A bit thick, but what was most off-putting was that it was way too sweet. This was probably the sweetest Egg Tart we’ve ever had. Ever. It bordered on saccharine.
There are a lot of fans of this place, so we’ll give it another try later, but at this point Portugal Imports was our least favorite Egg Tart so far.
11655 Artesia Boulevard
Artesia, CA 90701
Tel: (562) 809-7021
Natas Pastries was next on our list (almost like the “opposite corner” of L.A. all the way up in Sherman Oaks). Walking in, they are more of a Pastry and Restaurant Cafe compared to Portugal Imports.
Looking at the case, they have a massive selection of Pastries:
Bola de Berlin (Large House Donut, filled with Custard):
This was recommended by the manager, who said this was one of their specialties. Taking a bite, it’s apparent that their Bola is made fresh that day. It’s actually pretty light and airy, giving way to this decadent oozing Custard. It’s sweet, but still enjoyable.
However, after about 3 bites, I had enough. Note though, that I can’t eat a whole Donut (it’s just too much for me). One of my best friends finished her half with no problem.
Queijada (Pastry made with Ricotta Cheese, Cinnamon in Puff Pastry):
The manager recommended their Queijada as well, saying this was a popular Portuguese treat at her shop. Taking a bite, the Puff Pastry shatters (wonderful!), and gives way to a light, creamy filling. There is a note of Cinnamon, but it’s not too apparent, and the Frosting on top provides enough sweetness. It was a different type of Pastry than what we normally have.
Nata (Our Signature Pastry. Creme Brulee Custard in Puff Pastry):
And finally we got to their Portuguese Egg Tart, the Nata. First, it should be noted that if you order To Go, they provide it at room temperature, straight out of the case. The manager said that if you dine in, they will heat up the Nata for you (@TheCookie).
So since we dined in (there’s no minimum order, so you could probably just order an Egg Tart and grab a table), after a few minutes their Nata arrived warm-hot.
Taking a bite: It’s pleasing to have it warmed up, the Puff Pastry crust is flaky and shatters. The Creme Brulee filling is delicious! Warmed, custardy, but not too sweet (maybe ~50% of the sugary sweetness of Portugal Imports), and we both devoured our Egg Tarts.
They were so good, I bought a half dozen to share with my co-workers.
Tip: The manager recommended that we just pop the Egg Tarts in the oven at 300 degrees (it works in a toaster oven as well) for 5 minutes and then serve. I did that back at the office, and each of the 6 Nata Egg Tarts came out piping hot and perfect. My co-workers couldn’t stop raving about them.
Lastly, I asked the manager what time they bake their Egg Tarts (to see if we can stop in when they are fresh out of the oven). Sadly, she said that they are baked fresh, but around 5:00 a.m. or so, before the store opens, darn.
Natas Pastries was a pleasant surprise. While slightly pricier than usual Egg Tarts ($2.50), their Nata Portuguese Egg Tart (when served warm-hot) was definitely a step up from Portugal Imports and unique compared to the Hong Kong / Macau Egg Tarts that are more commonly found around town. We’ll be back to try more from their case and get more of their Nata (dining in) when we’re in the area.
13317 Ventura Blvd # D
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Tel: [(818) 788-8050
Our last stop on this journey, we stopped by what sounded like one of the most unlikely of places for an Egg Tart: Bronzed Aussie. Thanks to our favorite Blue Smiley Face (@ipsedixit), it seems this Australian Pie Specialist offered their own version of an Egg Tart(!). We were intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it.
First thing to note: Bronzed Aussie is unfortunately buried down a side alley off of Los Angeles Street, so it’s impossible to see from the street. I say “unfortunate,” because the shop itself looks like a cute hidden gem, and the Australian woman behind the counter (who seemed like the owner-manager?) was diligent, hard working and seemed like a nice person… but we were the only people who stopped by the entire time we were there (sad).
Tip: Call ahead and make sure they have the specific sweet or savory pie you’re looking for.
This was confirmed because when we stopped in, their front pastry case had 3 types of items and that was it (the rest was empty).
Custard Tart (Crunchy Pastry Crust Filled with Egg Custard.):
According to their menu, “The Custard Tart in Australia is legendary among cyclists as a reward for ascending a particularly steep mountain pass.” Interesting.
We asked our server-cook-manager (she was the only person working the entire cafe) if this Custard Tart was due to the Hong Kong / Chinese diaspora to Australia, but she said it was probably due to them originally being a British colony and the English Custard Tart.
At $3.50, this is the most expensive Egg / Custard Tart on this journey, however this was huge! This was easily the size of 2 - 3 standard Hong Kong Egg Tarts.
It is served chilled (the manager said that was tradition, and that if it was heated up the filling would just liquefy).
Taking a bite… it was like a slightly crumbly, crunchy Cookie crust, which yielded to a creamy, light, delicious chilled Custard center!
@ipsedixit was right: This is a delicious Custard Tart and a nice alternative to the Hong Kong / Macau Egg Tart. It does taste like you’re eating Creme Brulee more than a Custard or Egg Tart. It tasted nothing like the Hong Kong style version, nor like Portugal Imports or Natas Pastries. It wasn’t too sweet, and was quite tasty and refreshing chilled.
Thanks to all the FTC’ers for the great recommendations. I think we like the piping hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven Po Tarts (Macau Egg Tarts) at Jim’s Bakery the most (call ahead and see if they have a fresh batch, but failing that @raytamsgv @blimpbinge have recommended Saturdays after 12 Noon, or calling ahead to order in the morning for pickup). The Po Tarts piping hot from Jim’s are stunning, and only $1.25.
After that, or rather for a delicious alternate taste, try the Nata at Natas Pastries. Make sure to dine in, or bring it home quickly and reheat, and enjoy. Those were really delicious and more classic Custard in taste. Hearing @hungryhungryhippos describe the OG ones at Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon, Portugal and how much better they are from Natas Pastries makes us want to travel to Lisbon even sooner than before.
For a more Cookie-like version filled with a smooth, chilled Creme Brulee, the ones at Bronzed Aussie in Downtown are worth trying (and we wanna go back to try their savory Meat Pies which sounded delicious).
714 S. Los Angeles St. #A
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel: [(213) 243-0770
Gold’s God’s work again, there… Bravo!
No no! I’m sure our visit was just an off day. We’ll be back to give them another try. Thanks.
BTW, have you tried the Nata from Natas Pastries yet? Curious what you thought of those.
Or the ones fresh out of the oven at Jim’s Bakery in Monterey Park?
Nice reporting @Chowseeker1999, now you just need to try golden gate bakery straight out of the oven
Thanks @PorkyBelly. I so want to!
Seriously the last 4 times we’ve been to SF, every single time Golden Gate Bakery is “on vacation.” The first time we Ubered over and found out the hard way. Then @ipsedixit and others gave us that “Is Golden Gate Open” link (LOL), and sadly, yah, it’s never open.
A friend of mine who’s not really into food RAVED about them when they were in Portugal.
Love this report @Chowseeker1999.
You did Natas Pastries a solid! The best review I’ve seen about them. Seems to be the kind of place where you have to get the right things. With the menu being rather large it’s not always possible to get it right, resulting in their fair share of negative reviews.
A couple of things are starting to stand out since we’ve been discussing and trying to understand the Portuguese Egg Tart. They are sweeter, more caramelized, some might call burnt on top than the Hong Kong / Macau, also not necessarily made to eat warm - hence the 5am baking and heating only on request. This is okay, as it reminds me of eating meat filled Hand Pies growing up - good warmed, but mostly eaten right out of the case. Probably a habit from back in the day when meat pies were carried as a working man’s lunch, like a sandwich.
That Queijada looks a lot like Napoleons I used to eat in Boston interesting as there are a lot of Portuguese in MA.
…That would be me.
Great report. Now I’m off to read the Aussie Pie portion. TBC…
Golden Gate Bakery has a telephone number. Call before going. If nobody picks up then that’s your sign to not go over there. If they pick up you could ask if they expect to be open on a specific day. Not that hard
My hotel concierge has an “in” with GGB …
Thanks. Yah the website works pretty well now (Is GG open? site). It was just that first time that we had no idea and just stared at a locked up storefront.
But I think the issue is just that since we don’t live in SF, we’re not planning our trip around Golden Gate Bakery, so it was just bad luck the last 4 times we were in town, they were closed. Oh well. Next time maybe.
OK, tell the truth: They cook Egg Tarts for you on demand right? Lucky!