Actually Mrs. Chandavkl and I both are scratching our heads as to why the lines at Golden Gate Bakery remain so long years after the original chef died several years ago and took the recipe with him. The current version seems more like a Western custard pie than an egg tart. If there is a secret to getting the tarts at Golden Gate Bakery, it’s to get there when they open. I have a routine in SF where I go to work downtown but stay in Chinatown and do a mile walking commute every morning, passing Golden Gate Bakery. For the longest time, I would pass the bakery, and not seeing any line, assume that the egg tarts weren’t ready yet. However, as it turns out, as long as they are open, they have egg tarts.
We were in Lisbon a couple of months ago and had the Belem natas. Indescribably delicious.
I’ve only managed to catch GGB open for business on my 4th visit to them (and that’s because they had posted a note on the door as to when they would reopen when I was there on my 3rd visit). Many times there would be signs stating that they’re on vacation or what not. I think the word of mouth and the Yelp reviews about how hard it was for some to get them possibly made them more desirous. I’ve had friends who have posted on FB their failed attempts at getting some of their egg custard tarts.
Once I’ve had them, and although I enjoyed them, I don’t feel the need to rush back the next time I’m in SF.
I’ve been going there now for something like 15 years now. And just personally I prefer the newer version of the tart to the original ones. Maybe I’m hopeless but each time I go I think the tarts are better than before. Must be the meth in them. Not that I would turn down a version from 20 years ago, of course.
My memory is hazy of prior to the original chef passing away, but they say the main difference is in the puff pastry recipe (many more layers in the original). The current recipe of the crust is different, and feels like a cross between the HK style old school puff pastry with a little bit of a cookie dough feel if that makes any sense. For me the center yolk filling is still golden, and the reason I would still go back and has stayed consistent since the 90s. The yolk is sweetened just right to my liking and you still taste incredible eggy goodness. Gudetama died with honor for GGB.
The best for me was going close to 7 pm prior to a dinner at Quince, no line and they were still fresh out of the oven. Had to eat once right there and then, of course.
The bigger difference these days is that GGB used to carry a wider assortment of regular HK style bakery baked goods like pineapple bun of their famous “French bun” but they don’t anymore because everyone and their (insert family member here) only come mostly for the signature. You’d be lucky if you can still get a banana mochi roll thing, and super lucky if you manage to get their fermented white sugar cake which is so far the best in town but still lacks the tart/acidity balance compared to run of the mill places in Hong Kong. Their “sachima” I wonder how much of that they sell, and I’m not a fan of their baked apple puffs. Used to love their butter walnut pound cake, but these days I keep the quota where it counts (the egg tarts).
Bottom line, nothing more to understand or comprehend if you don’t like GGB egg tarts. They are popular, and the center yolk is still awesomely well balanced in flavor and mouthfeel, nobody comes close. It was still superior to the one I had at Honolulu Cafe/Coffee and Bakery (Hong Kong) which is not saying a whole lot. If you are willing to brave the wait, then you are ready for 1.5 to 2 hour waits for ramen and boba imports in the South Bay.