Home News Famous egg custard cake builds reputation of San Francisco’s Chinatown bakery

Famous egg custard cake builds reputation of San Francisco’s Chinatown bakery

by Celia

The Golden Gate Bakery, nestled in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is renowned for its delectable egg custard tarts, known locally as dan-tat. However, for many, the challenge lies in determining whether and when the bakery is open.

The enigma begins with the facade of the establishment on Grant Avenue, which often appears abandoned, adorned with bars, plywood, and graffiti.

Determining the bakery’s operational status often relies on the presence of a queue of patrons outside its unassuming entrance. Within, customers are greeted by Virginia Woo, who manages orders and serves fresh custard tarts to those willing to wait, sometimes for up to an hour.

Tim Delgado Maclino, a food influencer and tour guide in San Francisco’s Chinatown, embarked on a quest to uncover the bakery’s allure. His first attempt, on a random Tuesday, led him to discover a note on the door indicating an opening time of 1:00 p.m.

“It’s interesting how they operate like this. It’s all boarded up, with the gate, graffiti, and the door resembling a kiosk,” remarked Macalino. “It’s like a mystery box that you have to open up to see what’s inside.”

During the pandemic, when many businesses faced closures, there were concerns that Golden Gate Bakery had met a similar fate. However, the bakery quietly resumed operations last fall, initially selling mooncakes before reintroducing their famed egg custard tarts this year.

Virginia Woo shed light on the bakery’s unconventional setup, explaining, “It’s too hard to move the wood (plywood boards) every day. They break out windows, and it costs more to fix them.” She emphasized that despite appearances, Chinatown is safe for visitors, but operating through a small door is more convenient than opening the entire storefront.

Regarding the irregular business hours, a Facebook page titled “IstheGoldenGateBakeryOpenToday” attempts to track store hours. According to Virginia, the bakery’s availability depends on the bakers’ schedules. “We are trying to open for as long as we can, but it all depends on the bakers,” she stated.

Longtime patrons waiting in line acknowledged the bakery’s unpredictable schedule as part of its charm. “Sometimes they disappear because they want to, then they just open up,” one customer noted. “It adds to the mystery of the place; it makes it more desirable.”

Despite the uncertainty, Tim Macalino offered a glowing review of the bakery’s treats. “I think they are beautiful. That crust is so good, and the custard is eggy, fluffy, and dreamy and not too sweet,” he praised. “Definitely Top 3 in San Francisco, and worth the wait.”

For those willing to navigate the uncertainty, the Golden Gate Bakery offers a delectable taste of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

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