The chinese donut comes in two main forms, salty or sweet. The salty version which is admittedly quite bland, however paired with a bowl of congee and you’ve just leveled up your Chinese donut game creating a classic comfort food combo. Long sticks of fried dough, the Chinese donut is visually unique with the flavour to match.
The sweet version is traditionally oval shaped, with a crispy golden crust and sweet doughy interior. Eaten on its own or paired with congee as well, the sweet Chinese donut can be found in bakeries or your favourite cafe such as Double Double in Richmond.
Famous for their fresh, made from scratch Chinese donuts, Double Double is a no frills cafe located in a Richmond strip mall. Sharing a table with some strangers, also known as “daap toi” in Cantonese we try the various Chinese donuts from salty, to sweet, to even a version wrapped in a steamed rice roll.
In exploring another fried dough alternative from a different culture, we visit Dhaliwal sweets on Vancouver’s Fraser St. The owners share a sampling of sweets, highlighting Gulab Jamun a sweet fried dough which comes in the form of small circular balls. We also try the Indian sweet favourite, Julabi, a bright orange swirl which is also fried and similar to an Indian version of a funnel cake.
To cap off the episode, we have to visit a classic donut establishment, so we head to none other than Duffins donuts. Growing up in East Vancouver, Derek remembers the original Duffins location on Main and 33rd, vividly describing the tight packed parking lot and the group of Chinese chess playing fellows who were always on the picnic tables outside the entrance. We chat with the original owners of Duffins and discuss why many Cambodian’s started donut businesses in North America.
Juno Award nominee's Manila Grey call Duffin's Donuts a local stomping ground. 👉
The famous “Char Siu Bao”, you’ve probably heard that name before. The BBQ pork bun is a unique blend of sweet and savoury all packed within a light fluffy bun. Popularly ordered at dim sum or bakeries alike, the bbq pork bun combines everything you need in a meal all within a bun.
We visit Sun Fresh Bakery in Chinatown to experience two variations of BBQ Pork Buns. The first in the form of the classic steamed bun, white and fluffy with a signature bbq pork filling. Second in the Chinese bakery version with a golden brown bun exterior and same bbq porn filling. We chat with the owners about the changing landscape of Vancouver’s Chinatown, what they’ve seen over the years, and what they hope for in the future.
On Victoria Drive in Vancouver, Banh Mi Saigon is a family run Vietnamese sandwich shop operated by two brothers. Baking fresh baguettes daily, one of their hidden gem items is the Pate Chaud. A flaky Vietnamese puff pastry stuffed with pork which is usually sold out daily. One of the brothers tells the family story and shares why they decided to share their take on the banh mi with the Vancouver community.
"The one with all the meat inside."
Lastly, we head to Surrey and visit Golden Samosa Bakery. We experience all different combos of meat inside a pastry through the Indian classic, Samosa. We bring some selections of Chinese baked goods in BBQ Pork Buns, Beef Curry Buns, and fried Taro Pastries for the owners to try. We chat about the similarities and differences between the Chinese baked goods with meat samosas, and potato samosas. And lastly discuss the intricacies of Indian baking/cooking methods based on the regions of India and how they’ve translated to the flavours available here in Greater Vancouver.
Taro Puff 👇
👆 Pork Turnover
You’re hard pressed to grow up in Vancouver and not have experienced one of these Chinese bakery-style cakes. Whether at a birthday party or other celebration, as a Chinese kid growing up, we seem to all have had one of these cakes at one point in time. Filled and topped with assorted fruit such as strawberries, mango, cantaloupe, honeydew, and kiwi, the cake is capped off with a slightly sweet cream frosting and structured with a fluffy light sponge.
Nowadays, anytime I have the privilege of treating myself to a slice it’s an instant flavour burst of nostalgia. We visit Pine House Bakery and witness the making of one of these classic cakes. We talk to the head baker about where he learned these techniques for baking. And also discuss why these cakes seem to be the standard at Chinese bakeries all around Greater Vancouver and where the origins of the cake came from.
An ode to their late grandmother, Aling Mary’s is a Filipino bake shop operating out of Surrey and Vancouver. We stop by their flagship location in Surrey and hear from the family about the history and origins of their bakery which has been operating in the lower mainland since 1996. Baked fresh and swooped up early mornings daily is their pandesal bread. A fluffy and versatile Filipino bun that can be eaten plain with a bit of butter or also spruced up and filled like a sandwich with your choice of meat or even eggs. However, the highlight of dessert and staying on theme to this episode, the family shares their special Ube Cake with us. A bright and deep purple, this cake is a total eye catcher and has the taste to match. We talk about the prominence of ube in Filipino flavours and also talk about the rise in popularity of Filipino food and why it’s taken this long to be part of the culinary conversation in Vancouver.
To cap off the series we make our way to Panaderia Latina Bakery on Vancouver’s Joyce street. In the culmination of all our Chinese baked goods that we examined throughout the series, we take a look at their Latin counterparts. We experience a spread of colourful Concha buns, to savoury Empanadas, sugar dusted Pan de Muertos, and a decadent Dulce de Leche Cake. We celebrate the diversity of flavours we are so lucky to be able to experience in Greater Vancouver and reminisce about all the human stories we were able to share and experience throughout the series.