Growing up in the Greater Boston area, my family would make frequent stops to Boston's Chinatown for the Chinese grocery stores, the dim sum, and my favorite — the Asian bakeries.
Harrison Ave., specifically the area between Essex and Beach St., is home to many of the bakeries we'd frequent. Freshly baked egg tarts, sweet bao, roast pork buns; inexpensive and equally delicious. We'd eat them as a snack or a small meal, and I loved them all. And when I went away to college I would crave the pastries; each filled with a sweet cream, and wonderful memories.
These places are a preserved, and hidden treasure in Boston. Below is a list of some of the best Asian bakeries I've found on Harrison Ave.
1. Eldo Cake House
Known for their light fruit cakes, Eldo Cake House is your go to for a Hong Kong-style treats. As a kid, my family often bought cakes here for special occasions. I recommend the pineapple bun, a lighter option with a fluffy and chewy consistency, but also packing a nice crunch. (Note: Traditional pineapple buns contain no pineapple but get their name from the sweet and crunchy checkered top that resembles the skin of a pineapple.)
Other delicious bites include the pork buns, the lemon Swiss rolls, sponge cakes, and the coconut mochi balls.
And when I'm craving something savory, or looking for a unique breakfast, I like to order the plain steamed rice noodles. They're similar to what you'd find at a dim sum restaurant, come with either shrimp or beef.
Eldo Cake House - 36 Harrison Ave., Chinatown, 617-350-7977, facebook.com/eldocakehouse
2. Beard Papa’s
Across from Eldo’s is Beard Papa’s, a small, yet modern Japanese bakery that offers up a unique make-your-own-pastry experience. It's truly one of Chinatown’s gems.
You can choose from several shell options, like éclair, Paris Brest, and Dolce de Leche, along with your favorite filling — original vanilla cream, green tea, or flavor of the day. My favorite combo? The éclair with a decadent matcha filling. It's a pleasant balance of sweet and refreshing; a perfect afternoon snack.
Pro Tip: Beard Papa’s is next to the popular Chatime — a perfect opportunity to grab some bubble tea to enjoy with your treat.
Beard Papa’s - 31 Harrison Ave. Unit A, Chinatown, 857-263-7169, facebook.com/beardpapas
3. Bao Bao Bakery & Cafe
Bao Bao Bakery & Café(Bao Bao) is an innovative and fun place with a great variety of sweet buns, delicious drinks, and cute cakes like the lychee fruit mousse cake shaped like a cat.
Think that's fun? Try the unicorn macaroons.
The bakery is one of the newest editions to the Harrison Ave. family and the only one that's open until 11pm, and connected to Double Chin, an Asian Fusion style café that's open to 4am; catering to the late night crowd.
Bao Bao Bakery & Café - 84 Harrison Ave., Chinatown, 617-988-8191, facebook.com/baobao
4. May’s Cake House
Near the end of Harrison Ave. — located by the Tufts Medical Campus and Hospital — is May’s Cake House. It's a small shop with all of the kinds of sweet and savory buns that you can possibly imagine.
The roasted pork bun, the ham & egg bun, the hot dog bun, the red bean bun, the pineapple bun — equally delicious and all around a dollar a piece. I also enjoy the soft and delicate mango mousse cake. It's a sweet and satisfying pre-lunch snack.
This place is a local favorite, and known for its low prices and big taste. (Note: May’s Cake House is cash only.)
May’s Cake House - 223 Harrison Ave., Chinatown, 617-350-0210