GOOD MONG KOK BAKERY IN CHINATOWN...A LINE MEANS IT'S GOOD, RIGHT?
It seems I'm on a dim sum kick this week, but it's merely coincidence (riiight). Me and the SO were out and about on a random Sunday and decided to grab a quick dim sum bite in Chinatown while we waited for a MUNI bus to mysteriously appear. We walked through that tunnel up Stockton street into what I like to call the "real Chinatown" with all it's grocery stores teeming with people on a daily basis. We weren't looking for any specific dim sum place, we figured we would just venture in to whichever one we came across first. That lead us to Good Mong Kok Bakery. I can't say I hadn't heard about this place before. I'd seen lines out the door at this place on any number of occasions and seen some decent reviews online to boot. I think it is one of those spots that gets good tourist write ups which leads to lines and leads those of us who live here to find someplace else. Since we didn't have any particular place to be we decided to brave what looked like a relatively small line/wait and see what all the fuss was about.
Whenever I go into one of these places I make sure I have an idea of what I want. Usually the ladies working the counters have been there all day and have no patience for your foolishness or indecision. It is always to best to order, pay and go as quickly as you can, there is a line after all and other folks want to get in. The menu hanging inside on the wall is HUGE and me and the SO could see it from outside, so we were able to make our choices beforehand.
A baked bbq pork bun for $1.20, 3 shrimp dumpling for $2.10 and 3 pork shu mai for $2.10. That's one of the beauties of dim sum, if you don't mind all the bread and carb things, you can get a filling meal for less than a round trip ride on BART. As with the dim sum at Kingdom of Dumplings, I found myself wondering what makes any one dim sum better than others? The SO couldn't really tell me, if it tastes good that's all that really matters. And in a way that's true. The bun part of the baked bun I liked. It always reminds me of Hawaiian bread rolls, fluffy, bready and just a little sweet. The bbq pork inside is also sweet, but no more so than any other I've had. For me sometimes, the pork inside has this flavor that is slightly off. It's either the five spice or the yellow miso that is used in making it. I'm going with the miso, it's not a flavor I'm a fan of and if there is too much of it, it throws my taste buds off. It's why I don't do miso soup. This, then, gets into personal taste and the SO thought it was very tasty. Surprisingly the shrimp dumpling had huge pieces of shrimp inside, more than I was expecting. The rice flour covering wasn't sticky or gummy and considering how much this place goes through, I think it helps keep the offerings continually fresh made. Same with the shu mai. Nice chunks of meat and filling, steamed perfectly and while we didn't have any soy sauce for dipping, I don't think either one necessarily needed it. They were tasty enough on their own.
Which brings us to this thing. It was in the window and me and the SO were intrigued by it, and at only $1.40, why not give it a try. I think we thought it might be some kind of sweet thing, but in fact, this was merely deep fried bread. Normally, I'm all about anything that is deep fried. Here, however, this really could have used some kind of filling, topping, coating, anything. It quite literally had no flavor except that of the oil it was cooked in, which made me think their oil needed to be changed. Had this been coated in sugar or cinnamon (like an Asian churro) or had a custard filling I'd been keen on recommending this, but as is, it's better to get something else, preferably with meat in it.
Is this great dim sum? Eh, I'm not sure I'm truly able to judge that since I don't really taste much difference from one place to the next. I think one thing Good Mong Kok has going for it is the rapid turn over of product. This alone will keep freshly cooked items steaming through, allowing you to get a nice hot one most every time. Should you seek this one out specifically if you are in Chinatown? Maybe, if the line is short, as it doesn't move that quickly. I'd suggest getting some from a few different places since there is pretty much a bakery dim sum place on every corner in Chinatown. That way you get a cross section of what's on offer and then can judge for yourself if one is truly better than the other. I will say this is the only time I'll will probably ever tell you not to get something that is deep fried and not even butter could help it. Just typing that was painful. I think I need to take a lie down now to recover.