Egg Custard Tart: A San Francisco Treat

Egg custard tarts, pronounced “don tat” in Chinese is a favorite of mine. Most often I enjoy some at the end of a dim sum meal at a tea house. The pastry shells are filled with a creamy sweet egg custard. They come in different sizes; and kids and grown ups love them.

Chinese bakeries are also a place you can find egg custard tarts. Every bakery makes them a little different. Some bakeries make them with a firmer custard and some make them with a softer, creamier custard. Some shells are made with a cookie or pie crust while others are made with a flakier pastry like crust.

Where can you get the best egg custard tarts? Of course, it would be in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Golden Gate Bakery almost always has a long line down Grant Avenue. What are the customers waiting for? Of course, it is for the hot out of the oven egg custard tarts.

I have heard of people making the trek out to Golden Gate Bakery only to find it closed. Yes, the bakery does occasionally close for a month at a time for vacation. For their successful business, they can! I just discovered a website that you can check to make sure they are open.

I don’t tend to go to Golden Gate Bakery very often because I don’t want to wait in a line that can take up to 45 minutes and the prices seem to go up a lot. I picked some up recently about thirty minutes before they were closing to find no line. Although I didn’t get them hot out of the oven, they were still slightly warm. I bought one to eat right away and had the others boxed up to share with the family. These had a flakey crust with a silken custard that was sweet and buttery. My mom thinks I am crazy to spend $1.35 per tart, because she can probably get 3 for that price elsewhere. I would spend more than that for a cookie at an American bakery, so it’s worth it to me.
With no line, I asked the owner in Chinese “How many don tats do you sell a day?”. She told me she can’t keep track because they have to make them so fast. She welcomed me to come on my day off to count! She made me laugh and the don tats made me smile.