Monday, November 17, 2014

Restaurant review: Sweet Asian Bakery

There is a Sweet Asian Bakery on Park Street. That's not a description, that's the name: The Sweet Asian Bakery.

While the Sweet Asian Bakery indeed has a swath of delicious Asian style baked items it's a lot more then that. They have a full breakfast and lunch menu. I am a big fan of Chinese breakfast: rice porridge, noodles, and Chinese doughnuts all washed down with some sweet milk tea. Ever since the Hong Kong Wok in The Hilldale Mall closed Madison has been sorely lacking a good place for Chinese breakfast.

Congee is a very simple dish with very few ingredients. But like all dishes which are this simple, the devil is in the details. Rice is slowly simmered in water or broth until it nearly dissolves into the broth. You broth can quickly become over salted in this process as the water reduces out. The rice can become overcooked and fall apart forming more glue then porridge. You want to still be able to see individual grains but you don't want the rice to have too much texture. At the last minute green onions, and in this case, white fish is added. Both of these items can quickly overcook so they must be added in once it's ordered.

I like to dip Chinese doughnuts into the porridge as I'm eating it. These are very light sticks of dough which have been fried. Calling them doughnuts is a bit like calling a french fry a doughnut just because it's fried. There is no sweet component to a Chinese doughnut. They are savory and taste great dripping with congee.

Salt and Pepper Prawns are absolutely delightful. A bit on the salty side, but it brings out all of the flavors in the prawns. Since these are so well fried you can actually eat the whole thing shell, head and all. This is exactly how I would suggest eating them. The tail fin can be discarded or not. The flavorful and extremely light batter is infused with Szechuan peppercorns and a mix of secret spices.

Their noodle soup is decent offering several different types of noodles from Chinese egg noodles, to rice and fresh rice (wide noodle) varieties. The broth is a chicken based broth with several different options for meat and other toppings. Nothing too special here but a solid bowl of hot soup and noodles, perfect for a far too early winter.

The baked goods are decent, and standard for a Chinese bakery, fried sesame balls, egg custards, BBQ pork buns, sausages in dough, little turnovers etc. With almost everything priced at $0.99 you can easily get a platter of interesting delights without breaking the bank everything should be tried. Since the place is tiny, and I mean TINY, there are 3 tables. While it's often possible to sit, this place is best for take out.

My only wish is that Sweet Asian Bakery starts buying their BBQ Pork from Hong Kong Station on Regent St., who hand makes the best BBQ pork in the Midwest! From my blog to Ken Yan's ears...

Rating: *** 3 stars
Cost: $

1017 S Park St 
Madison, WI 53715 

 (608) 665-3988 
Tue-Sun 9:00 am - 7:00 pm


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