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- India Food & Spices
- Japonaise Bakery
- Kam Lung Bakery
- Mix Bakery
- Seoul Bakery

The display cases in Boston's Chinatown bakeries are filled with items mysterious to the Western eye and palate. Chinese pastries tend to be less sweet than American and use ingredients such as rice flour, red beans, and chopped ham. The following two bakeries were selected because they offer a wide selection of representative pastries and their owners speak English fluently. Both places also make a variety of savory dim sum items.

Mix Bakery, 36 Beach St., Boston. 617-357-4050. Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The owners are from Hong Kong, so a popular item is a Western-style birthday cake made of sponge cake layered with sliced fruit and whipped cream. If you want traditional Chinese sweets, these two items have been made in China for centuries.

Melon cake: A flat, sweet, flaky pastry filled with winter melon and sesame seeds, popularly given as wedding gifts by the groom's family to the bride's family.

Red bean pastry: Shaped either round or as a roll, these pastries are made with flour and a syrup similar to corn syrup and filled with sweet red bean paste.

Kam Lung Bakery, 77 Harrison Ave., Boston. 617-542-2229. Daily 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Specialties include:

Nut cake: A sweet pastry filled with peanuts, Chinese bean curd, and sesame, with raised decoration.

Almond paste cookie: A small, yellow, round cookie with a sandy texture and a nutty, slightly sweet flavor.


India Food & Spices, 80 River St., Cambridge. 617-497-6144. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sun. noon-8 p.m.

Indian desserts tend to be milk-based, candy-like, and served in small portions. Milk is boiled down until thick - or thickened with lemon juice - and then kneaded and sweetened. The favored spice is cardamom. Several desserts also use chickpea flour, called besan, which gives them a nutty flavor and sandy texture. Specialties include:

Keermohn: A small, dense, cake-like oval filled with a thin layer of sweet cheese. It is deep-fried in ghee (clarified butter) and soaked in sugar syrup.

Pista burfi: A fudge-like confection, made from milk that is slowly evaporated. Flavored with cardamom and chopped pistachios.

Fani Patasa: A tall, conical sweet with a flat top. Milk-based with flour and sugar, it's cooked in such a way as to give it a texture almost like spun sugar.


Japonaise Bakery, 1020 Beacon St., Brookline. 617-566-7730. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Additional locations: Cambridge, Lexington.

Owner Hiroko Sakan notes that bakeries in Japan tend to be European-style. The French element in the bakery's name reflects many of the items here: thin sponge cake layered with flavored mousse, croissants, and breads, for example. Specialties include:

Azuki cream: A flaky, buttery spherical pastry filled with a layer of sweetened azuki (red bean) paste and whipped cream.

Japonaise: Green tea genoise (sponge cake) topped with green-tea mousse.

Melon an: A sweet roll topped with a crispy coating subtly seasoned with melon.


Seoul Bakery, 56-58 Harvard Ave., Allston. 617-787-6500. Mon.-Sat. 7:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Jung Ja and Duk Chil Kim moved here from New Jersey a year ago to open Boston's first Korean bakery. Korean pastries use rice flour and different beans, including white and red, slightly sweetened. Specialties include:

Rice powder doughnut: A rice flour oval with a red bean filling, deep-fried, and sprinkled with sugar, slightly chewy texture.

White bean cookie cake: A palm-sized round pastry formed with a point to resemble a chestnut; made from white beans and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Cookie bread: A yeast roll, round, with a baked crunchy topping that includes ground peanuts.

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