Most bakeries, as a matter of fact, are making truly terrible Western-style cakes. Take, for example, a four-layer mango mousse cake with flavored whipped cream, mousse, sponge cake, and melon balls. The person behind the counter will take this exquisite-looking confection and toss it in a paper bag. When you get home, expecting the thing to be destroyed, you'll be shocked to find that the cake is still pristine, with not a melon ball out of place. If you pick it up and squeeze it, or take a bite, you'll soon discover that it is indestructible and doesn't even seem to be made of organic—and I mean that in the broadest possible sense—ingredients.

Fay Da is the one exception. Its Western-style pastries and cakes are quite good—not on a Balthazar level, but well worth trying. The chocolate cake is particularly excellent; the mango mousse cake is fluffy and tastes of fresh mango.

I called up Fay Da to find out what it's doing right. Kellen Chou, the co-owner of the bakery, told me that they don't skimp on ingredients, baking with butter instead of margarine or lard.

Fay Da's icing on the cake
Staci Schwartz

Fay Da's icing on the cake

Location Info

Map

Manna House Bakery

212 Grand St.
New York, NY 10013

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: Chinatown

Dragon Land Bakery

125 Walker St.
New York, NY 10013

Category: Retail

Region: Little Italy

Details

Manna House Bakery
212 Grand Street, 212-274-8816; three other locations in Chinatown, one in Flushing

Dragon Land Bakery
125 Walker Street, 212-219-2012

Lung Moon Bakery
83 Mulberry Street, 212-349-4945

Fay Da
10 locations in Chinatown and Queens; fayda.com

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The Chous are from Taiwan. Han Chou, Kellen's brother, apprenticed under a baker in Taiwan who had learned Western pastry by cooking at a U.S. Army base. When the family came to the States, Kellen Chou went to cooking school; both Kellen and Han worked for other Chinese bakeries before opening their own.

I asked her if Fay Da was Taiwanese-style. She laughed. "Well, you know spaghetti is from China," she said, joking about the futility of nailing down a food's origin. "I don't know why one bakery brands itself Hong Kong–style while the other calls itself Taiwanese. Except the steamed buns, most of it originated somewhere in Europe anyway. If savory food can be fusion, why not a bakery?"

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