Egg tarts may look like a smaller version of the traditional egg pie but there are substantial differences between the two. Egg tarts have a flaky crust more similar to puff pastry than the bready crust of egg pie. The custard of egg tarts is more like creme brulee.
My kids loved the egg tarts from the Portuguese Egg Tart Factory and it was a sad day when the outlet at the Shangri-La Plaza Food Gallery folded up. I am not even sure if the main outlet along Banawe Street in Quezon City is still there. Fortunately, Lord Stow’s Bakery is still in business. We were in the Diliman area last night and bought a box of egg tarts at the Tomas Morato outlet (near the Roces intersection, just beside Zensho Restaurant). The prices have gone up. In the late 1990s, an egg tart cost 25 pesos per. Today, a Lord Stow’s egg tart goes for 33 pesos per.
I know it sounds expensive for something so small and seemingly ordinary. Thing is, it isn’t ordinary. You can get cheaper egg tarts from dimsum carts and counters but the custard will not be the same. Most of the time, the crust of dimsum egg tarts isn’t flaky either.
What would account for the difference? According to Wikipedia, there is Chinese (Hong Kong) style egg tart and there is Portuguese style egg tart. Lord Stow’s egg tarts are Portuguese in origin, a modification of the Pasteis de nata.
The Portuguese-style egg tarts known in Macao originated from Lord Stow’s CafÃ© in Coloane, owned by a Briton named Andrew Stow. Stow modified the recipe of pastel de nata using techniques of making English custard tarts…
In essence, the Portuguese-style egg tart commonly sold in Asia resembles the Hong Kong-style egg tart, except for the fact that it contains a small amount of coconut milk and requires a finishing topping of caramelised sugar.
The topping of caramelized sugar should explain why the custard of Chinese egg tarts, such as those sold in Kowloon House (see photo), are uniformly yellow while Lord Stow’s have a toasted surface. It is also interesting to note that, according to the Lord Stow’s website, no additives nor preservatives are used in making the egg tarts.
So, if you’re craving for a great dessert, or even a quick snack, or if you just want an alternative to the pervasively commercialized donut culture (I tried Krispy Kreme once and couldn’t understand what the big deal was), I suggest Lord Stow’s egg tarts. At room temperature and after chilling overnight in the fridge, they are just scrumptious.
If you decide to drop by Lord Stow’s Bakery, you will notice brown buns being sold in packs of three prominently displayed on top of the glass counters. Wheat-bread siopao that comes with a variety of fillings. I bought the ones with chicken filling and steamed them for breakfast earlier today. Well, they would be a health buff’s delight, for sure. The chicken and black mushroom filling isn’t oily at all. The bread is good. Not as soft nor springy, and not as sweet, as traditional Chinese siopao — but good. Not something I’d crave for after trying once but something I won’t mind enjoying again.
Now, the egg tarts… well, they’re really something to crave for. :razz: