|Almond Cookies can be a delicious treat when made correctly. If you are used to the small flat hard cookies obtained from supermarkets and Chinese restaurant check trays, then you haven’t had a REAL almond cookie. The best almond cookies are thick and doughy, and quite large. They are soft and chewy on the inside, light and flakey on the outside, and covered in slivered almonds. When baked to perfection your teeth should crunch slightly through the first layer and then sink thought the rest. I wanted to find the best example of these pastries in Los Angeles so I traveled straight to the source, Chinatown.
Sandwiched between the Chinese Cultural Center Reading Room and an old-fashioned Chinese herbal remedy shop sits the quiet unassuming Kim Hung Bakery. Above it looms the remains of the once-impressive Chinese Masons building (yes, that used to be a thing.) From the outside it looks like nothing special, a small generic bakery with few items on its’ shelves. Its’ counter takes up most of the shop, and there is barely enough room to stand while you order, let alone dine on your purchases. In other words, two customers is an unmanageable crown in this tiny building. But the old adage holds true, great things do come in tiny packages, and in this case a tiny unassuming shop holds the secret to the best cookie you will ever place in your mouth. On the bakery’s limited shelf-space sits row after row of giant, delicious almond cookies individually wrapped and large enough to match the size of your entire hand. The cookies are thick, and doughy, and cooked to perfection.
Loads of shaved almond covers each pastry’s flakey top, and as you sink your teeth into your first bite you will realize that you will never be able to eat an ordinary almond cookie again. As other bakeries in the neighborhood shrunk their cookie size, reduced their quality, and raised their prices ($1.50 and up throughout Chinatown), Kim Hung kept their classic recipe and 60¢ price per cookie. This is not only the best place in town to get an amazing almond cookie, it may also be the only place left to get such a delicacy. Stop by and give one a try. Then thank me later.
Kim Hung Bakery
If you want a quick snack on your way to the best cookie in the world, stop by the Phoenix Bakery just a few doors down the street from the Kim Hung Bakery. Here you will find a marvel of eating on the go, a bit of Dim Sum known as the “Spicy Pork Bun.” Almost every bakery in Chinatown offers the traditional sweet “Pork Bun” among its’ cookies and pastries, but here at the Phoenix your traditional pork bun sits along side it’s fiery cousin, the Spicy Pork Bun. It features BBQ pork with a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce stuffed inside a light, flakey and slightly sweet bun. The buns are made daily and served piping hot. If spicy pork isn’t your thing, there are also a number of other buns available here including “Jalapeño, Peperoni & Cheese”, “Turkey & Cheese”, “Ham & Cheese”, “Habanero & Cheese”, and “Beef Curry”, all for around $1.50.
Photos by John Glass