Monday, June 8, 2009

Sun Merry Bakery (聖瑪莉)

Okay, so obviously one bowl of beef noodles really wasn't enough to satiate my hunger. I had been on a plane for damn near 20 hours, and I had to deal with a microwaved Jimmy Dean breakfast bagel, I wanted some quality carbs. So after eating my bowl of noodles, I walked over to the actual 永康 street entrance, originally planning on walking back to my apartment. I was caught between a tough choice... I could either finish up my meal with some Mister Donut, which while kind of expensive, with everything falling around 35-45 NT, is amazing and makes Krispy Kreme look kind of tame (they have awesome flavors like mango creme), or I could grab some bread from Sun Merry. Obviously I chose the latter, and I don't regret it one bit.

The store is actually called 聖瑪莉, which I always thought meant St. Mary, but whatever that's not really important. It's a chain store bakery with locations all over Taipei, so you could really get your fix whenever. Anyway, it's a pretty generic bakery with the standard breads you'd expect to find at pretty much any Chinatown bread place, but they do have a couple items that stood out to me.

First up was a green tea flavored mochi bread filled with red bean paste. I realized the name doesn't evoke a sensory image you'd associate with delicious, but bear with me... once you hear the description you might change your mind. The outside is a soft, or what asians would refer to as 'QQ,' layer of a bread made partially with bread flour and partially with rice flour. It lends to a very chewy, but yielding skin that is a hybrid between mochi and soda bread in texture. It is lightly flavored with matcha green tea powder, and just slightly sweet, with enough green tea that you can easily smell it upon the first bite. The center is where the true character of the bread (I guess it's more of a dessert pastry) lies. The bottom is a solid disc of white unflavored mochi simply to lend to the texture, and on top of that is a thick layer of sweetened adzuki beans. The outer skin combines with this thick paste/mochi layer to a perfect level of sweetness. When bitten into, the various textures makes for a stretchy dough akin to salt water taffy (not really, but it's the best comparison I can make in terms of pliability). At 27 NT (80 cents), it wasn't cheap... by Taiwan standards I mean, but it was certainly worth it.

In addition to that, something else caught my eye. After reading about the bo lo bao (波羅麵包) countless times on other blogs, I began thinking about the various meat + pastry combinations that would be... uh... pleasant I guess. When I saw the bo lo char siu bun (波羅叉燒麵包), I knew I had to have one. It cost 28 NT (again about 80 cents) so I wouldn't say it was a steal, but it wasn't too expensive. Besides, how often do you find roast meats inside a dessert bun? Anyway, when I took it out of the bag, there was a pleasant sweetness from the char siu, and upon biting into the bread, I felt like I was in heaven. The bread was sufficiently flaky, almost to the point where you felt like the baker was abusing the use of butter. The topping was nice and crumbly, incredibly sweet, but appropriate in this situation. When combined with the pungent smoky honey flavor of the fatty pork inside... it made for a pretty satisfying little snack. The only complaint I have about this little number was that it was way too small. It was literally only 5 or 6 bites. Sorry, no pics of this... mainly because it looks like a plain pineapple bun... also because I ate it first.

As far as Sun Merry itself, yeah it's pretty good at what it does, but these bakeries are a dime a dozen in Taipei. I wouldn't tell anyone they had to visit if they were in Taiwan, but to be completely honest, I go there probably a couple times a week. So yes, it is that good in my opinion. My only wish is that we could have a couple of these in Manhattan... way better than having Pret a Manger every 3 blocks.

Back to running this morning (yes I still have jet lag), and it turned out to be a really good run. 5.56 miles, which is about 4 or so laps around 大安公園 (Da An Park). Pacing was ridiculously good too, something like a 7:30 mile for the entire thing. I think it's because I made a stupid game to entertain myself. I would run one way on a lap, and I'd pick a person who I felt was running fairly fast, then I'd double back at the end of the lap and go in the opposite direction, telling myself I had to catch that person before I reached the entrance of the park again. Haha, no one else knows I'm playing this game, but at least it keeps me running at a faster pace than I normally would for the entire duration of my run. Oh, did I mention the fact that there is literally only 10 feet of elevation change over the entire course? I love Taipei.

distance for the day: 5.56 miles
distance biked for the day: 0.00 miles

distance on the year: 266.67 miles
distance biked on the year: 142.68 miles


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oh snap. I can control the text here?