Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
One of Chengdu’s iconic food stops is the Gong Ting Bakery. The Wen Shu Yuan branch typically has lines of customers more than ten deep, with an even longer wait on holidays. The branch on Jianshe Road is also doing brisk business whenever we’re walking by. Most customers are walking away with bags of salt and pepper flavoured ‘tao su’ (椒盐桃酥) which are small, crisp, addictively spicy cookies. Larger palm sized tao su, both spicy and plain, are also on offer. They also do several kinds of cake, pastry, and other confections made from nuts, beans, and sesame. We are partial to the green bean cake (录豆糕), the sticky rice and red bean sweets (年糕), and the date cake (枣泥糕), but there are many things we haven’t tried yet. The Gong Ting Bakery is so popular that several other bakeries with very similar names have opened up all over town, and it’s often difficult to tell from the storefront whether it is the real deal Gong Ting or one of the tribute shops. We recommend asking for a sample of tao su to see if it has the signature salt and pepper bite.
We’ve always had to make special trips up to the north side of town to load up on Gong Ting Bakery goodies, so we were pretty excited to see a branch open up in Tongzilin, just opposite the Carrefour. The day we stopped in they had just been open a couple of weeks and there was not yet a line. The Gong Ting servers are super efficient and not usually inclined to chat, but since it was slower we had a chance to ask a few questions about ingredients and fillings. The signature tao su is still a best seller, and we tried a new pastry of shredded dough and red bean filling. We noticed a few new products, like chocolate tao su, and some of the product packaging has been updated, but they have wisely not changed the classics.