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Colorful illustrations of Asian desserts at Seattle restaurants.

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An Illustrated Guide to Asian Desserts in Seattle

East meets sweets

Lori Bailey/Eater

In honor of Sweets Week, artist and baker Lori Bailey lovingly depicts and describes some of Seattle’s delicious Asian desserts


Egg Custard TartRegent Bakery and Cafe
Among the lovely cakes and breads lining the shelves at Capitol Hill’s Regent Bakery and Cafe, you’ll find these understated staples of the Cantonese dim-sum tradition. Regent makes a spot-on example of the classic, with a smooth, subtly-sweet, sunny-yellow filling and impossibly flaky pastry crust.

Black Sticky Rice with Coconut CustardLittle Uncle
It might be tough to get past the savory smells beckoning your senses at Little Uncle, but do your very best to remember to save room for something sweet. The restaurant’s Thai black sticky rice pudding is lightly sweetened, topped with sweet coconut custard, and drizzled with salty coconut cream. The components may sound odd, but together they work magic.

Coco-A-GogoMashiko
West Seattle’s Mashiko is best known for making impeccable, sustainable sushi. But why stop there? Go big or go home, someone at Mashiko must have said, and proceeded to fry a Bakery Nouveau brownie in panko breadcrumbs and nestle it alongside green tea ice cream. Restrained it ain’t, but delicious it certainly is.

Colorful illustrations of Asian desserts at Seattle restaurants. Lori Bailey/Eater

Ube CheesecakeHood Famous Bakeshop
Ube, for those who don’t know, is a root vegetable, like yam or taro, but with its own flavor and distinctive, vibrant purple color. Agriculture lesson over — now get thee to Hood Famous Bakeshop’s new brick-and-mortar in Ballard for an education in deliciousness. Filipino founder Chera Amlag translates this favored flavor of the Philippines into a silky-smooth, jaw-droppingly gorgeous cheesecake.

Green Tea or Yuzu MacaronsFresh Flours
Nestled among the impressive spread of pastries at Fresh Flours are a handful of edible shout-outs to the bakery's Japanese influence. The bite-sized macarons are perfect, miniature vehicles for clean, bright flavors like green tea and citrusy yuzu.

Sweet Potato Mochi DonutsRevel
Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside — the opening refrain for many a delectable treat. The sweet potato mochi donuts at Revel are no exception, delivering the subtle and satisfying taste of sweet potato with a sweet and buttery caramel sauce and garam masala-spiced pecans. Perfect for fall, and even more so with a cup of coffee at brunch.

CreamsiclesStateside
The dessert menu at Franco-Vietnamese Stateside boasts an array of tempting delicacies, but off-menu is where the fun happens. Ask for the creamsicles, filled with either a sweetened condensed milk or coconut ice cream core, flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen, then coated in a dreamily smooth shell of Vietnamese iced coffee, Thai tea, or sour cherry. It’s this understated culinary voodoo, played off in a completely unpretentious manner, that makes Stateside so refreshing.

House Milk TeaDrive Thru Boba
At Drive Thru Boba, simplicity is beauty. The menu is small, featuring tried-and-true classics plus a rotating selection of limited-run specials like black sugar milk tea, almond milk tea, and grass jelly whip. If in doubt, start with the house milk tea with boba (tapioca). Just make sure to check Facebook first (the store’s operating hours can be a moving target) and get there early to avoid missing out on your favorites.

Honey ToastHardwok Cafe
There’s really no reason to cut up a perfectly good loaf of bread, cube and caramelize its insides, then reassemble it into a franken-dessert topped with mountains of ice cream, whipped cream, fruit, and syrup. No reason at all. Thankfully, the Taiwanese who adopted honey toast from Japan obviously didn’t spend too much time grappling with the logic of it, and we have the good folks at Hardwok to thank for carrying on the tradition in the Northwest.

Mango Shaved Ice Facing East
Shaved ice, also called snow ice, is a dessert close to the hearts of many Taiwanese. Sometimes buried under an avalanche of different add-ons, sometimes adorned simply with fruit, the essentials of the treat are always the same: a heap of finely shaved ice and a loving pour of sweetened condensed milk to finish. At Facing East in Bellevue, go for the mango shaved ice and invite your other table-mates to dig in with their spoons, Taiwanese family-style.

Banana Cake Monsoon
Monsoon's banana cake is an ode to that humble workhorse of fruits. Thanks to the lopsided ratio of banana to other ingredients, this rendition of a Vietnamese confection highlights the banana’s flavor with a custardy, bread pudding-like consistency. To complement the sweetness, the cake is served with a savory coconut sauce. Basically, this is what every banana wants to be when it grows up.

—Text and illustration by Lori Bailey of Sugar and Stamp; you can see all of Bailey’s Eater Seattle illustrations at this link, and you can purchase prints of them through her online store

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