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An egg-static reader writes:
When I used to live in Denver I got the best pastel de nata at Reunion Bread. They were super crunchy and flaky.
Do you know a place that has them in Seattle or the surrounding area? Hopefully a spot that has them regularly, not once in a blue moon.
I’ll give you a short answer and a long answer for this one. The short answer: Fuji Bakery.
The long answer: Back in 18th-century Portugal...
Pasteis de nata, also known as Portuguese egg tarts, were invented by monks at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon hundreds of years ago. At the time, monks and nuns used egg whites to starch their clothes (the past was a strange place), so they had a bunch of yolks lying around. Someone came up with the idea of putting egg custard in a pastry shell, sort of like a miniature pie, which is browned on top and sometimes sweetened with flavors like cinnamon.
Because of Portugal’s status as a colonial superpower, its culinary influence spread to Asia. particularly Macau (which was under Portuguese rule until 1999). Macanese-style egg tarts are known as po tat, which is eggier and less sweet than the pasteis de nata you’d get in Portugal. There is also a Hong Kong variant called dan tat, which isn’t browned on top and often has a shortcrust-style shell; this is more of a savory pastry you could have at breakfast, and it is often served at dim sum places.
The upshot of this history is that while a lot of bakeries in Seattle will occasionally sell egg tarts, you can most reliably find them at Asian bakeries, like Mee Sum Pastry in Pike Place Market, Yummy House and Cake House in the Chinatown-International District, and many places throughout the Eastside.
Judging by the photos I’ve seen of the pasteis de nata at Reunion Bread — I’ll have to check that place out next time I’m in Denver — the egg tarts you’re looking for are caramelized on top and have flaky pastry shells. So Chinese bakeries that sell po tat and dan tat likely aren’t what you’re looking for. It doesn’t exactly fit the bill, but the matcha-flavored egg tart at Bellevue’s Story Coffee and Tea is a standout — it’s deeper than most egg tarts so it has a lot of custard filling to enjoy, and the hint of sweetness you get is really satisfying.
But if you want pastel de nata, the place to start is Fuji Bakery. This Japanese-influenced spot is one of the best bakeries in town and has locations in the ID and Interbay. Its pasteis de nata are textbook. The crust is sturdy yet flaky, the egg custard has warming hints of nutmeg or cinnamon, and every bite gives you the texture of both the smooth custard and the crunchy (but not overbaked) shell. They typically sell out of these early in the day, but you can preorder them on the Fuji website if you want to lock down your tarts.