Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Here's a short update about a favorite subject: danta! Danta is an egg custard tart. It's a dessert that's associated with Macau, although I've read that it originated as a slight riff on some Portuguese or English desert.

To my mind, Lillian Cake Shop, a chain that's located throughout Shanghai, creates pretty much the perfect danta. The reason it's better than the competitors is mostly that it's cooked at a higher temperature. Like a creme brulee, the sugar at the top of the danta hardens and forms a thin caramelized layer at the very top - most places don't do this. In addition, the crust is light and flaky, but salty, a very nice contrast with the intense sweetness of the cream. It all goes for just 3 kuai, and out of the oven it's impossible to beat.

These cakes are located all around Shanghai, including inside a large number of subway stations. If none of these other danta are quite as good, a number of them bear mention. The first is from Lisboa Macau Restaurant, a favorite restaurant which I've written about before on this blog. They make a standard danta, as well as an egg-white danta. The egg white danta is lighter, bordering on a meringue, and definitely worth trying:

The other I plan to talk about is a little embarassing: KFC! It's the most popular fast food in China, but KFC makes some efforts to localize the menu, and one of these localizations is danta. KFC's dantas are actually pretty decent. It's in the same vein as Lillian Cake Shop, and they even caramelize the top layer, just overall it's not quite as good. They offer standard danta, and then a danta with candied fruit on top. The candied fruit is disgustingly sweet and throws off the whole balance of the flavors! Anyway, the worst thing that can be said about KFC's danta is that the 5 kuai/danta price, about equivalent to seventy five cents US, is much more than charged elsewhere.


Micah said...

Looks like you got the papaya danta at KFC. I agree that they are subpar, and refuse to eat them even though Jodi likes plain KFC danta a lot. The only kind that I will eat is the KFC 黄桃 yellow peach danta, which are pretty good.

My candidate for the best danta in Shanghai is now closed. It used to be in the underground walkway connecting People's Square and Nanjing East Road, and the reason it got the nomination was that the danta were decent and since it was located in one of the most pedestrian-ized places in Shanghai the danta were always *fresh* out of the oven and like heaven in my mouth.

unicorn jones said...

gave you shout-out on the debwa blog: