Hidden Treasure: Chinese Baked Goods from Jasmine Express

Even though I’ve been living in San Diego for over a year, there are still some sweets on my best hits list that I’m looking for. Two such items are my favorite Chinese bakery treats: coconut mochi and coconut buns. In my former home, I was lucky enough to live a short streetcar ride from a bustling Chinatown, with multiple bakeries, offering these items for as little as 3 for $1. I get misty-eyed just thinking about walking out the door with a paper bag stuffed with chewy, buttery, coconutty goodness and have been searching for the SoCal equivalent. So far, the closest contender is Jasmine Express in Kearny Mesa, which I stumbled upon completely by accident.

The store, which also offers to-go savory items, is located right beside the very busy Jasmine Seafood Restaurant, a popular destination for Dim Sum. The bakery case had all sorts of bakery goodies, but I went right for my favorites: a coconut peanut mochi and a coconut bun (both 85 cents each).

The coconut peanut mochi had that tasty chewiness that makes mochis so unique, and was filled with a nutty paste made with peanuts and sesame seeds. The sesame seeds gave it a subtle smoky taste that was leaning towards the savory side of the sweet/savory continuum, but it was delicious nonetheless.

The bright yellow filling of the coconut bun threw me off at first, but it had the same sweet and (not so surprisingly) buttery taste that makes this doughnut-like pastry so delicious. Neither of them may be much to look at, but both are definitely worth trying, even if you have to drive across town. While you’re there, you might as well check out The Fruit Shop. Of all the tropical fruit we sampled, the jackfruit and the golden kiwis were the best.

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