Eve M. Tai Swoon.
A Piece of Cake Bakery & Cafe (514 S. King St.) is the Larsen's of the International District. Like its Danish cousin in Loyal Heights, A Piece of Cake dazzles with cases brimming with baked goods. Making a selection might require an app that inputs personal criteria--mousse? custard? crust?--to help you suss out the cornucopia of Asian breads, buns, and cakes.
Eve M. Tai Swoon.
Although their frothy mousse cakes laced with fruit are perfect for summer, the Chinese baked goods win my attention. That still leaves half the bakery to navigate, but at least I'm teamed with a friend bearing a Chinese last name and matching appetite, Seattle Weekly's own Chelsea Lin.
The most famous Chinese dessert may be the dim sum stalwart dan tat, or egg custard tart. If you could pour sunshine fattened up on eggs and sweetened, evaporated milk into a personal-sized shortcrust shell, you'd end up with dan tat.
While mine wasn't a Tiger Mother when I was a kid, I thought twice before bringing home a report card bearing anything less than all A's. But get my mom around dan tat and I'd end up with a box of four even if I were the class dunce. A Piece of Cake's dan tat aren't the richest in town, but the flavor is custardy all the same and the shortcrust is good enough to scarf down on its own. Plus the price is right--$1.25. Try and find a personal pie at an uptown bakery at even thrice that price.
Other treats include the baby-bunny-shaped lotus paste bun--a great pick, notes Chelsea, for those who think red bean paste is a) overrated and b) overdone. It's baked to a pale tan and painted over in an eggy yellow glaze. The paste is sweet, mild, and refined as a courtesan's silk gown. And again with the crust already! It's generous on the shortening and so explosively flakey you're at risk of inhaling the crumbs.
Eve M. Tai Pieces of cakes.
For sticky-rice fans seeking life beyond mochi, try the wife cake, a mini-pancake stuffed with mashed sweet sticky rice. Like the other desserts, wife cake doesn't overdo it on the sugar. It's chewy and gooey and thoroughly satisfying.
A Piece of Cake Bakery & Cafe is like that girl or guy you overlooked at the school dance. The neon signs, hand-scribbled labels, and melamine tables look pretty plain-Jane. But the bakery sneaks up on you because the pastries actually taste better than they look. How often does that happen anymore? As Chelsea said after a few bites in, "I think I love this place."