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Since this past weekend was a super special weekend for me (I feel blessed Easter happened around the same time), I decided to treat myself, visit New York and explore bake shops and coffee shops (separate thread soon). For bakeries, here are my observations:

Chelsea

Empire Cake. I love the clean lines of the font of the storefront and interior design. I also like how they have so many different types of cake and baked goods to choose from. I only purchased one slice of their chocolate cake to sample. The cake traveled well from NY to DC, since I didn't eat it until the next day, and I loved the chocolatey goodness without it being overly sweet. The only slight downfall is that it was a teeny bit on the dry side, but I would still go back to buy their cakes and try their wares.

Fat Witch. This is inside the famous Chelsea Market. I bought two mini brownies ($1.75 a piece) and one "Wicked" brownie (with green sprinkle sugar, after the musical - around $3). I haven't had these yet, but the locals I asked really love this place and I really liked the sample I tasted. The shop is really small, but I love whoever designed their logo.

East Village

Milk Bar. The East Village location is right around the corner from the noodle bar and right across the street from Ssam. One can walk right past it without you knowing it's there. The main design downfall is that it's tiny and no public washroom to use. The main flavor downfall is what others have posted in this forum: it is simply too sweet. I tried the chocolate cake truffles where the first ingredient listed is sugar. That should have clued me in, but nonetheless, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. And I was fussy, but of course, in a bad way. I also didn't like the cornflake chocolate chip cookie for two reasons: 1. It was too sweet as well, and 2. It was too gimicky. Sweet snacks should be simple, no fuss and delish. This place strays from all three in my book.

Hell's Kitchen (Theatre District border)

Donna Bell's Bake Shop. I stopped here after seeing Avenue Q at the New World Stages. The store is about 3/4 kitchen and 1/4 shop, but boy, what a shop! I wish I purchased more than the one piece of the pecan bar here--it has all the goodness that a good baker/eater looks for in a bar: proper shortbread (okay, it may have been a little too buttery), not too terribly sweet, but just gooey enough (a good use of honey in this case) with a healthy helping of pecans atop. I scarfed it down when I got back to DC. It also traveled well.

I definitely can't wait to explore places others have posted in the "Mother Thread" as well.

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The memories are a bit fuzzy, since this last trip occurred back in early July with my mom, but I shall do my best.

Chelsea
Lucy's Whey Cheese Shop. A little gem in the Chelsea Market, this is Chelsea's version of Cheestique, except about 1/8 of its size. Regardless, the person helping us was very patient with my mom and her cheese preferences. The winner was Ewe's Blue.

Sarabeth's. Undoubtedly, you recognize the name for jams, or perhaps their shortbread; however, my mom and I hands down agreed that their Cr�me Br�l�e took the "cake," so to speak. Ever so memorable, due to its creaminess and well-caramelized sugar crunch, my mom regrets not having gone back to purchase a second. Their homebrewed iced tea was a perfect way to enjoy the afternoon.

Chinatown
Egg Custard Cafe Two. Aptly named "two" after the first one closed, this is still probably the only place in Chinatown to offer a variety of egg tarts (蛋塔) that are consistently made well.

Hell's Kitchen
Je and Jo. Known more for their ice cream, I selfishly figured out that they carried Cafe Grumpy coffee and went two doors down from the bakery to here for my morning caffeine fix. Although I loved the brief tasting I had, my stomach had only enough room for one sweetened good, sadly. Worth checking out, as I love the ingredients used.

Sullivan St. Bakery. This bakery is worth a trip for, tucked in the corner at the end of 47th Street. I strolled upon a doting father, pulling his two children in a cute red wagon up to the door. Turns out, the father is the owner, Jim Lahey. Kind to me in explaining a brief history, I was struck about how simple and rustic his shop was. Its simplicity is what makes his bomboloni worth repeat trips for. A signature Italian doughnut, this bakery offers two versions: one filled with a well-done vanilla custard and one jam-filled. Skip the jam in my book. I would forego eating the rest of the day just to indulge on these calorie nuggets.

Koreatown
Paris Baguette. Although it sounds Parisian, this is a popular Korean bakery chain like Shilla, but done much better. With its bright lights and sterile interior, with a touch of Asian home where the staff pick out the desserts from the plastic cases for you, this place was a welcomed refuge from the sweltering NYC summer heat. Make sure you order the bingsu here, as it is a generous portion. The cakes are pretty good too.

Rockefeller Center
Magnolia Bakery. Even if this place is a tourist trap at this location, a midnight dessert craving cannot go unanswered. Thankfully, this place is a quick walk from Times Square. Avoid the cupcakes, I say, and set your eyes on the pie. A solidly made crust, a slice of the Banana Cream really hit the spot! I was grateful, even though they were busy, the lines and staff ran like a well-oiled machine.

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I had a cornetti (Italian croissant) this morning from the Sullivan Street Bakery location on 9th Ave. and 24th Street. It was very flaky and buttery and had a light sweet glaze on it. I sampled it soon after I bought it (while walking down 23rd Street, flaky crumbs dropping on my coat) and had the rest a few hours later. Of course, it was better earlier in the day. Definitely something I'd go back for.

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Okay, a month late, but hope this will come in handy for others. These were discoveries on this latest trip up north. I am really bad a neighborhood boundaries, so please correct me if I am wrong.

Chinatown

Beautiful Memory Desserts (69A Bayard Street). $15 minimum for credit card purchases. This is a nice little sit-down place for Hong Kong-styled desserts. There were a lot of options involving fruit, tapioca, coconut, and/or condensed milk. I tried the mango and grass jelly ice with coconut milk, I think. It was not so much a beautiful memory, but that was only because service was not so pleasant. They were loud talkers about what they were going to order for lunch. The dessert was not bad, but only because I got spoiled in Shanghai by something similar that I ordered and was much better.

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Manna House (125 Mott Street). Of course most places don't have websites in Chinatown, so I am underlining these places. *Cash only.* I went on another Egg Custard Tart expedition, as the aforementioned Egg Custard King closed. Again. There are only classic egg tarts here for sale. These are the closest to the Cantonese-styled tarts of my memory. I seem to recall this is a tad on the sweet side, but traveled well to be eaten two days later. Worth revisiting. They also sell breads, but I didn't try, since I wanted to buy from the next place.

Simply Bakery (70 Bayard Street). *Cash only,* of course. The newbie in town compared to a lot of bakeries. I usually compared all breads in Manhattan to Taipan, which probably is still the most-liked of the bakeries. I think I have a new favorite. The Cantonese-styled breads are slightly sweeter than Taipan, but the rise of the dough and fillings were all really good. The egg tarts weren't so much. Merely okay, in a pinch, compared to Manna House.

ViVi Bubble Tea (Multiple locations - this one at 49 Bayard Street). This is a bubble tea chain with a cute logo and lots of options. I think I chose poorly because I had limited time, so I preferred the other place I visited (see below). I do like how they offer hot bubble drinks or hot drinks in general in the "wintertime."

East Village

Dessert Club, Chikalicious. This is the full name, although I think I visited the Chikalicious. Since I did not fulfill my Cronut hunt, a quick google search yielded here as one of the places for its knockoff, the Dossant. And what a great dossant it was! It was nicely risen, pretty flakey, crunchy sugar, with just enough of a caramel glaze to melt and compliment. Plus, I got to order a really tasty Green Tea Crepe Cake, to boot.  If you are in the neighborhood, this would be a great bakery to stop off for some good variety of tasty treats.

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Kung Fu Tea. Also a bubble tea chain that is cash only. They also had a good variety of options here. I chose the Herbal Jelly Milk Tea. I seem to recall it hit the spot after quite a bit of walking and wishing for a second cup.

Otafuku. I love the little Japantown in this area. There are so many options between bakeries, eateries, and grocery shopping. I wish DC would offer something like this. I was super excited to order a Medetai at this little snack bar, which is a pancake-like concoction, usually filled with red bean or custard. I chose red bean. It was, however, disappointing. Not buttery enough in the pancake-base. But the takomyaki looks very good. Be prepared to wait a little, but the kitchen workers are good at the assembly line, so everything goes fast.

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NoLIta

La Churreria. Churros!! They hold a fond spot in my memories. Deep fried, sugar and cinnamon-coated, donut-like creatures that taste perfect by itself, or utopic when dipped in melted chocolate. This would be the place that you must visit. I happen to walk past by this place, and the allure of churros drew me in. Which was a fantastically great thing! Even nicer, the manager comped my one churro (I said I had to try it but couldn't finish an entire order of 6) and dipping chocolate in exchange for a tweet (which I happily obliged). They have coffee and full service, but since I only tried their churro, I am writing this up in the bakery section. The churro verdict: it was nice, warm, and chewy, which evoked happy memories of consuming these in Chicago winters. I would definitely return.

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Rice to Riches. I may be stretching this a little, but what do you categorize a rice pudding place as? I was happy they now have these "Diva" options, as it is a little rice pudding cup for one, to go. They allow you to try the samples in-store before you decide between Cinnamon Sling, Caramel, Original, and Rum Raisin (I think these are the options, but can't find my notes on these). There allow more flavors if you decide to buy in a bigger container. I still had to make room for lunch, plus, I was going to be walking around all day without refrigeration, so I chose the single serving. I definitely recommend either eating in or picking from the bigger serving option, as the rice sort of hardens in the Diva, as they are found in the refrigerated area. My tasting sample was way better.

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South Village

Dominique Ansel Bakery. I had to go try the Cronut originator. Or so I thought. Of course it was not until I visited that I found out that folks start lining up at 6AM for these things. So, it was sold out. I settled for their Dominique's Kouign Amann ($5.25), instead. This was before their Health Department debacle and I sort of am hesitant in recommending this place. Plus I was not happy about paying an arm and a leg for a small pastry here. But you will have legions of fans that will disagree with me. So you will just have to try it for yourself.

I am making the Wafels & Dinges truck a bakery. Only because I ordered their Verdekke, which is their waffle-ice cream sandwich. Oh. Wow. It was fantastic! Especially for late night fare, because I ate this at 1:17am, after having a pint, and getting lost from The Spotted Pig back to my lodgings. Such buttery goodness!! Perfect nightcap. I found them in NoLIta that night, but you'll have to visit their website to see where they'll land each night. Perfect!

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