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Friday, March 19, 2010

S.F. Rising: Sheng Kee's Pork Sung Loaf

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 11:04 AM

click to enlarge Sheng Kee's breads look like they belong in an Easter basket.
  • Sheng Kee's breads look like they belong in an Easter basket.
A new weekly survey of bread in San Francisco ― the baked

and the steamed, the artisan and the novelty.

Pork Sung Bread

Sheng Kee Bakery, 1941 Irving (at 21st Ave.), 564-4800
Price: $3.69
Toast-appropriateness: 8/10

Founded in Taiwan, this California bakery chain is the Entenmenn's From the Other Side of the World: It's stocked with moon cakes and sponge cakes, frilly confections, and cellophane-wrapped convenience foods. It would take a bread junkie at least a month to taste all of Sheng Kee's buns, which are filled with everything from custard to ham and tuna (that's a combo, mind you).

The half dozen varieties of white bread range from the familiar (raisin) to the kinds you wish Wonder would introduce (coconut swirl). Then there's the pork sung bread, or breakfast in a slice. Pork sung, sometimes translated as pork floss, resembles what you'd get if you found a way to process bacon bits through a cotton candy machine. (Side note: Please let the bacon craze die down before someone actually does this.)

The evil streusel swirl.
  • The evil streusel swirl.
And while the concept of breakfast-in-a-slice sounds ideal, the reality isn't. The pork sung clumps together, more gummy than feathery in texture, and the cooking process leaches out most of the pork flavor and replaces it with a strange sweetness. The bread itself is almost as fragile and fluffy as a slice of Sheng Kee's sponge cake.

A number of official SFoodie tasters, aka Weekly staff writers, stopped by the official SFoodie tasting station for a slice of pork-swirl bread, but no one came back for a second slice. One taster, however, came up with a perfect use for the bread: French toast. Unfortunately, the loaf was so soft that, en route back to the official SFoodie test kitchens, the bread compressed into a crescent-shaped block of dough. In any case, pork-sung French toast doesn't seem as appealing as coconut-swirl French toast.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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