Are you a San Franciscan between the ages of 5 and 25? Then you know what an egg puff is: A crunchy Hong Kong street snack
, an inverted Belgian waffle, and a staple at dozens of Asian-influenced sweets shops in town. (The Chowhounds have collectively assembled a possible history of the egg puff
in the United States.)
SFoodie, who is not between the ages of 5 and 25, has been so curious about Quickly's egg puff ads that we finally embarked on a citywide puff rampage. Apologies to all the teenage cashiers puzzled (if not creeped out) by the middle-aged guy who would lurk around the egg-puff iron, watching them pour in the batter, then walk out with his nose buried in the bag.
We first stopped at the Glen Park branch of Eggettes
, a chain with two other locations, on Noriega and El Camino Real in South San Francisco. It's a one-stop snack shop with milk tea, frozen coffee drinks, and fish balls, as well as a bank of soft-serve yogurt machines. Eggettes sells only three flavors of egg puffs each day ― regular, vanilla, and one specialty flavor such as green tea or sesame. The counter woman who made our egg puff ($2.75) draped it over a piece of plastic to cool so the glossy, golden sheet ― which resembled bubble wrap ― curled into a U. So thin and crisp was the negative space between bubbles that the sheet disintegrated in the bag, leaving us popping individual eggs with jagged exteriors. Uniformly crisp, each egg was hollow and light, the batter just sugary enough to keep us chasing after its sweetness.
Location two: Genki Crepes
, a crepe shop and mini mart on Clement stocked with enough technicolor bags of Asian candy to give Rainbow Brite a seizure. Genki Crepes offers a half-dozen flavors of egg puffs; after we tried a sesame-paste puff ($3.25) that was too sugary to finish we went back for a regular vanilla puff ($3). The egg matrix on Genki's iron was tighter, allowing less space between bubbles, and the egg molds were rounder and deeper. When the puff came off the iron, the inside walls of the eggs turned out pleasingly custardy. But the batter was still sweeter than we'd have preferred.
Our last stop was the Irving Street branch of Quickly
, the Taiwanese froyo chain with 14 San Francisco franchises. Quickly has been pimping its egg puffs hard since March, which the company introduced them to Northern California. Its puffs are more tightly spaced than either of the other stores, their exterior matte, the eggs filled two-thirds of the way through with batter. On first bite, the puffs actually smelled and tasted like eggs, and the crisp-shelled bubbles were filled with custard. But within 30 seconds the sheet turned floppy and the puffs softened up. After a couple of puffs, we tossed the bag.Conclusion:
It's almost a tie between Eggettes and Genki ― although we felt the texture of the Genki puffs was ideal, SFoodie preferred the faint sweetness of the Eggettes batter. The win goes to Eggettes.
That said, we feel as if we've just pronounced judgment on which Bakugan
has the coolest special powers. The decision really belongs to the fifth-graders.Eggettes
2810 Diamond (at Chenery), 839-5282.Genki Crepes
330 Clement (at Fourth Ave.), 379-6414.Quickly
2118 Irving (at 23rd Ave.), 665-3090.