Oakland Chinatown, except for places like Tây Hồ, Bình Minh Quán, and the Korean restaurant on 13th street, carried on its everyday business on Thanksgiving as if it were a town in China. The Chinese dedication is admirable and to be grateful for. Without it I would haven’t had two meals worth of $1.75 wrapped in bamboo leaves. Yes, two meals.
Jung, as the lady at Sum Yee Pastry pronounced, is a heavy deal. At first I thought it was a Vietnamese banh gio, except for the leaf wrapper being dried instead of smooth, damp, and waxy. I asked her for the name and couldn’t make out what she was saying, I asked her to write it down but she didn’t know how, she then asked if I was Vietnamese and switched to my mother tongue in her mixed Chinese tongue to explain that this thing is eaten on May 5th just like banh chung is eaten during Tet. Aha, so it’s zong zi, the great great great grandfather of banh u tro! Turns out zong zi (just a different, and much more common, pinyin name of jung) are sold year round nowadays.
This zong zi in particular has different fillings from its regional variations in China or Malaysia, and certainly bears little resemblance to the sweet version (gan shui hong dao sha joong), as its main feature is mung bean paste. (Sum Yee has the peanut type for the same price, too, though I’m not sure if it’s peanut paste or whole peanut.) The barbecued pork and lap cheong are rather dry, the sticky rice cements my stomach, I reluctantly wrap up one half for dinner. Little do I know I’ve saved the better half for last. There is a salted egg yolk embedded in that corner. 😀 *Dancing hearts*
(*) It actually has a whole long array of savory dinner dishes, steamers of pork buns and relatives, and if my memory hasn’t failed, just one corner of pastries