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Help me identify Chinese "small eats" sold by sidewalk vendors

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Not long after my latest visit to Singapore, I began to search New York's various Chinatowns for creditable renditions of my favorite Singaporean dishes. One of these, bak chang...


...also goes by many other names and is prepared in many varieties. On Canal St., I came across an elderly lady's sidewalk display (shown) where, with the help of a passer-by fluent in both Cantonese and English, I learned that one of the lady's leaf-wrapped bindles contained peanut, pork, and egg, as well as close-packed rice. Fair-priced at $1.25, but nothing to remind me of Singapore.

Looking at my photo afterward, however, I wondered about all the other items the lady had prepared. Other sidewalk vendors, and storefronts, too, offer similar "small eats," but most are total strangers to me. Can you identify them, or point me to an online guide that provides some frame of reference? Thanks in advance.

Sidewalk vendor\

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If you find that NY Chinese foods have a different taste than that of Singapore, you should keep in mind that Singapore and New York received Chinese people from different parts of China in the diaspora. New York Chinese back 75/100 years ago were mainly Toyshan people and the Singapore Chinese were of TeoChow, Fujian stock. Sometimes they have very different customs, styles and cuisines...

The tray of goodies in the photo was most definitely lovingly made by a li'l ole popo from Toyshan. Delish!!

Edited by Ben Hong (log)
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I'm going to take some guesses as to what the various "tay - doi" are:

Back row top layer L to R: 1. "little bowl tay-doi" - steamed glutinous rice flour with probably dried shrimp and green onions

2. might be grass jelly, or century egg?

3 thought at first glance custard tarts, but nope...only see cupcake liner...

bottom layer: 1.looks like Chinese New Year cake(neen goh) made with glutineous flour and Chinese brown sugar

2.steamed ma-lai goh (cake)

middle row1. may be lobak goh (daikon) with dried shrimp, lap yuk and green onion

2.don't know what that is

3. taro cake filled with diced mushrooms, lap cheung, etc?

4. top with 2 "dumplings" may be what Toisan call "chicken in the cage" -but actually Chinese mushrooms, onion and ground pork

bottom row

1.taro cake 2.more daikon cake 3, 4, more taro cake but 3 and 4 looked like there may be beans of some kind? Not the Toisanese style I know.

The taro and daikon cakes often have similar kinds of filling.



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Was that my beloved "one dollar, one dollar!" lady, I wonder? She usually only had one variety of anything when I stopped by at various Manhattan Chinatown visits, always with peanuts. $1.25 is still a bargain, but I'd miss the creaky bark of "one dollah!" (And nothing more in any language that I could discern.)

All that variety looks compelling, but I'd need to round up friends to share in the bounty. I'd want one of everything.

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First off, I should have checked my photographic notes more carefully; I've edited my blog post to give the correct, Grand St. location, between Elizabeth and Bowery. I took my photo shortly after 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

And thanks. In truth, I'm not seriously hoping to find fresh-made bak chang, or any particular Singapore hawker food, here in New York. It's more that I'm using my Singaporean experiences as a point of departure for further local explorations. Provided I can hit the streets early enough in the day, there's certainly a lot I haven't tried!

At the time I'd believed that the vendor, and the helpful passerby, were conversing in Cantonese, but Taishanese is very possible. I can't say, literally.

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Thanks very much! As I mentioned in my reply to Ben Hong, I couldn't converse directly with the vendor, and when I encounter her again I may not have the good fortune to find such a helpful passerby. Determining the vendor's names for these items, then, will be problematic, but with your guidance I hope to confirm your IDs the old-fashioned way, hand to mouth. Thanks again.

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Here are my guesses.

Back row top layer L to R: 1.Savory rice flour cake - steamed probably long grain rice flour with probably dried shrimp and green onions

2. Dumpling with probably peanut, coconut and sugar filling. The outside is black and is flavored with leaves from a vine like plant. The finished item has a tea like aroma.

3. Steamed rice cake made with long grain rice flour, baking powder, sugar and yellow food color. Nice and light tasting.

bottom layer: 1.Sweet rice cake steamed in a little bowl made of long grain rice flour and brown sugar.

2.Looks like a layered glutinous rice cake, probably sweet with layers using brown and white sugar.

3.Black dumplings, solid rice flour with sugar and that vine flavoring again.

4.Giant steamed ma lai goh.

middle row1. may be lobak goh or it maybe a savory version of the brown rice cake right next to it.

2.brown sugar flavored glutinous rice cake with coconut shreds maybe

3. taro cake filled with pork, chinese olives, dried shrimp and preserved vegetable?

4. multi layer tapioca cake with red bean flavored center layer

4. Top white steamed dumpling is probably filled with ground pork, dried shrimps, diced mushrooms, etc. Hard to tell what the end item is.

bottom row

1.taro cake 2.same as number 1 middle. 3. Taro cake 4. unknown.

Overall a nice selection of Toisan snacks and festive foods.

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