Treeka Wong has some of the best buns in town: big, pillowy dim-sum-style buns, that is, stuffed with everything from pineapple custard and chestnut puree to barbecued pork, curried beef, and even hot dogs. Along with partner and baker Peter Liu, the entrepreneur operates Golden Bakery (3030 Superior Avenue, 216-241-4418), the newest addition to Chinatown's Golden Plaza and Cleveland's only retail Chinese bakery.
Liu and Wong met in Toronto, a city well stocked with Chinese bakeshops. But the dearth of such businesses in Cleveland made this city an attractive locale, when the couple decided to open a place of their own. Beyond the buns, Liu's freshly baked goods include delicate sponge cakes, fruit tortes layered with whipped cream, and melt-in-your-mouth cookies, including the popular almond-butter variety. In place of sugary frostings, Liu relies on butter cream and whipped cream for fillings and toppings, and sweetness is intentionally kept to a minimum. The results are wonderfully sophisticated and completely satisfying, but never cloying, with an almost European flair. In fact, Wong isn't off the mark when she compares Liu's layered sponge cake, filled with whipped cream and strawberries, to Italian cassata cake.
While whole cakes cost $12 to $98, most other items are a bargain. That means a highly portable lunch of, say, a barbecued pork bun, followed by a cream-filled dessert bun, will set you back less than $2. Then head for a park, return to the office, or settle in at one of the tidy tables in the hallway outside the bakery; in any case, it's one of the most interesting and economical meals you'll find in the city. Golden Bakery is closed Tuesdays; otherwise, weekday hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Bass relief . . .
The staff of the Great Lakes Brewing Company (2516 Market Avenue, 216-771-4404) has long been dedicated to operating an environmentally friendly outfit -- providing spent grains to farmers for animal feed, for example, and aggressively recycling paper and cardboard. Now it's taken an even bolder step: removing endangered Chilean sea bass from the menu and replacing it with plentiful Alaskan halibut. "If current fishing practices continue," explains chef Erick Lamotte, "sea bass will be extinct in three years, so we've dropped it entirely, effective immediately. And who knows? If more chefs say no to serving sea bass, something good may eventually come of it."