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[Photos: Chichi Wang]

Koryodang, Inc is the sleekest of the bakeries on the densely packed block designated Koreatown in Manhattan on 32nd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues. What exactly makes a bakery Korean? (Aside from the fact that it's run by Koreans.) With the exception of the Korean-style glutinous rice cakes, not much else looked distinctly Korean rather than simply pan-Asian, but we were still interested in the execution of all the treats.

In addition to the bakery, the shop runs a sit-down café. Though the cheapest item on the café menu is a medium-sized cup of coffee for four dollars, it's a pleasant and clean place to sit down and enjoy the bakery's selection of baked and fried goods. Choosing from a number of mochi, breads, baked pastries, cakes, and fried dough goods, we were happy with the breads and cakes.

Recommended

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A bread roll that looked like a cross between Irish soda bread and a hot-cross bun turned out to have a crisp crust with a moist, yeasty interior full of pistachios and dried nuts. The roll was still warm when we bought it at 11:00am, and the cream cheese filling was fluffy and slightly sweet. (The Korean version of a bagel with cream cheese, perhaps?) I would definitely buy this again and have it with a cup of coffee in the morning, though perhaps not at the shop itself. A flatter version, also filled with cream cheese, was palatable too.

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A mango-mousse cake concoction was topped off with plenty of juicy, fresh pieces of mango. The mango mousse cake was airy, the cake layer was appropriately moist.

Not Recommended

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We'd never encountered the white bean filling, which was next to the red and green bean rolls. The roll was the standard eggy dough that Asian bakeries use, but it was the small details that made it better: a moist crumb that stretched out a little with each bite, and a fluffy overall texture. The filling itself was too sweet for our taste.

A cream cheese roll with a fluked cylindrical shape looked like an overgrown biscuit, turned out to be bread studded with bits of candied citrus peel and a citrus flavored cheese filling. Neither the bread nor the filling was great, but together they were a pleasant enough combination.

From the selection of korokes (fried dough with savory fillings), we chose the potato koroke, which was full of peas and potatoes. We would have liked it better savory.

Canneles came three to a pack for two bucks, but they were eggy without any hint of burnt sugar on the bottoms.

Bottom line: You're better off going to a French bakery for the pastries and a Japanese bakery for sweet Asian-style rolls, but go to Koryodang for the breads and cakes. Breads are under $1.50; cakes are beautifully done and range from $3-5.

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