The freshly steamed sponge cake from the Kam Hing Coffee Shop is the dark horse sweet of Chinatown. For the uninitiated, it's the same sponge cake you see all over Chinatown bakeries, but incredibly light, fragrant with eggs, just a bit sweet, and always served warm—until it sells out. For 70 cents, I don't know of a better sweet bite in the city.
Recently a new sign appeared in the coffee shop's window: "We now have green tea cakes! $1." Two empty-handed visits later and I can't say they're as consistently available as the plain versions, but if you can get your hands on them, they don't disappoint. The tea flavor is unexpectedly deep and rich, slightly bitter with a mellow vanilla finish.
And yet—they're not strict improvements over the plain sponge cakes, at least until they start getting made in greater numbers. As of now, the green tea cakes are made in a big batch and left to sit at room temperature, unlike the plain cakes, which are always fresh and warm. The cakes don't age quite as poorly as a bagel, but some of the magic is lost once they cool off. The ethereal lightness is gone.
That said, if you dig green tea sweets, go for these. They're worth it for a dollar at the very least, and still superior to most of the sponge cakes in Chinatown.
Kam Hing Coffee Shop
119 Baxter Street, New York NY 10013 (map)