Mon Hei Chinese Bakery is the oldest in the International District, having started business in 1979, the same year that I moved to the Seattle area from Southern California. We had never been customers here until we came with friends only a few years ago. I have to admit that I don’t remember much from that visit. That was then. Our tour guide today brought us to the bakery where the proprietress, Annie Chan, greeted us and mentioned that the cocktail bun was the bakery’s signature dessert and that it always sells quickly. I didn’t purchase anything at the time, but made a mental note to return later in the day. After lunch at Bún, we arrived at Mon Hei, but to our disappointment, the tray that had earlier been filled with cocktail buns was nowhere to be seen, a sign that it had sold out already. Not to worry, for within a minute, a fresh batch arrived from their kitchen in the basement.
I’ll say it right off the bat, the cocktail bun (☆☆☆☆) is to die for. More like a sweet bread, it is not quite fully baked, resulting in a dense, slightly doughy shell (which I love) surrounding an exquisite coconut paste and sprinkled with white sesame seeds. On top of that, it is barely sweet. Warm fresh out of the oven, its delirium-inducing goodness is the equal of Leonard’s malasadas. At only $1.25 a piece, eat these at your peril. You may not be able to stop at just one. If the bakery were in my neighborhood, I would be in serious trouble.
Update: Last Christmas Eve, fire destroyed the building that housed many businesses, Mon Hei among them. There have been no announced plans to rebuild the bakery, to the despair of its many customers.
Mon Hei Chinese Bakery (** closed **)
669 S King St
Seattle, WA 98104