Walking into ECK Bakery, 6918 Wilcrest Drive, 281-933-6808, there is rarely more than one other customer. Sometimes there is a lady reading a Chinese newspaper manning the counter. Sometimes the owner is there. You'll recognize him from all the pictures he has hanging on the wall, pictures of him standing next to Mayor Annise Parker or Yao Ming.
The bakery opens from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., selling a small selection of baked goods such as pate chaud and barbecue bao. Its claim to fame however, on display in a small unremarkable acrylic case with two small shelves, is their egg custard tarts.
"They are so good," said my friend Mimi, who found the place on Yelp and told me that "ECK" stands for "Egg Custard King." Ever the skeptic, I visited a few weeks ago to try these heavenly creations myself. The verdict? Without a doubt the most delectable, memorable, unfailingly consistent and delicious egg custard you'll ever have the pleasure of eating. Here is something for the producers of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate."[jump]
Visit in the morning, and the tarts will come out still hot from the kitchen.The crust is incredibly light and flaky. When you pick one up, it sags in the middle with the weight of the filling, made of a very lightly sweetened, creamy yellow custard. The texture of the custard is creamy like a creme brulee, only lighter and silkier, like French custard crémeux. It is similar to a French flan nature, but much more delicate. The combination of flake and filling is so utterly fantastic that you'll inhale the first and undoubtedly reach for another.
My first time, I bought two and ate them both. My second visit, I bought three and ate them all. My third visit, I contemplated buying a dozen, but I was worried that I'd eat them all myself instead of giving them away, so I refrained.
Not that it stops other people from indulging. On a recent afternoon when I stopped in for an afternoon snack, I watched from the sidelines as two young women came in and each bought a dozen custard tarts. "Are they all for you?" I asked, jokingly. "Yes," one of the women replied. "You mean, these aren't for your family or for anyone else?" "No," the woman responded. "I'm going to eat them all."
The price is also a big plus. For the price of one fancy cupcake at one of the popular cupcake shops around town, you can get four egg custard tarts at ECK. One custard tart costs only one dollar, and when you buy a dozen, the price gets discounted to $11. Inexpensive and delicious. One dozen egg custard tarts, anyone?