| Sweets |

Weird and Wonderful $1 Pastries at Six Ping Bakery

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I have a major weakness for sweets. Major. So put me in a tiny bakery with shelves filled with cellophane wrapped pastries in a room that's not much bigger than your average bedroom and what happens? I go a little bit crazy.

There were cute little piggy-faced "Super Q Kawaii" pastries at Six Ping Bakery (9384 Bellaire Blvd). There were turtle-shaped pastries, lobster-shaped pastries and crab-shaped pastries. There were cylindrical green sponge cakes, and cream-filled yellow cakes that looked like they would put a Twinkie to shame (I tried them, and they did, in fact, blow Twinkies out of the ballpark).

There was even a weird but strangely delightful "brown sugar mochi" cake, a pastry that was filled with what was basically a brown sugar-flavored goo. Reminiscent of a filled donut, the pastry shell was soft and slightly sweet, while the not-quite-oozing glutinous rice flour innard was slightly chewy but pleasantly flavored.

The oblong-shaped pastries tasted a bit like Hawaiian Bread, soft and spongy and slightly sweet, and they were stuffed with everything from custard to dry pork sung, a shredded, sweet-and-salty, dry pork. The sponge cakes were super-airy, softer and more moist, but less dense than angel food cake. Everything I tasted was delicious, and it obvious that everything had been baked fresh that day.

What provided the highest degree of glee, however, was the affordability of it all: Virtually all of the little heavenly pillows of baked goods cost a whopping $1 inclusive of tax (larger pastries and meat-filled ones ran about $1.50). One easy-to-part-with dollar bill that I didn't need any way.

I loaded up my orange cafeteria tray with pretty much whatever caught my fancy. And I wasn't the only one. While I was there, a small flood of patrons caused a minor traffic jam as people greedily filled their trays with an assortment of baked goods rivaling mine.

You see, the place is so small that there's no room for baskets. When you enter, there's a small rack of orange cafeteria trays next to the door, and you just pluck what you want from the shelves, put it on your tray, then bring the tray to the counter to pay.

It didn't help that the sweet and welcoming smell of the baked goods immediately impaled your senses as you entered the tiny hole-in-the-wall Six Ping Bakery. Nor did it help that everything was a hand's breadth away. Complete and easy access in my case meant completely out of control, and so my $1 expenditure became something like a $10 expenditure. It was my Willy Wonka moment. I really couldn't help it.

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