November 29, 2006

Eggettes

A few weeks ago a new eatery opened just a few blocks away from my home in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco. Called Eggettes, it’s located at 2810 Diamond Street, in the space formerly occupied by Dr. Video. While the store was being renovated, I could tell from the decor that it was going to be a Hong Kong-style snack joint/cybercaf√© and suspected (rightly, I’m pleased to say) that they’d serve bubble tea. But I didn’t quite get what the name was all about. When the shop opened I had to search a bit to find something called “eggettes” on the menu, and considering that this eponymous food was supposed to be the restaurant’s signature product, I found it odd that there was no photograph or description.

When we walked in, we saw what turned out to be the eggettes displayed behind a glass case next to the cash register, labeled with their flavors but not the word “eggettes.” I inferred that’s what they were from the fact that they were vaguely egg-shaped and that it seemed to be the only food item on display. So, lesson #1: if you want to attract new customers, and if you want those customers to have any idea why they should come in and order your wacky new food, give them at least a tiny clue as to what that food actually is.

Well, we decided there was little to lose by ordering the things without any explanation, so we asked for one order each of original, chocolate, and coconut flavors (sesame was also an option). What we were served is called gai daan jai in Hong Kong, and often described as egg puffs or egg waffles. They’re made by taking a thin batter (not unlike a sweeter waffle or pancake batter) and cooking it on a special iron with small egg-shaped indentations on both plates. The result is a sheet of little dough eggs you can break apart. They’re slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, almost like beignets. And let me end the suspense: they’re delicious. I mean, seriously, addictively delicious. I could almost give up doughnuts for these things. But although they’re relatively light and relatively low in fat, they’re clearly full of sugar and nasty carbs—no surprises there.

So, eggettes are a winner. The Eggettes store, on the other hand (apparently just the latest in a small chain), needs some work. The food was great and the staff was friendly, but the place has, shall we say, user interface issues. The lack of an explanation of eggettes on the menu is just one example. We decided to plop down on the couch and watch the DVD that was playing on their big flat-screen TV, but we couldn’t figure out how to adjust the volume (turns out the staff controls the remotes, but they also had to do some rewiring of the speakers to get any noise to come out). We noticed the card reader on the cash register and tried to pay with plastic, but the cashier informed us apologetically that they hadn’t yet managed to get a merchant account. And although there are a few Net-connected computer kiosks, you have to stand to use them—not the most comfortable arrangement. The store is neat, shiny, and spacious but not cozy, and that’s a big strike against it in my book.

Nevertheless, I’m sure I’ll return for eggettes and bubble tea whenever I need a quick break from the South Beach Diet. You can do worse.

2 Responses to “Eggettes”

  1. Nate said:

    Hello, I’ve been feverishly searching, for months off and on, for the elusive “egg cake” or “gai daan jai” maker. Do you know of any retailer that sells them? Thanks for your posting … little by little, I’m gathering more clues about these wonderful little edibles!

    Nate

  2. Joe Kissell said:

    The only place I’ve seen them online is eBay Hong Kong:

    http://cgi.ebay.com.hk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150209559993&ih=005&category=68674&ssPageName=WDVW&rd=1