There's nothing better than the sweet smell of freshly baked bread. From the glass window that displays baked goods of all kinds to the fragrance that wafts in the air, Chinese bakeries are the place to go for classic Chinese flavors. Not to mention, Chinese bakeries have become a platform for innovative pastries that are setting new trends in the pastry world. As Asian culture becomes more mainstream in the US, Chinese bakeries have been popping up all around in places like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other culinary hubs in the country. 

Instead of baguettes, donuts, and loaves of bread, Chinese bakeries mostly sell buns and pastries that feature Asian flavors. A lot of the time, Chinese bakeries are self-serve, meaning that you grab a tray and use tongs to pick up what you want before going to the cashier, but others will also look like a typical American donut shop. The next time you stop by a Chinese bakery, here are some of the baked goods that you're most likely to run into. 

Red Bean Bun 

QingDao Red Bean Bun

snowpea&bokchoi on Flickr

Red bean is one of the most classic flavors for Asian pastries, and even Asian desserts in general. Similarly, red bean buns aren't exclusively Chinese but can be found in Japan and Korea as well. Some Chinese bakeries bake red bean buns in the oven to produce a golden brown raindrop-shaped bun that's filled with a sweet, silky smooth red bean filling, while other Chinese bakeries will steam the buns to make a white, fluffy dough. 

Pineapple Bun

Good Afternoon photo by Henry & Co. (@hngstrm) on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

Despite the name, pineapple buns don't actually have any pineapple flavor; rather, they're baked with a pie crust topping that resembles the pattern of a pineapple. These pastries are your average soft and fluffy golden brown buns, with a crispy and flaky layer of dough on the top that tastes almost like a warm sugar cookie. 

BBQ Pork Bun

03 Baked BBQ Pork Bun - Fuji Bakery

jasonlam on Flickr

If you like Cantonese BBQ pork, or char siu, you're going to love this fluffy bun, which is completely filled with the sweet and salty marinated meat. Think of it like a mini Chinese takeout meat sandwich that's convenient to take around and eat on the go.

Dirty Dirty Bun

Chocolate dirty dirty buns, or zang zang bao, are the latest bread craze in China. These buns are impossible to eat without making a total mess of your face. That's because dirty dirty buns are a flaky croissant filled with a creamy chocolate filling, doused with a chocolate sauce and cocoa powder. Chocolate lovers, this is what you've been waiting for. 

Hot Dog Buns

little pigs in little blankets

anokarina on Flickr

Hot dog buns can come in all different shapes and sizes at Chinese bakeries. Sometimes you'll find hot dogs sitting on fluffy white bread, other times they'll be baked inside a crispy croissant, and sometimes they'll even be wrapped in a decadent roll. While some hot dog buns are just plain bread and hot dog, others are loaded with toppings like cheese, ketchup, garlic powder, and so much more. 

Pork Floss Bun

Pork Floss Buns

lemonfilmblog on Flickr

Pork floss isn't the most appetizing English translation of a Chinese food, but to put it simply, pork floss is dried pork that has a crispy and somewhat powdery texture and that tastes sweet and savory, almost like barbecue pork. A pork floss bun is an oblong bread bun topped with a thin layer of salad dressing or sweet mayo and rolled in pork floss. Without a doubt, pork floss buns taste way better than they sound.

Egg Tart

Egg Custard Buns

Clotee Pridgen Allochuku on Flickr

Egg tarts are one of the most popular desserts in Hong Kong. With a flaky tart crust and a creamy egg custard filling, egg tarts are bite-sized pastries that are so addicting, you won't just want to eat one. If you like fruit tarts, just subtract the fruit and add more egg flavor, and you've got an egg tart. 

Taro Bun

If you've never heard of taro before, it's kind of like the Asian version of sweet potato. More specifically, it is a starchy root vegetable that has a purplish hue and a subtle sweet flavor. Mashed together with sugar and cream, taro makes a rich and smooth filling for Chinese pastries. With a soft fluffy exterior and a sweet potatoey interior, taro buns are carb-loaded rolls of sugary goodness. 

Cocktail Buns

Rest assured, despite their name, cocktail buns don't actually contain any alcohol. However, they do contain an intoxicating amount of sweet coconut flake filling. Cocktail buns are usually long golden brown buns that are striped with dough and covered in sesame seeds. 

Black Sesame Bun

Speaking of sesame seeds, black sesame is another classic flavor of Asian desserts that you'll often see in mochi and even ice cream. By grinding black sesame seeds with sugar, you get a sweet, nutty sesame paste that pairs well with fluffy bread. If you're a fan of chia seeds and flax seeds, these black sesame buns will fulfill your bun fantasies.  

Anything Matcha

Matcha Cream Puff

Kirinohana on Flickr

Matcha, or green tea, has become one of the trendiest–if not THE trendiest–Asian flavor in the world. This combination of sweet and bitter blends well with any type of pastry, from cream puffs to cakes to buns and everything in between. Chinese bakeries especially have integrated matcha all throughout their menu, so don't hesitate to try the most creative matcha pastry you can find. 

Chinese baked goods are perfect for a quick on-the-go breakfast or a satisfying post-dinner dessert, so there's no harm in picking up a few buns at a local Chinese bakery. Rather than grabbing a chocolate-covered donut, pick up a chocolate dirty dirty bun or switch out a chocolate chip cookie for a pineapple bun the next time you're craving sweets. If you like bread and sweets, Chinese bakeries are your culinary heaven on earth.