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The birthday cake at Phoenix Bakery in Chinatown is more than just a tradition; it's a part of Los Angeles lore. Since 1938, the Chan family has been frosting over their sugary-sweet white cake, a moist cross between angel food cake and a Twinkie, with large chunks of sweet strawberry layered inside. You'll also find a small selection of savories under the light blue awning on Broadway, like the bulbous steamed pork buns, but don't be fooled -- it's all about the birthday cake. At once overwhelming and simple, the rich "not-so-Chinese" cakes have been found in Dodger dugouts, Lakers locker rooms and at City Hall for more than 75 years, making Phoenix Bakery the oldest operating sweets shop in Chinatown. Not bad for a third-generation family cake business.
L.A.'s a relatively young town, but we have our traditions. And they reflect our diversity: El Cholo for a family reunion. Zankou Chicken take-home for a new roommate. After-hours karaoke in Koreatown to celebrate a big account with the boss. Few Angeleno traditions are older than a birthday cake from Phoenix Bakery, founded in 1938 and the longest-surviving such business in Chinatown. The owners call their specialty a "not-so-Chinese cake," which is true. (Though, curiously, it is now... More »
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