The peanut butter sandwich is a classic. Many of us grew up on them, and some of us have never outgrown them. There have been any number of variations on this classic theme, from chef-inspired versions to those featuring the word (gag) artisanal. For a decidedly unaffected take on the peanut butter sammie, head to the San Gabriel Valley to one of the locations of bustling Hong Kong mini-chain, Tasty Garden, and try the peanut butter pizza.
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Let's get the terminology out of the way. This is not a pizza. Known as a báobǐng in Mandarin, it's a thick flat bread, a Chinese pancake. It's more like a scallion pancake (minus the scallions) with peanut butter filling or a queso-less quesadilla with thicker tortillas.
Served warm, inside is a smear of peanut butter, chunks of peanuts, sesame seeds and small shards of coconut. Crisp, pan-browned and chewy, it's a wonderful combination of flavors, perfect with one of the milk teas on the menu. If you stop by between 3 and 5:30 p.m., this ideal coupling -- PB pizza and a HK-style milk tea -- is a special on the Afternoon Tea menu.
Tasty Garden has three other "pizzas" on the menu: red bean, green bean and the House Special Salted. The latter is unfilled, reminding one of a whole wheat tortilla with some parsley mixed in, and is the only other "pizza" available as part of the Afternoon Tea menu special. And, while each of these have merits of their own, it's the PB version we find ourselves coming back to.
Tasty Garden: 288 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra, (626) 300-8262.; 1212 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 445-9388.; 500 N. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park, (626) 872-0900.