If you've seen "tuloy po kayo," the words of welcome posted on the door of many Filipino businesses, you might associate tikoy pudding with the Philippines.
To be sure, Lung Moon is a Chinese bakery, and the characters on this sign — "nian gao" or "year cake" — have associated meanings that resonate with good fortune during the Chinese New Year. In the Philippines, where most of the Chinese diaspora first spoke one of the Hokkien dialects of southeastern China, the food is known as tikoy pudding, a name derived from Hokkien. What's curious about this sign is that it bears the Romanization "tikoy" without the equivalent characters, which are different from those of "nian gao." In Manhattan's Chinatown, perhaps the sign is directed toward American-born, second- or later-generation Hokkien speakers who know tikoy pudding from holiday talk at home but never have need to write the characters. I've since encountered another sign, on a Canal St. market, whose Roman lettering may also be a transliteration from Hokkien.
As for "pudding," textures vary. This Southern Chinese rendition ($4.50), sweetened with brown sugar, employed a relatively low proportion of glutinous rice to non-glutinous rice. Steamed and allowed to set in a metal pan, it was thus very firm; note the marks where I had to work my knife back and forth to cut the cake free. Tikoy pudding can be eaten as is; firmer versions such as this can also be washed with egg and pan-fried.
The final photo shows the bakery and a neighbor, a discount store that has truthfully acknowledged rising prices by disdaining a "99 cent and under" name. It has also saddled itself with the implication, unfortunately, that you'll always need to spend an extra buck.Lung Moon Bakery
83 Mulberry St. (Canal-Baxter Sts.), Manhattan