Share & Compare: Bagels

This month, TALK went down the bagel hole to discover which vendor of rolls-with-a-hole has the best in town. We taste tested plain bagels from each establishment then let them recommend a ‘wild card’ option. We devoured both varieties bare as the day they were baked, then in rapid carbohydrate-fueled succession tried them plain toasted, topped with cream cheese, adorned with lox and dipped in tiger blood. Serious bagels call for serious measures.

Egghead Bagels

Plain Bagel: All but one taster took issue with the extreme density of Egghead’s au natural option, while the rest of the crew threw adjectives like “heavy” and “too doughy” around the table. Then the single holdout tried the bacon cream cheese. Not unlike licking a frying pan after burning a rasher, it proved once and for all that not everything goes with bacon. Despite the initial letdown, the plain and garlic spreads proved to be some of the best of the whole tasting.

Wild Card (Everything Bagel): Topped with sesame seeds and incorporating an intangible sprinkling of garlic and onion, Egghead’s Everything fell apart from the first step – literally. Yielding to knife pressure, the bagel crumbled in our hands despite being purchased mere hours beforehand. Then came the sodium invasion; heavy-handed with the saltshaker and the priciest of the bunch, this one didn’t make it far.

Cost: RMB 16 per bagel, including 100g cream cheese

Haya’s Mediterranean Bakery

Plain Bagel: Everyone agreed the Haya’s bagel was the worst of the lot, what with its unbearably chewy core, but it was really the cream cheese that did us in. Abnormally white in comparison to its competitors, Haya’s spread was whipped then doused with lemon juice, making it taste like tzatziki gone wrong. Once toasted the bagel lost its toughness because it was so thin, but then came out tasting like, well, toast.

Wild Card (Garlic Bagel): The Haya’s Wild Card was quickly discarded in favour of the other options, with grumbles of “tastes like burnt garlic” following the bagel to it’s plated grave. Barely touched, except to see if it could redeem itself with a scoop of cream cheese from the other contenders, Haya’s saw the last of its fans disappear.

Cost: RMB 5 per bagel, RMB 25 / 250g cream cheese

Spread the Bagel

Plain Bagel: Smaller in diameter by about an inch than the other options, STB’s carb round made up for its width by plumping up nicely, literally standing head and shoulders above its competitors. Salted to perfection with a buttery finish, there was nothing but fans in our group of taste testers. The plain cream cheese was also well received, but once the honey walnut spread was opened, the room went quiet except for the occasional moan of “This is amaaaaaaazing!”.

Wild Card (Everything Bagel): An Everything bagel that doesn’t play around, it was decorated with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic and onions. The eye-popping flavours showed through the entire bagel, and one intrepid taste tester even confirmed that the exceptionally savoury delight still tasted good with the honey walnut.

Price: Orders by the half-dozen start at RMB 45, including 240g plain cream cheese. RMB 35 for 240g of honey walnut cream cheese

Winner: Spread the Bagel

Four out of five bagel lovers recommend STB, and all five would do unthinkable acts for a tub of the honey walnut spread. Maybe it’s the price, maybe it’s the fact the bagels are made to order. All we know is that STB’s final product were the first ones off the plates and the last ones we were still talking about.