LA's Trendy Needle Restaurant Takes French Toast To A Decadent New Level

American Chinese food is known to differ quite a bit from what you'd actually find if you traveled to the country. Dishes like crab rangoon, egg rolls, and General Tsao's chicken may have a place in this author's heart — and her takeout orders — but if you're looking for something more authentic, restaurants that specialize in regional Chinese cuisine are a good bet.

If you want something mouth-numbingly spicy, Sichuan food could fit the bill, Business Insider notes. Dishes served in coastal Shandong tend to be salty and crispy. And Cantonese food — served in Southern China, including Hong Kong — veers more on the sweet side (via Serious Eats).

You can find an excellent version of Cantonese cuisine at LA's Needle, located in trendy Silver Lake. The restaurant, with first-time owner Ryan Wong at the helm, went through a few different iterations to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic (per Needle). However, it has always focused on a simple menu and well-thought-out details. Despite prizing simplicity, the restaurant certainly doesn't skimp on flavor – as evidenced by its over-the-top French toast that has been a mega hit with LA brunchers.

French toast, meet duck egg yolk

Typically, French toast is a simple dish made with ingredients you can find around your home: bread, eggs, and cream or milk. But Chef Ryan Wong of Needle wanted to introduce a Hong Kong take on the comforting dish. Before the pandemic, Wong tried out traditional recipes from the region that feature peanut butter, he told Tasting Table.

"Fast forward a couple of years, and we're rolling out brunch yet again," he said. "I've always wanted to do a salted egg yolk-stuffed French toast but dreaded the process of fine-tuning a recipe. This time I knew I had to make this happen."

Key to Wong's vision was figuring out how to get the perfect mouthfeel for the custard. Wong wanted it to be smooth and viscous enough that diners could scrape the filling up with the bread. To make the custard, Wong cures duck eggs, which have a high fat content and a rich flavor, in a salt brine. He chops and steams the cured yolks before folding them into the custard.

"I spent about a week figuring out a recipe and dialing it in," Wong told us. "This French toast is everything you'll ever want in a French toast: It's crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, salty and sweet, creamy and rich, eggy and moist."

His customers seem to agree. "The reception has been amazing," Wong said. "People are blown away because they've never had a French toast like this before."