Universal Bakery – Vancouver, BC

Universal Bakery
3815 Rupert Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 438-1920


Universal Bakery is a non-descript Portuguese bakery deep in Vancouver’s Eastside. I come here only for one thing – it is for their very good Portuguese Egg Tarts. To make the trip worth while, I also pick up a few other items – bread, sausages, and so forth. But really, I’m here for these tarts.


The proprietors are Portuguese and the tarts are in the style of Pasteis de Nata from Belem.  It is similar to the more common dim sum favourite – the Chinese Egg Tarts. The two tarts share a common history that traces back to Portuguese colonial influences in Macau.

The two pastries differ in the nuances but it is the darkly caramelized top of a Portuguese tart that truly differentiates it from the Asian variants. I personally prefer the tarts with larger areas of caramelization.

The Portuguese version’s custard filling is more dense in texture – it is closer to the resistant chewiness of soft caramel than the soft “set custard” texture of a Chinese Egg Tart.

The lard-shortened pie shell of a Portugese tart is less flaky than a Chinese Tart. The shells of some variants Chinese tarts are often made from a very flaky puff pastry instead of the usual short crust.

The flavour is also quite different – Chinese Egg Tarts are often subtly flavoured with coconut – perhaps through the use of a coconut based shortening rather than a deliberate flavour additive. The more complex flavour and aroma of Portuguese tart has hints of vanilla, cinnamon and lemon.

The best time to get these tarts are in the mid-to-late morning. At this time, the custard has had plenty of time to cool and truly set. Eat them too soon (eg when they are still warm from the oven) and the custard would be too soft. They keep well so rest assured that they will still be pretty good if you come by later in the day.

Universal Bakery on Urbanspoon

15 thoughts on “Universal Bakery – Vancouver, BC

  1. I guess we’re quite different this way gastro – i LOVE Portuguese egg tarts while they are still warm. That warm custard jiggle combined with the soothing warmth really works for me. There’s a place in San Jose that serves fresh Portuguese egg tarts that are divine.

    Great review though – maybe i’ll try them early in the morning and catch them on a lucky day!

    • They are good warm for sure – I usually have at least one for QA purposes if I manage to buy them straight out of the oven. I do like the resilient chewiness when it has cooled down and set.

    • They are giant Bundt-pan versions with a different (IIRC) type of shell/base. I haven’t had those in quite a while, so I don’t remember if the shell was a pound cake, short-crust (like a pie shell) or a shortcake.

  2. Since I suffer from a mild to medium sugar addiction, these are my go to sweets in China.

    My agent in Shanghai always brings me a box of them to the airport when I arrive, still warm from the oven.

  3. They just opened up a Cafe on Burrard between w 7th and w 6th Ave, where they serve coffee and select items from their bakery, as well as lunch and dinner specials.

  4. nini :

    How long can I keep those egg tarts ? Will they go bad the next day?

    Hmm…they never last that long here! 🙂
    I believe that hey are still good after a day. (You can buy day-olds there).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s