The best Hong Kong desserts and where to find them
Chinese characters: 蛋撻
What: Egg tarts made their first appearance in Guangzhou in the 1920s and have been a Hong Kong sweet staple ever since. The crumbly, buttery pastry crust with creamy egg custard in the center is part of Hong Kong’s dim sum tradition and are best fresh out of the oven and warm. Get them at local bakeries and cha chaan tengs.
Where: Tai Cheong bakery is a well-known joint that serves some of the best egg tarts in the city. They famously served egg tarts to Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong.
Chinese characters: 鷄蛋仔
What: Egg waffles, or gai daan zai, are an instantly recognisable and widely loved street snack that’s been keeping snackers in the city happy since the 1950s. An eggy batter is poured into purpose-made grills not unlike those of a European waffle maker, and after a few minutes, a hot golden-brown and bubble-shaped waffle emerges. They’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and traditionally eaten plain but now commonly made various flavourings like earl grey and chocolate or served with ice cream and sweet sauces.
Where: Tai O Egg Waffle Uncle in Tai O is one of the best. The sunglass-sporting uncle makes egg waffles traditionally, over a solitary and rather battered charcoal stove.
Chinese characters: 豆腐花
What: Tofu pudding, or dau fu fa, is another local sweet treat. The beancurd used in dau fu fa is very soft, and prepared in a bowl with clear syrup, coconut milk or sweetened ginger, and sometimes mixed with black bean paste.
Where: Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong makes all kinds of delicious bean curds, and their tofu pudding is no exception.
Chinese characters: 湯圓
What: Tong yuen are small and round white dumplings filled with a variation of sweet pastes including black sesame, peanut, red bean, or fruit preserves. Traditionally eaten during Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year, they are made by mixing a small amount of glutinous rice flour with water then filled with a sweet paste and formed into balls. They are then cooked and served in hot water or sweet syrup such as ginger.
Where: Fook Yuen Desserts is hailed by many as making the best tong yuen in town.
Chinese characters: 雙皮奶
What: Simple yet delicious, ‘double skin’ milk pudding is a creamy treat. Typically made using only egg white, milk and sugar, the trick lies in getting the double layered skin to form on the surface. Though not the most appealing in name, a taste of this warm and smooth pudding immediately warms the belly.
Where: Yee Shun Dairy Company is famous for its milk pudding. The restaurant has been making the sweet, tasty mixture with finesse for many years.
Chinese characters: 紅豆沙
What: Red bean soup is slow-cooked to create a thick, creamy texture, and can be found in most Hong Kong dessert shops. This sweet, warming soup goes down a treat in the winter months. The beans are packed with iron and, according to Chinese medicine, they’re full of yang-replenishing nutrients, too. So get some in you, because, you know, health.
Where: Luk Lam Dessert is famous for its Hong Kong style desserts. Patrons love the sweet soups here and various styles of melt-in-your-mouth tofu pudding.
Chinese characters: 芝麻糊
What: Black sesame sweet soup is popular all over China and in Singapore, too. A bowl of this hot, sticky soup may be comfortingly charcoal-like in its hue, but it’s one of the best ways enjoy black sesame. Some restaurants add tong yuen in for some texture.
Where: Gai Gai Dessert is one of Hong Kong’s most lauded dessert houses and they make a killer black sesame soup.
Chinese characters: 楊枝甘露
What: Mango pudding is the best of the best when it comes to relieving Hong Kong’s sweltering summer heat. Thick mango chunks nestle in a bed of cool, creamy puree and the dessert is bursting with citrusy aromas from the juicy pomelo. The sago adds a satisfying squidgy-ness and once you’ve had one, you’ll be addicted.
Where: Honeymoon Desserts is famous for its mango desserts. Head over there for a mouth-watering portion – or two. We won’t tell.
Chinese characters: 腐竹糖水
What: Also known as tofu skin sweet soup or fu chuk tong sui, this is another local delight with tofu skin — which have a slightly savoury taste — boiled with white rock sugar. Chefs add in additional ingredients, usually lily bulbs and gingko for a fantastically textured soup.
Where: Chiu Chow Hop Shing Dessert’s beancurd sheet sweet soup is a hit, whether served hot or cold. Staff are super friendly and opens late in case you get some twilight beancurd cravings.
Chinese characters: 桑寄生蓮子蛋茶
What: For those in search of a real local Hong Kong dessert, sang ji sheung sweet soup is a must-try. The literal translation of its name is mulberry mistletoe, lotus seed and egg tea, which gives you an inkling of its unique flavour. It’s known in Chinese medicine as having many health benefits. Try some and your body will thank you.
Where: Yuen Kee Dessert in Sai Ying Pun is the king of traditional desserts but their sang ji sheung sweet soup is tops.