When I'm traveling I basically make it my mission to fill my body with as many new foods as it can handle before it turns on me. (Moment of silence for when it turns on me.)
I'm also, like, pretty type A and I like to feel like I have a plan or am conducting some sort of research project even when I'm just on vacation. You're probably like...right, we know this because of this blog. Whatever. Let me live. The point is that sometimes instead of just randomly shoving whatever is in front of me into my face, I actually prefer to pick a few things that I'm going to sample all over the city or country.
One of the most surprising things to me about Hong Kong has been the unbelievable number of BAKERIES in this city. I had no idea. There are, no exaggeration, bakeries in basically every single MTR station and on almost every city block. It is weird and glorious. Even if I'm not hungry, sometimes I'll walk into a bakery and look at the translations on the little boxes because they say things like "cheese and pork floss bun" which is stimulating to my imagination because I get to imagine flossing my teeth with pork. What fun!
I'm not over the moon about Hong Kong desserts BUT if you categorize them as snacks and still eat ice cream or chocolate or waffles to scratch the dessert itch, you'll be quite pleased. These are all good with coffee or for walking and eating. Here are the top 5 baked goods in Hong Kong. Arm yourself with the knowledge.
Pineapple bun - Bo Lo Bao
Bao means bun. Write that down. You should all be taking notes or maybe just bookmarking this page because I'm giving you INVALUABLE information here. Pineapple buns have no pineapple in them but they apparently look like a pineapple because of the cookie-like topping. This makes me really doubt Hong Kong's ability to identify fruit BUT I will forgive them because these buns are delicious. The topping is crispy (unless you take it out into the humidity for too long) and they are filled with a pat of butter which is like...genius. It is inspiring to me, actually. I'm gonna start impressing you guys by just ending all my recipes with the imperative to throw a pat of butter on everything. Thanks, Hong Kong.
Egg tart - Dan Tat
Egg tarts are a Portuguese import to Macau, which is a small island near Hong Kong that can most easily be characterized as the Los Vegas of Asia. It was colonized by the Portuguese and then Hong Kongers were like "yo, those tarts are dank, we should eat them." Apparently, they also are traced back to British custard pies, but I feel like a British person wrote that because they think everything is traced back to them.
Here's my thing about egg tarts - when they're good, they're unbelievable. Very smooth, not too sweet and really a delight. When they're mediocre, I really don't like them. The custard can often be heavy and sometimes lumpy. I'm telling you this because I don't want you to get discouraged! Keep trying for that epic egg tart. I like the one at Daily Bread in Sheung Wan.
Sweetheart cake - Lo Po Beng
Ok, to be honest, I have not been impressed by this particular cake but a lot of people like them so I am trying to be democratic and let you decide for yourself what you like. (Adulthood? I think so.) Basically they're little disks of paste wrapped in flaky pastry. The is usually made of almond, sesame or a spice blend. You are now empowered with the information to make an educated choice, so don't mess up. (Get the pineapple butter bun!!!!!!)
YES these are so delicious. This particular custard bun was a little like a pineapple bun with egg tart filling but they're all quite different. Actually, there are a lot of different types of things that all seem to get translated as custard bun, so you can play custard bun roulette and see what you get. Some are steamed (usually the steamed ones come from dim sum restaurants) and some are baked. These are baked. They're a little like custard-filled doughnuts!
Pork bun - Cha Siu Bao
Cha siu means barbecued pork. I know, very predictable that this would be one of the only Cantonese phrases I know. Anyway, these buns are super popular with many people and though they are not my favorite, even the mediocre ones are worth a taste. The bread is light and sweet, and the pork is usually a little sweet and a little savory. The texture depends on the bun but typically the pork has a really satisfying chew. YUM get into it.
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