Of all the things that I look forward to when planning a trip to Hong Kong, sampling desserts at one of the many dessert shops is high on my list. Luckily there are plenty of great dessert shops in and around Causeway Bay where I can get my fix after a good meal and/or while Mrs A|T shops.
View Hong Kong 2012 Dessert Tour in a larger map
While Hong Kong has all kinds of dessert places, I prefer to seek out some of the more traditional Hong Kong style sweets that are difficult to find or replicate anywhere else in the world. Unlike western desserts that are usually cream based and very sweet, Hong Kong desserts are typically very light and only cost a few dollars per serving (in US or Canadian dollars) which means that you can easily go dessert hopping after a meal and not feel guilty.
Two of the most traditional Hong Kong Desserts are Dun Lai and Tofu-fa. Dun Lai is a steamed milk pudding and is a favorite of Mrs A|T since she has a soy allergy. It’s a little firmer than a custard and is typically sweetened only very lightly. Our favorite place to have this is at the Yee Shun Milk Company in Causeway bay. Traditionally Dun Lai is served flavored with ginger, but at Yee Shun they have many options including coffee and chocolate flavors. It can also be served hot or cold.
Tofu-fa is a tofu based pudding. To many westerners used to Tofu being served with savory sauces the idea of a tofu based dessert may seem strange, but it is worth trying. Tofu-fa is made with the softest possible form of tofu, where it pretty much barely holds together. A decent jiggle of the bowl with start to break it up. In this form the tofu has almost no flavor but an amazing silky texture that makes an amazing dessert when paired with any kind of sweet liquid. There are many great places to get this dessert in Hong Kong but my favorite is Yan Wo Dou Bun Chong also in Causeway Bay. Like Dun Lai, the Tofu-fa is served hot or cold and is traditionally paired with a ginger sugar syrup or just a plain simple sugar syrup.
Another place that is well known for Tofu-fa is Auntie Sweet near the Tin Hau MTR station, but what they are famous for are their durian based desserts. I tried out their signature dish which is cold tofu-fa with a durian sauce and fresh durian fruit on top. Durian is infamous for its pungent scent that people may love or hate. The smell is so strong and offensive to some that it is banned in many places. The flavor and texture can range from soft and sweet with an almond flavor to firmer and garlicy/gingery. Unfortunately the one I had at Auntie Sweet (on the right) was very much on the garlic and gingery side and I didn’t really enjoy it that much.
Auntie Sweet also serves the contemporary tapioca and jelly style of dessert. These desserts are typically made with grass jelly, coconut jelly, or tapioca served with fruit and fruit purée or juice. One of the most popular places for these desserts is Honeymoon Dessert which has become so famous that it has grown to a full chain of dessert shops. There are two in Causeway Bay, a full sit-down restaurant version at the World Trade Center mall and a counter service version at the Times Square mall food court. My favorite dish from Honeymoon is mango and sweet black sticky rice in coconut milk.
While the quality and value of the desserts at Honeymoon are still very good, being a chain makes it a little less hip so we also checked out a couple of small shops. One of them, Cong Sao, is located next to the Holiday Inn Express near Times Square Mall in Causeway Bay. This place serves slightly more modern and stylish versions of the fruit desserts. This watermelon and tapoica dessert is very refreshing on a hot and humid Hong Kong evening.
Another place that we loved is Xiao Tian Gu near the Tin Hau MTR station. Xiao Tian Gu is in a bit of an industrial area where a number of new little restaurants and dessert places are opening up. This was my favorite of all the fruit dessert places. While the presentation of this mango and coconut tapioca dessert isn’t fancy, the tapioca has just the right amount of al dente bite to it.
I’ll follow-this map up with mini reviews of each shop. Be sure to check back soon for updates! For now be sure to check out the other spots from my Hong Kong Eatinery.
This post was submitted to Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox.