HK Eats: Sweet Treats

Since these treats are so small, I’ve decided to roll these write-ups into one. Ha ha, alright, first up we have Roll. Roll was my first foray into contemporary HK bakeries and restaurants. Who needs social media when you can advertise to hundreds of people in Central? I usually avoid pamphlets people hand out in the street. However, a bright pink pamphlet with a photo of a cake caught my eye so I grabbed a pamphlet. Turned out it was for a new branch of bakery in Central.

Roll sells a selection of pastries and baked goods including macarons, brownies and cookies as well as frozen yogurt. It of courses sells, as its name suggests, swiss rolls which come in regular and mini size.

Move over, cupcakes and macarons, there are new mini treats in town! A swiss roll is a sheet of cake with a layer of cream rolled up. This cake likely came from the British, and HK bakeries soon popularised it.  It’s common to find swiss rolls in HK western-style bakeries.

The staff were very friendly and patient while I decided on what kind of cake to get. I chose the mini black sesame roll. This was a black sesame sheet cake made with charcoal powder with a layer of black sesame paste spread on top and a layer of whipped cream, all rolled up. There was an intense black sesame flavour. The sesame paste was quite sweet, but it mostly balanced out the less sweet cake.

This seems like a dangerous place for me because I want to try all the different flavours, particularly chestnut, green tea and mango. They are only HK $10 each (~CDN $1.40).

Roll recently opened a new location at G/F, No 40, Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong.

For a more traditional HK treat, I went to Tai Cheong, a bakery famous for its egg tarts. This is partly because Chris Patten, the former governor of Hong Kong, once said it was the best egg tart in Hong Kong.

When I passed by the bakery after work, someone had just bought the last two. I waited a couple more minutes and a fresh batch came out! I had to get one. The woman gave me a knowing smile when I ordered.

The egg tart used a shortbread pastry as opposed to a flaky crust. I generally prefer flaky crusts, but this shortbread crust truly made the egg tart. It had a hint of salt which was the perfect contrast to the sweet custard. The crust was baked perfectly all throughout and was still crispy. The custard was smooth and slightly jiggly and just glorious. My favourite part was still the crust though.

The egg tarts in Toronto can’t compare to Tai Cheong’s. These were fresh out of the oven and there was no weird metallic after taste. Of course I won’t say no if you give me an egg tart back home 😉

Tai Cheong is located at G/F, 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong.

Finally, last week as I was going home a vendor at the corner of D’Aguilar and Wellington Street convinced me to try one of the last few of these treats for the day. I had been eyeying this little vendor for weeks, but I was too nervous just to point to anything and try it. I still didn’t know what this was when I bought it, but I felt more comfortable buying at the end of the day.

Well, I should have tried this “stall” earlier because was this was delightful! This had a chewy and herbal-tasting exterior with a ground peanut and sugar paste filling. It was extremely sticky and hard to peel off the bamboo at the bottom, but a fun treat to eat.

So, what exactly is “this”? It took a surprising amount of effort to find out. My parents could read the sign but didn’t know what it was. My grandmother enlightened us all. This is called “gai ji gwor” which translates literally to “chicken purple fruit.”

This dessert is made from the leaves of a vine called “Gai Zi” which translates to “chicken poop,” due to the apparently similar aroma! The leaves are ground and mixed with flour and water to make a dough. For the gai ji gwor filling was added and then steamed.

In order not to turn people off, the vendor wrote “purple,” a homophone of “poop” in Cantonese. According to my grandmother, this is usually only sold during the period of Tuen Ng Tsit (Dragon Boat Festival), so I was lucky I caught this.

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