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The Best 7 Hong Kong Desserts and Where to Find Them

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3 weeks ago

Hong Kong’s flavors are known all around the world for their subtlety, freshness and colors. We all know bubble tea (where did that really begin?), but there are some very unique Hong Kong desserts that every traveler should try.

After living in Hong Kong for a number of years, we’ve worked exceptionally hard at taste-testing the most unique Hong Kong desserts. Some can only be found in specific neighborhoods and shops – but don’t worry, we’ve curated this guide to help you locate them.

You might realize that you’ve seen some of these desserts before. Hong Kong has long been a cultural melting pot and many Hong Kong desserts draw from the influence of the British and Portuguese Empires, waves of migrants from Mainland China and more recent cultural ties with Taiwan and Japan.

However, some of these desserts can only exclusively be found in Hong Kong. We’ve set out where you can find them so you don’t miss out.

1. Hong Kong egg tart

Many are surprised to find out that the egg tart has a long history in Southern China. Early colonial trading with the British and Portuguese Empires across Guangdong province, Hong Kong and Macau led many European flavors to subtly enter Cantonese cuisine.

By the early 1900s, different kinds of egg tarts emerged across Southern China. The Hong Kong-style egg tart is filled with steamed egg custard (closer to a British custard pudding). Unlike Hong Kong’s other desserts, I find egg tarts to be a simple three bites and I’m done – meaning they are a little guilty pleasure you can enjoy between meals.

Vegetarians should note that Hong Kong egg tarts are often made with lard and it pays to double check before buying (lard is 豬油, zyu jau in Cantonese). For more tips on being vegetarian or vegan in Hong Kong, don’t miss our comprehensive guide to vegetarian food in Hong Kong.

Best place to try Hong Kong egg tart in Hong Kong

Historically, egg tarts first emerged in cha chaan tengs which are Hong Kong-style cafes. If you are following our 3 day Hong Kong itinerary, you’ll visit a few of the more iconic cha chaan tengs where you can usually find egg tarts on the menu.

Otherwise, Tai Cheong Bakery in Central is often considered the quintessential egg tart store and you’ll find a long line out the door. Bakehouse is also extremely popular for their sourdough egg tarts (my personal favorite).

If you are planning a day trip to Macau, try the Macanese egg tart – which is far closer to the Portuguese pastel de nata.

2. Hong Kong egg waffles

Egg waffles have become one of Hong Kong’s more recent popular exports. From Bangkok to London, you’ll find stores selling variations of Hong Kong egg waffles – usually filled with ice cream.

Ever since being introduced to egg waffles, I don’t even bother with traditional waffles anymore. The only way I can describe Hong Kong egg waffles is like an ordinary waffle, but instead of being flat, the egg waffle has around 20 small bubbles, which are usually somewhat gooey.

Egg waffles are known in Cantonese as gai daan jai (雞蛋仔) – literally, ‘little chicken eggs’

In recent years, artisan egg waffleries (yes, I made that word up) have emerged selling flavor combinations as diverse as matcha chocolate chip (my order) to pork floss and cheese.

Best place for Hong Kong egg waffles in Hong Kong

Across Hong Kong – and particularly around Mong Kok – you’ll see small stalls selling assorted Cantonese foods and egg waffles. Unfortunately, not all egg waffles are created equal and I find your average egg waffle to be a little bland, dry or, in the opposite extreme, doused in butter.

hong kong busy street signs neon foot massage sign

I strongly recommend seeking out either Mammy Pancakes (Michelin recommended) or Lee Keung Kee North Point for the perfect balance of gooeyness and flavor.

3. Egg rolls

Hong Kong egg rolls can best be described as extremely thin crispy rolled egg pancakes, flavored with sugar and butters (yes, in plural). You can usually find a few other flavors, and my favorite is the coconut.

Egg rolls are normally sold in larger aluminium tins, making them a bit of a difficult snack (unless you’re very hungry). Rather, I usually recommend visitors buy a box as a unique souvenir to bring home!

Best place for egg rolls in Hong Kong

There really isn’t any debate here. The family-run Duck Shing Ho shop in North Point has been a Hong Kong institution for decades. You’ll need to wait in line, and there’s often a minimum order, but this nostalgic Hong Kong shop offers one of the best Hong Kong dessert experiences around.

4. Mango sago pomelo dessert

I’m using ‘mango sago pomelo dessert’ as a catch-all phrase for the fruity, icy, sago ball-filled desserts which characterize many classic ‘Hong Kong dessert restaurants’.

Hong Kong’s iconic dessert concoction comes in various forms, but generally includes fresh fruit, sweet sago balls, a scoop of sorbet and occasionally some coconut milk, soy milk or silky tofu. The most famous of these perfectly balanced desserts among travelers is the mango sago pomelo combination because, let’s be honest, everybody loves mango!

These Cantonese desserts are extremely addictive and perfectly matched with Hong Kong’s climate. In the Hong Kong summer, I’ll often have one of these a day. I usually recommend visitors start with mango sago pomelo and then try other flavors.

Best place for mango sago dessert in Hong Kong

These desserts are consistently good across Hong Kong. When you’re in the mood for something fresh, simply search ‘Hong Kong desserts’ in your Google maps and the odds are there will be a little neighborhood Cantonese dessert shop nearby.

In saying that, here are some of my favorites across the city:

  • Tofa Dream (夢想豆花) (Soho): I realize most travellers tend to stay around Central. Tofa may be a little overpriced and is probably not be the best in Hong Kong, but it’s a solid offering in the heart of the action. I usually order the mango sago soy milk here.
  • C Dessert (Wan Chai): offers a newer, more contemporary design. C Dessert gets busy so you may need to line up. If you are here, don’t miss the Longan sorbet with nata de coco.
  • Sweet Dreamer (Kennedy Town): my favorite Hong Kong dessert bar west of Central. Ideally located just a few steps from the waterfront.

5. Mochi

I recently heard someone say mochi may have started in Taiwan but was perfected in Hong Kong. Regardless of where it began (I’m avoiding this topic), today mochi is one of the most popular Hong Kong desserts.

These gooey rice flour balls are stuffed with anything from peanuts and sugar to mango or red beans. Depending on my mood, I usually order fresh mango (a Hong Kong speciality) or peanuts and sugar.

Best place for mochi in Hong Kong

You’ll often stumble across a tiny little street-facing mochi store when you least expect it. To help the mochi economy, I strongly recommend buying them whenever you see them.

I have a few regular mochi places in some of my favorite neighborhoods, including these tiny snack shops in Wan Chai, Yau Ma Tei and Tuen Mun.

It’s worth mentioning that Cheng Chau Island is often considered a popular spot for fresh mango mochi and you’ll find quite a few stores when exploring the island.

6. Mobile Softee

I couldn’t not include the Mobile Softee van in an article about traditional Hong Kong desserts. This soft serve ice cream truck is as iconic to Hongkongers as the ding ding trams or Star Ferry. And, best of all, the Mobile Softee truck always seems to appear when you need it most.

Most Mr Whippee vans only offer one or two variations of the standard vanilla soft serve and its usually about HK$12 (US$1.50). If you’re on the hunt, Mr Whippee often appears by Central Pier 9 near the Ferris Wheel on weekends in the late afternoon. Otherwise, you’ve just got to hope for some good luck.

If you’re looking for a unique dessert-inspired Hong Kong souvenir, my favorite Hong Kong gallery based in PMQ, Glue Associates, sells a unique Mobile Softee print.

7. Tong yuen

Tong yuen is a hot dessert consisting of extremely sweet ginger soup filled with small white glutinous rice dumplings, which themselves are filled with black sesame (or sometimes peanuts or red beans). This sweet soup is perhaps the most acquired taste among Hong Kong desserts. I find most travelers either love it, or are content with a taste.

I find Tong Yuen a little heavy and will usually opt for this as a mid-afternoon snack, saving the fruitier, lighter desserts for after dinner. Unlike many Hong Kong desserts which emerged during the British colonial era, tong yuen has a long history as a traditional dessert for major Chinese festivals like Mid-Autumn and Chinese New Year.

Best place for tong yuen in Hong Kong

Most Hong Kong dessert bars (the ones selling the fruity, icy desserts) will also offer tong yuen.

However, if you are looking for some of the best tong yuen in Hong Kong, head to Fook Yuen in North Point or Chung Kee Dessert in Jordan.

A note on all things Matcha

Matcha desserts may well hail from Japan, but in my (extremely controversial) opinion: Hongkongers do matcha best.

With that in mind, here are my favorite matcha desserts in Hong Kong and where to find them:

  • Matcha ice cream: Via Tokyo (Causeway Bay). This Japanese-style, high-end ice cream store is really the holy grail for a global ice cream connoisseur like me. The matcha is extremely high quality and topped with homemade glutinous rice balls and mochi. In case it isn’t clear, Via Tokyo is a must-do for matcha lovers.
  • Matcha lava cake: Matsuya Dessert (Sai Ying Pun). I’ve eaten many matcha cakes in my life and very few come close to Matsuya dessert.
  • Matcha tart: Vission Bakery (Soho). As you ascend the Mid-Levels escalator, you’ll see the line wrapped around the corner. This matcha tart may be the latest Hong Kong fad, but something tells me its here to stay.

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