In addition to cheap dim sum, cha chaan tengs, and awesome Malaysian food, one of the things I miss most about Hong Kong is the plethora of Cantonese dessert shops. While I love ice cream, cakes, and pies, I have found that American desserts tend to be heavy on the sugar and carbs, which can be unpleasant in this summer heat. In contrast, Cantonese desserts are light and refreshing–the perfect ending to a hot summer night.
So where can you find the best mango sago and sweet tofu (豆腐花; doufu hua) in Hong Kong? Here are my top 3 favorites.
Honeymoon Dessert (滿記甜品)
With several locations around HK, Honeymoon Dessert might win (only by a slight margin) as my favorite dessert shop in the city. While the menu features many traditional Canto desserts, it also offers modern twists on the classics. My friends and I decided to go wild on our last visit, and ordered watermelon doufu hua, tang yuan in almond milk, and coconut mango sago with pomelo (pictured at the top, from right to left).
The watermelon tofu was a perfect summer dessert–cool silken tofu topped with a refreshing, not-too-sweet watermelon puree. Tang yuan in almond milk, in contrast, was served warm. A classic Chinese dessert, tang yuan are sweet glutinous rice dumplings filed with either black sesame or peanuts and sugar. We chose the peanut variety. Each bite was pleasantly chewy, with the sweetness tempered by a sip of almond milk.
The best dessert at Honeymoon, one that I ordered everytime, was the coconut mango sago with pomelo. For those unfamiliar with this dessert, sago is a type of starch very similar to tapioca–almost like mini boba, but less chewy. Served in a cool mango and coconut concoction with slices of tart pomelo interspersed, this dessert was addictively fruity and fresh.
With all of the desserts at Honeymoon priced below $40, it’s no wonder there is always a line out the door. For modern takes on classic Canto sweets, head to a Honeymoon Dessert near you.
Shop 303, Podium 3, World Trade Centre
280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
Hui Lau Shan (許留山)
Arguably the most famous dessert chain in Hong Kong, Hui Lau Shan is best known for its plethora of mango offerings. From drinks to soups to puddings, Hui Lau Shan is a mango lover’s dream. More grab-and-go friendly than Honeymoon, Hui Lau Shan has take-away service for its drinks, which range from $28-34 HKD. For those eating in, my favorite was the mango puree and coconut milk over purple sticky rice (pictured above). And for those less adventurous eaters, beware of another of HLS’ most popular desserts: snow frog spawn and birds nest, served in a coconut (snow frog spawn and bird’s nest are supposed to be good for the skin, making it popular with the ladies).
Hui Lau Shan has several locations throughout Hong Kong, but my favorite was in Mong Kok:
58-60 Sai Yeung Choi Street, Mong Kok
Wu Dai Tong Tang (五代同糖)
Wu Dai Tong Tang definitely wins for presentation. Its desserts are whimsical and light-hearted, with some offering a Cantonese take on Western classics. Huge sugar-dusted souffles are popular here, along with Asian-style panna cotta and molten chocolate cakes.
My friend and I shared a taro ice with grass jelly and red bean and an egg custard. In addition to incredibly herbaceous grass jelly, the taro ice was served with corn flakes on the side. I’m still a bit confused by this and am not sure all of the flavors worked together in the dish, but the corn flakes did add an unexpected crunch. I much preferred the egg custard, served in the most adorable and apropos dish ever. If you’re looking for more out-of-the-ordinary HK style desserts, Wu Dai Tong Tang is the place to go.
Shop G11, Elizabeth House
250-254 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay
(Note: The building it is housed in is on Gloucester Road, but Wu Dai Tong Tang is actually in the back entrance.)