Home to the most skyscrapers in the world and the most Rolls-Royces per capita, Hong Kong has been termed the “Pearl of the Orient”, a nickname capturing the night view on Victoria Harbour. By some, it has also been called “Asia’s World City”, and to me, it was most fitting as the “World’s Fair of Food”. After studying abroad in Hong Kong for a year, I fell in love with the quirky cafes, scrumptious dessert shops, and fancy restaurants. After all, it is hard to forget evenings at the highest bar in the world and lunches at the cheapest Michelin restaurant thus far. It is even harder to forget the taste that Hong Kong offers: the taste of the world.
From Balkan to Sicilian to Korean restaurants, Hong Kong is truly an eating paradise. I have gotten lost countless times in the maze of roadside stalls and hidden alley cafes only to find myself on a bustling of world-class restaurants.
As a dessert fanatic, I was definitely carried away by Hong Kong’s options. Waffles, chocolate tarts, puddings – whatever dessert I was craving, they had it. I’m proud to say that the majority of my “touristy” adventures were metro rides to cafes and dessert shops, and there were several traditional Hong Kong desserts that were too unbelievably yummy not to share!
A sweet addition to my food adventures in Hong Kong is tofu pudding, called “dau fu fa”. As a part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage, tofu pudding is a simple dessert in contrast with Hong Kong’s fusion dessert trend. Tofu pudding is made by soaking and blending soybeans, and it is often paired with ginger soup or clear syrup. The soft tofu has a smooth and silky texture, and it can be served hot or cold, making it a delicacy for any weather.
Another mouthwatering dessert is the bubble waffle – if I were a food inventor, it would be the last creation I would have thought of and the first I would try. No matter how many times I have this, it always surprises me how ingenious the idea was – to make detachable, ball-shaped waffles that go well with any topping. Also known as egg puffs or egg waffles, bubble waffles are a popular street food. Waffle-like batter, sometimes with ingredients like chocolate or sesame added, is heated in a special mold, and this turns into a heavenly goodness of soft egg-shaped bubbles.
Hong Kong is also where I found the most delicious egg tarts, aka edible pieces of sunshine. The simplified definition of an egg tart as a pastry crust with egg custard filling doesn’t do the dessert the slightest bit of justice. With a flaky puff pastry exterior that crumbles in your mouth, the egg tart houses a subtle sweetness in its creamy custard middle. With both Hong Kong style egg tarts and Portuguese egg tarts, I faced a double threat to my waistline in Hong Kong as I devoured these delectable pastries. The two versions differ in their origins, with the Portuguese egg tart brought over by Portuguese colonizers in Macau and the Hong Kong style egg tart influenced by British custard tarts.
These three desserts were a recurrent yet tiny part of my numerous food escapades in Hong Kong, and they are an even smaller representation of the food choices in Hong Kong. Along with its traditional desserts and dishes, Hong Kong features authentic cuisines from all over the world, plus modern fusions.
When people go abroad, some say that they miss the taste of their hometown, whether that be spicy Sichuan dishes or homely Italian pastas. Others miss a particular restaurant or a food chain. But after venturing to Hong Kong, I do not only crave traditional Hong Kong food. Rather, I miss the limitless variety of foods from other countries. I miss the Chinese breakfasts, the Thai lunches, the American brunches, the Japanese snacks, the Italian dinners, and the Hong Kong desserts. I miss the tastes of the entire world all in one place.