Desserts & drinks

Desserts & drinks

By
Jeremy Pang
Contains
10 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
978-1-84949-992-7
Photographer
Kris Kirkham

Dessert houses and bakeries

Travelling through Hong Kong you are likely to bypass the many dessert houses and bakeries that the city has to offer, often without even noticing them. I find it fascinating that such a huge city has so many establishments whose menus are 90 per cent sweet, yet still has such a notoriously bad reputation for desserts.

The Chinese are certainly not famous for their desserts, and I would happily agree that the French can take the reins when it comes to the fine art of pâtisserie. However, over the years and through both research and my own leanings towards my Chinese heritage, I’ve started to really understand where this lack of fame may come from. To a Chinese person, a dessert is not just something that we eat at the end of the meal. A dessert is something that can be eaten at any time of the day, much like savoury dishes in the Chinese tradition. Food is simply there for enjoyment and cannot (or should not) be held to such strict regulations and conformities as to what time of day it is to be eaten!

The thing about eating roadside in a busy city like Hong Kong is that with the constant heaving crowds of people, it often becomes difficult to see café fronts and signs, making it that much harder to distinguish your man-and-a-pan dai pai dongs and specialist restaurants from one another – they all look the same when you can see only one small corner of them!

In response to this needle-in-a-haystack situation, some of the biggest chains of dessert houses have created inviting, open-fronted, visibly and vibrantly colourful façades to their cafés, serving fresh mango and pomelo juice, squeezed en masse. And with the often hot and humid weather of Hong Kong, these sprawling ice-cold fruit juice, sago or tapioca and milk tea cafés are a welcome pit-stop.

A true Hong Kong eating tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of the city’s bakeries, specializing in gloriously fluffy, sweet baked buns and cakes. This type of dessert is so popular and delicious, in fact, that my grandfather made his living as a baker, running one of the oldest standing bakeries in the London and Manchester Chinatowns. Perhaps I am biased because of this lineage, but one of my guiltiest pleasures and comforts, which I turn to when missing Hong Kong, is a steamed cake or crumbly ‘pineapple’ bun. There is just no substitute.

Recipes in this Chapter

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