Brown Sugar Steamed Cake from Tim Ho Wan
This might be my favorite cake ever. And, I don't want to brag or anything, but this [sweeps both hands down body] has digested a lot of cake. Tim Ho Wan's cake pairs a perfectly moist, fluffy, and sproingy (a step above springy) texture with a deeply warm, toffee-like, caramelized sugar flavor that isn't too sweet, served fresh out of a steamer basket. Basically, it combines one of my favorite textures with one of my favorite flavors.
I have a fantasy that involves a pillow-size version of this cake: I rest on the cake pillow and sleepily eat through the cake over the course of ten hours. (I don't dream big.) ...Actually, now that I've typed that out, I realize that'd possibly end with me throwing up a brown, chunky slurry. But I bet the first hour would be fantastic.
Tim Ho Wan: Multiple locations listed at OpenRice
Steamed Milk Pudding from Yee Shun Milk Company
This was the first time I'd ever had steamed milk pudding, and it may as well have been my last. I've tried a few steamed milk puddings this year, none of which have come close to Yee Shun's silky smooth, delicate pudding that barely tasted of the egg white holding it together, just sweet milky goodness.
Yee Shun Milk Company: Multiple locations, view all on OpenRice
Egg Waffle from Lee Keung Kee North Point Waffles
I was a bit skeptical when I joined the sizable line for this egg waffle stand. Could their egg waffles be that good? Oh, yes. LKK's egg waffle is the best I've ever had: feather-light and semi-hollow, with a thin, brittle crust on the outside that gives way to a spot of soft-n-chewy in the center, eggy and mildly sweet throughout.
Lee Keung Kee North Point Waffles: Multiple locations listed at Open Rice
Egg Custard Tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery
The over 50-year-old Tai Cheong Bakery is famous for their egg custard tarts, fame that was propelled by one of their biggest fans, former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten. So if you ever hear someone refer to Fat Patten Egg Tarts, you know they're talking about Tai Cheong.
I don't know much about Patten, but I fully support his taste in egg custard tarts. Tai Cheong makes both flaky and shortbread crusted versions, and both of them are among the best egg custard tarts I've ever eaten. They're more famous for their shortbread version (pictured here), which features a crumbly, tender, buttery cookie-like crust filled with smooth, creamy egg custard. Considering how popular the bakery is, there's a good chance you'd end up with a hot, fresh tart like I did. I prefer the flaky version, but you should try both and decide for yourself.
Flaky Egg Custard Tart from Tai Cheong Bakery
Danish Petit Pois Tim Dou from Po's Atelier
This pastry was the only thing I got from Po's Atelier, a swanky-looking French-Japanese bakery. As soon as I took one bite I wish I had bought more. It's delicately crisp on the outside, plenty flaky, and deceptively light for tasting like a butter explosion. The sweet mung bean filling is a nice change from typical flaky, French-style pastries.
Black Sesame Paste from Tsui Yuen
This hot, thick soup (think somewhere between soup and paste) of liquified, mildly sweetened black sesame seeds is a common kind of tong sui. If you love black sesame as much as I do (that is, a lot), you need to try this.
Steamed Bean Curd Sheets With Pearl Barley and Ginko Nuts from Tsui Yuen
This mildly sweet dessert soup tasted more like a breakfast dish to me than a typical dessert, but that's not a bad thing. Thin, delicate tofu skin shreds get beefed up with chewy pearl barley and chestnut-like ginko nuts for a light and pleasant dessert.
Grass Jelly With Mango and Sago from Sweetheart Dessert
How did l live for so long without ever having tried a chilled mango soup dessert? Grass jelly with mango and sago is a popular dessert in Hong Kong, and it's pretty much what it sounds like: sweet, fresh mango purée with fat chunks of super soft grass jelly and tiny, mildly chewy sago pearls.
Portuguese Egg Tart and Pineapple Bun from Sai Kung Cafe and Bakery
When my friends and I first came across this bakery, we were deterred by the long line and decided to return later. When later came, we realized it just had a perpetually long line. And thus we waited. The steady stream of customers meant a steady stream of burning hot, fresh-from-the-oven Portuguese egg tarts and sweet crust-topped pineapple buns, aka, two of my favorite pastries ever. If you can get a fresh batch, it's worth waiting for.
Pineapple Bun from Sai Kung Cafe and Bakery
Crispy Bun With Condensed Milk from Tsui Wah
Tsui Wah is a popular cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style diner) chain with about 40 locations throughout Hong Kong, China, and Macau. Many of the locations are open 24 hours, and, as one of my friends told me, is a popular choice for drunk, disheveled club-goers in the wee hours of the morning. (I regret I didn't get to witness the post-clubbing crowd.) For something that sounds like the Denny's of Hong Kong, it may not scream "must-visit," but damn, I'd go back for their condensed milk- and butter-smeared toasted buns. They're the best version of condensed milk and butter-topped bread I've ever had. The buns were well toasted and the heat of the toasting helped the layer of butter and condensed milk soak in.
(I'll admit that I ate this after midnight in a semi-awake stupor, so my judgment may not be that reliable. But at the time, these buns tasted amazing.)
Tsui Wah: Multiple locations listed at tsuiwah.com
Douhua from the Well-Wishing Festival
I love douhua (soft tofu) for dessert...well, the bites that are coated in syrup, syrup that tends to run out before the tofu does. How to prevent such tragedy: provide a pitcher of ginger syrup and a tub of brown sugar for DIY re-sweetening at will, as I experienced at the Hong Kong Well-Wishing Festival.
Pancake With Spread from a Street Vendor in Mong Kok
This pancake wasn't great, but I loved the idea of it. Take a thick, spongy pancake, smear on butter and peanut sauce, sprinkle with sugar, and fold in half. Kind of like a filled crepe on steroids.