These Hong Kong desserts can cheer you up while socially distancing

Chad de Guzman
3 min readJul 16, 2020
The iconic pasteis de nata from Lord Stow’s Bakery in Coloane. The Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong sells these Macanese egg tarts.

Social distancing due to the coronavirus has driven a lot of Hong Kongers up the wall.

Yet the perfect answer to when you’re stressed is just to read the word “stressed” backward: desserts.

Hong Kong is home to a lot of after-meal delights that would satisfy your sweet cravings — some of which you can whip up under your own roof. But most people can’t be bothered to prepare Instagram-worthy dalgona coffees or to bake tea-time cakes.

So here are some desserts that comply with social distancing: they can be easily found in local stores nearby or delivered straight to your doorstep.

Hong Kong egg tart (dan tat, 蛋撻)

Everyone who passes by a bakeshop selling this classic knows the smell of warm pastry and caramelized custard. The egg tart — found in Hong Kong, Macau, and other parts of southern China — is the East’s response to British custard tarts. Reports said the British first introduced this in the 1920s and has been part of Hong Kong cuisine ever since.

There are three distinct varieties to this custardy favorite. Most local bakeries and cha chaan tengs will have the shortcrust egg tart, which has a pie-like base with little to no caramelization. The puff-pastry egg tart differs in the custard shell, which is flakier and a bit nuttier.

But the tart that takes the cake is none other than the Portuguese egg tart, hailing originally from Macau after a British guy attempted to recreate Portugal’s pasteis de nata. This guy’s wife sold the recipe to KFC in Hong Kong, making the famed pastry ready to grab as a quick snack in the city’s branches.

Bubble tea

Food isn’t the only thing available on delivery apps.

Tea — not your run-off-the-mill Chinese fast food kind, but the cold summer drink of Taiwanese origins — can come knocking at your door when you buy it online. Save yourself from the hassle of lining up and waiting for your order, and just enjoy feeling refreshed with a sip of bubble tea paired with chewy tapioca pearls.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try some cheese milk tea from HeyTea. Your drink is capped off with froth made from an interesting yet tasty combination of condensed milk and cream cheese. You can also try the streaky brown-sugar drink from Tiger Sugar — their sweet bubble milk tea drink will stay with you if you have it after a nice, hearty meal.

The mango pomelo sago dessert. (Screengrab from theMEATMEN channel on YouTube).

Mango Pomelo Sago (楊枝甘露)

A summer dessert list is not complete without mangoes.

Hong Kong may be renowned for its mom-and-pop shops serving the classic red bean soup dessert, but those can be too hot for a humid day. Luckily, those same shops also serve this cold refreshing summer concoction, which is made with mango, pomelo, sago, milk, coconut milk, and evaporated milk.

The soup-like pudding was reportedly invented in 1984 at Lei Garden’s Singapore branch before finding its way to Hong Kong shores. You can check out Hui Lau Shan’s many branches in Kowloon to have your fill of mango pomelo sago.

But we’re sure many of your local shops will also serve this refreshing summer treat.

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Chad de Guzman

I’m a multimedia journalist leading conversations on Southeast Asia, culture, and identity formation. I’m a nerd easily excited by new storytelling methods.