I don’t know an awful lot about food in Hong Kong, but there are two things that always make me ‘eggy’ when in the city state: waffles and tarts.
Although typical Chinese foods like steamed buns, youtiao, and dou jiang are prevalent across HK, the island is perhaps known for two other street foods, which have since became so popular that even upmarket bakery chains sell them to Hong Kongers everyday. These two foods are egg waffles and egg tarts. Personally, I cannot really separate them in terms of taste (yes I know they are both made with egg), but I do wonder what seems the more popular street snack among Hong Kongers.
The origins of Egg Waffles (鷄蛋仔) are unknown, despite being ingrained in the memories of Hong Kongers young and old. One story says the enterprising post-war generation created the egg-shaped mould to make up for an eggless batter, as eggs used to be a luxury in this part of the world. Another tale points to street hawkers who bought damaged eggs on the cheap to work them into a batter, resulting in the classic golden colour of the snack.
Egg waffles are made from a sweet, eggy batter that is cooked on a hot griddle, a special frying pan with small round cells. The griddle is set on hot coals in the fire, or more commonly on an electrical heater. The batter is poured over the special frying pan and heated, and this is how the small ovals of egg waffles are formed.
If you want to make your own at home, then follow this step by step guide to making the perfect egg waffles!
My search in Hong Kong for the authentic variety of egg waffles took me from the regular tourist hotspots in Kowloon (there’s a nice bakery on Nathan Road, but I forget what it was called) all the way up to North Point where a friend of mine was staying. But wherever I went I just couldn’t resist tucking in to some delicious egg waffles! They have such a fluffy texture on the outside, and the eggy taste within just brings a smile to my face with every bite!
Egg Tarts (蛋挞) actually originated in Portugal and were imported to Macau during colonial times. The Portuguese version is called Pasteis de Nata and it is a kind of custard tart, which consists of an outer pastry crust filled with egg custard, then baked. Hong Kong’s tarts were more influenced by British versions rather than the original Pasteis de Nata.
Today, egg tarts come in many flavourful variations on the streets of Hong Kong, including milk, honey, chocolate, and green tea tarts! Egg tarts have two main types of crust, shortcrust pastry or puff pastry, that are traditionally made with lard rather than butter. They are both filled with a rich custard that is much eggier and less creamy than similar tarts from Europe.
Feeling peckish? Then here is a guide to make your own HK-style egg tarts!
I became aware of the high standard of perfection of Egg Tarts in Hong Kong at the famous Tai Cheong Bakery, which are said to make the best standard of tarts in the world. I couldn’t possibly argue with that assertion – and I did eat more than one! They are served piping hot at all times, and the contrast between the colder pastry and hot egg custard in the middle is mind-blowing!
Unlike egg waffles, the egg tarts are slightly more upmarket, and while they can be found in the markets of Hong Kong and are sold regularly as street food, there seems to be a higher standard of taste and hygiene than when compared to the waffles. It’s hard to choose between them but – without meaning to sound risqué – I would spend my HK$ on a tart!