Having previously examined an initial batch of 23 of the best Asian desserts, I thought it was time to delve a little deeper into Asian cuisine to find a second batch of delicious after-dinner treats! I have only included MUST-TRY desserts from South East Asia and the Far East, as Indian desserts are already included in another article.
Aiyu Jelly, Taiwan
Aiyu Jelly is a jelly made from the gel from the seeds of a variety of fig found in Taiwan. It is commonly served with slices of lime or cranberries and plenty of ice.
Baesuk, South Korea (recipe)
Baesuk is a Korean traditional fruit punch made with “bae” (Korean pear), black peppercorns, ginger, honey or sugar, and water, and it was once part of Korean Royal Court Cuisine. The pears are poached by being simmered with ginger over low heat. It can be drank hot or cold.
Bakpia Pathok, Indonesia (recipe)
These are small Chinese-influenced sweet rolls that are usually stuffed with mung beans, but can also be filled with chocolate, durian, or even cheese). They are a speciality of Yogyakarta in Java, where they are purchased by visitors as gifts for friends and family. For a dessert to be eaten on the move, Bakpia Pathok cannot be beaten!
Bánh kẹp lá Dứa, Vietnam (recipe)
Bánh kẹp lá Dứa are pandan waffles and include coconut milk in the batter. They also characterised by their spring green colour and browning when cooked. In Vietnam, pandan waffles are a popular street food, especially with tourists, but many locals prefer to eat them as a homemade dessert.
Chapssaltteok, South Korea (recipe)
Similar to Japanese mochi, Chapssaltteok is a Korean dessert that consists of rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste. The cakes themselves are made from either pounded rice, pounded glutinous rice, or glutinous rice left whole, without pounding.
Chè trôi nước, Vietnam
This is a Vietnamese dessert consisting of balls made from mung bean paste wrapped in a shell made of glutinous rice flour. The balls are served in a thick brown liquid made of water, sugar, and grated ginger root. It is generally warmed before eating and garnished with sesame seeds. Chè trôi nước is similar to the Chinese dessert Tangyuan.
Hokkaido Milk, Japan
Now an international export, the creamy goodness of Hokkaido’s dairy farms can be found in shops everywhere. Cows in Hokkaido are treated like celebrities and are only milked at certain times of their lives, which is said to give a higher quality of milk. The thickness of Hokkaido Milk – as well as its delectable taste – now makes this milk from Japan one of the most popular desserts in Asia!
Htamane, Myanmar (recipe)
One of the country’s most famous sweet treats is Htamane, which is a savoury snack, containing sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, and fried coconut shavings, and is a seasonal festive delicacy in Myanmar.
Khanom Chan, Thailand (recipe)
Khanom Chan is one of the ancient Thai desserts, which Thai ancestors usually made for auspicious ceremonies. In Thai, the word “Khanom” means dessert, and “Chan” means layer. It is usually baked in the complete 9 layer form. The number nine itself has connotations of prosperity in Thai culture. Khanom Chan is fragrant and slightly oily from the addition of coconut milk.
Kolak, Indonesia (recipe)
While Indonesia is not known for its desserts, there is Kolak, which is based on palm sugar or coconut sugar, coconut milk, and pandanus leaf. Other ingredients may include pumpkins, sweet potatoes, jackfruit, plantains, cassava, and tapioca pearls. Kolak is usually served at room temperature.
One of the more unique desserts in this list, Kralan is a Cambodian sweet delicacy made of sticky rice with red beans, sugar, grated coconut, and coconut milk, that is all roasted in specially-prepared bamboo sections of different shapes and sizes.
Often served with tea, Monaka is a Japanese sweet made of azuki bean jam filling sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from mochi. The jam can be made from azuki beans, sesame seed, or chestnuts. Modern monaka can also be eaten filled with ice cream
Mujigaetteok literally means “rainbow rice cake” and it certainly lives up to its name! It is made by steaming a mixture of coloured rice flour and sugar in an earthen steamer. It is primarily used for special occasions such as birthday parties, weddings, or anniversaries.
Patbingsu is a Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings such as chopped fruit, condensed milk, fruit syrup, and Azuki beans. The snack is highly popular in Korea and is known as the country’s ‘national dessert’.
Pineapple Tarts are part of Taiwanese culture. They contain butter, flour, egg, sugar, and of course pineapple jam. Its crumbly, fragrant crust and the chewy, sweet fruit filling come together as a companion for tea and other beverages such as boba.
Rượu Nếp, Vietnam
Also known as the “Black Rice Pudding, Rượu nếp is a common dessert from northern Vietnam. It is made from glutinous rice that has been fermented with the aid of yeast and steamed in a banana leaf. Rượu nếp is mildly alcoholic, and depending on its consistency, it may be considered either a pudding or a wine. Thicker versions are eaten with a spoon, while more liquid varieties may be drunk from a glass.
Sanwin Makin, Myanmar (recipe)
Who would have thought that a seemingly simple semolina cake from Myanmar could be so popular? Well, Sanwin Makin is a simple Burmese dessert that is enjoyed all over the country – and its copious amounts of coconut cream and sugar certainly make it a sticky treat!
Sarawak Layer Cake, Malaysia (recipe)
The Sarawak layer cake is traditionally baked for religious or cultural celebrations such as Eid ul-Fitr, Christmas, or Deepavali. Sarawakian modern layered cakes can be divided into two categories: cakes with ordinary layers and cakes with patterns, motifs, or shapes. All must have at least two colours. The cake can be baked in an oven or microwave.
Sata Andagi, Japan (recipe)
Sata Andagi are sweet deep fried doughnuts that originated on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Traditional andagi is made by mixing flour, sugar, and eggs into a ball, then deep fried. Andagi smell as good as they taste!
Songpyeon, South Korea (recipe)
Songpyeon are half-moon-shaped rice cakes that contain different kinds of sweet or semi-sweet fillings, such as sesame seeds and honey, sweet red bean paste, and chestnut paste steamed over a layer of pine needles, which gives them the fragrant smell of fresh pine trees
Taro Ball, Taiwan (recipe)
One of my favourite desserts in this list, Taro Ball is a traditional Taiwanese dessert made of taro. It can be found in almost every part in Taiwan, among which Jiufen’s taro ball is said to be the most famous. The taro balls can be made by mixing mashed taro with water and sweet potato flour, making the taro balls softer. The colour of mashed taro makes the dessert appear crystal purple or grey. The dessert can be topped be syrup and eaten either hot or cold.
Ube Halaya, the Philippines (recipe)
Ube Halaya is a famous Filipino dessert made from boiled and mashed purple yam. It is typically served cold with a healthy dose of grated coconut and condensed milk.
Xue Hua Bing, Taiwan
Also known as Taiwanese Snow Ice, Xue Hua Bing is the perfect way to cool down on a steamy summer’s day in Taiwan, as it can be sold as either a street snack or as a more fulsome desert in a café or restaurant!
It could be argued that Asia has the best array of desserts of any continent on the planet – and it seems most countries can contribute with a dessert (or two) of their own to this list! It makes eating when travelling so much more enjoyable to know that when you’ve finished your main meal, you still have the very best part still to come…
Page last updated 19 October, 2016. Please report any dead links.