Whilst everyone else compiles their lists of the best new restaurants in Hong Kong for 2015, I thought I might as well cut straight to the sweet stuff – literally! – with my favourite desserts of 2015 instead.
As you all know, my heart belongs to sugar – and done well, dessert should always be the highlight of my meal. This list was really easy to put together as these five dishes sung gloriously in my memory – and as you’ll very quickly discover, the quickest route to my affections is via chocolate, salted caramel and nuts… or even better, a combination of any of the above:
Chocolate palette, Neighborhood
This intimate little bistro by David Lai (of On Lot 10 and Fish School fame) is probably one of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong in general… but there is nothing probable about my love of this chocolate palette. This IS my favourite dessert in Hong Kong full stop.
None of us knew what to expect when we saw the words “chocolate palette” on the menu – and to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what a chocolate palette actually is, other than wonderful world-altering stuff. At Neighborhood, it’s a warm, thick, rich, achingly smooth chocolate ganache-mousse set on top of a perfectly crisp, light, buttery, ever so slightly salty biscuit base. I can only assume Hermione Granger was involved in its making because there is no way a dessert can be simultaneously so rich and yet so light through purely Muggle means.
Utterly divine, heaven-sent, ocean-parting; this is what plays in my head every time I take a bite (2 minutes and 11 seconds exactly, FYI):
And nothing expresses my love more purely than a 90s power ballad.
Neighborhood, 61-63 Hollywood Road (entrance on Man Hing Lane), Central, Hong Kong, +852 2617 0891; www.facebook.com/neighborhoodhk
Churros with salted caramel sauce, Limewood
Lots of restaurants do churros in Hong Kong – and almost all of them do it badly. So thank God for Maximal Concepts (Mott 32, Brickhouse, Blue Butcher… do you even need me to tell you anymore?) for reminding me that when done right, churros are exactly the kind of deep-fried filth that should set your dessert loins on fire.
Golden crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside – and every inch pure pleasure. But what really takes this dessert from fab to FAB-U-LOUS is a seriously sexy salted caramel sauce; perfectly straddled between sweet, salty and shagedelic, this needs to be served in pitchers… which all need to be delivered straight to my house.
PS. Don’t forget to read my full Limewood review!
Limewood, Shop 103-104, The Pulse, 28 Beach Road, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2866 8668; www.limewood.hk
Le croustillant noisette, Épure
This is the probably the most technical of the desserts on my list, but it wears its sophistication ever so lightly. Each exquisite layer of this dacquoise – hazelnut cream, a wafer-thin sheet of milk chocolate, praline, meringue – is executed with the precision, delicacy and downright beauty of a prima ballerina.
I was invited to Épure with my friend Janice, and we had deliberately ordered different dishes throughout our meal so we could try a bit of each other’s courses. However, as soon as I took my first bite of dessert, I turned to her and said, “Sorry, not sharing.” Yep that’s right, I put cake before friends and I’m not ashamed! It’s a dessert where every single texture and flavour has been balanced so impeccably that you don’t even notice… you just lick the plate clean and ask for seconds.
Épure, Shop 403, Level 4, Ocean Centre, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 3185 8338; www.epure.hk
Praline and hazelnut chocolate mousse, Caprice Bar
Imagine a jar of Nutella – I know Nutella already comes in a jar but bear with me – except approximately one thousand times better. Because that’s basically what Caprice Bar’s praline and hazelnut chocolate mousse is.
The cosy, more casual sister of the Four Seasons’ fancy French restaurant Caprice, Caprice Bar is probably one of Hong Kong’s best hidden gems – except now they’ve launched a lunch menu, featuring ridiculously good desserts like this one by pastry chef extraordinaire Nicolas Lambert, and I can’t imagine it retaining its somewhat undiscovered quality for much longer. It does exactly what it says on the tin (jar?), but takes it to next level degrees of delight – rich, creamy, velvety smooth and high on my all-time favourite dessert combination of chocolate and nuts. Deceptively simple, outrageously delicious.
Caprice Bar, 6/F, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3196 8888 (no reservations); www.fourseasons.com/hongkong/dining/lounges/caprice_bar
Dark chocolate and salted caramel tart, Pomegranate Kitchen
Let this be known as the chocolate tart that forever ruined all other chocolate tarts for me – because this gooey gorgeous queen reigns supreme over pretty much anything else I’ve eaten this year. The only downside is that since Pomegranate is a private kitchen, you’ll need to round up a sizeable group to book its space… meaning this tart isn’t nearly as readily available as my cravings demand!
This chocolate and salted caramel tart has a distinctly homemade, humble quality to it – it’s the sort of thing you can imagine being created by a much-loved granny on British Bake-Off – but that simply adds to its charm. The base is buttery, crumbly chocolate cookie heaven; the ganache filling so smooth, glossy and sinfully rich that it channels more sex appeal than Jessica Rabbit, especially once you factor in a further layer of divinely thick caramel. It’s a modern-day dessert siren, driving chocolate-loving folk like me to delicious madness, sitting winking on the rocks of temptation.
In aural terms, it’s the sax solo in Lady Gaga’s Edge Of Glory – unadulterated pure joy that’s over far too soon (3:00 in the video… oh to hell with it, just listen to the whole thing and dance naked in your room like Abbi in Broad City, I know you want to).
Good God, that was exhilarating wasn’t it? Sax solos really need to be a thing more often… and so do desserts as utterly, absolutely awesome as this one.
Pomegranate Kitchen, Unit 4B, 44 Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen, Hong Kong, +852 2580 0663; www.pomegranate.com.hk