2016 wasn’t my favourite year by a long stretch, but there were still a couple of sweet spots in it – five to be exact! So here are my five favourite desserts in Hong Kong last year… and here’s hoping 2017 will be even sweeter.
Chocolate H20, Cobo House
When Cobo House first opened in Hong Kong, people actually started sending me social media photos of this dish, saying “this has your name written all over it”. Sure enough, its main components are chocolate and salted caramel – and short of actually calling it “Order Me, Rach”, there was no question that I’d be falling for Chocolate H20 hook, line and sinker.
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How much is too much to pay for an éclair?
I’ll admit that’s not a question I’ve ever found myself wondering too much before, but it’s something you’re going to have to give serious consideration to when you visit L’Éclair De Génie – a Parisian dessert import à la Ladurée, which has recently opened two pop-up stores in Hong Kong.
Éclairs are the latest craze to hit Hong Kong… who knows why exactly, but it’s definitely got my sweet tooth a lot more excited than the recent burger/uni/Korean everything fads.
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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.
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Lots of countries get beachside dining down pat – freshly cooked fish and chips in the UK, summery tropical seafood in Thailand, mouth-watering barbequed meat in the States – but until recently, Hong Kong was not one of them. Beach eats here often consisted of sad little shacks selling instant noodles and curry fish balls, which don’t get me wrong, I do love… but which just don’t feel quite right when the sun is shining and the waves are calling your name.
However, as businesses have woken up to quite how lucrative sun-dazed hungry diners might be, the quality of beachside restaurants in Hong Kong has crept up – and Limewood in Repulse Bay’s new The Pulse complex is definitely at the crest of the tidal wave.
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UPDATE: Amazing chocolate layer cake and candy-blended milkshakes are no longer available at Burger Circus 😦
Hong Kong is currently having a bit of a burger moment. And by “bit of”, I mean crazy stalker-type obsession that really has gone too far. Seriously, at this rate, I’m expecting to see Café De Coral dishing up mini sliders sometime soon.
One of the results of this burger bandwagon is Burger Circus in Central, a cute American-style diner from Black Sheep Restaurants, the folk behind Chom Chom, Carbone and Ho Lee Fook (which just so happen to be three of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong). Whilst I can take or leave burgers in general, the fact that Burger Circus serves milkshakes, cakes and milkshakes MADE with cake was more than enough to convince my sweet tooth that hey, this burger craze might not be such a bad thing after all.
Yup, we’re talking next-level milkshake making here. There are “regular” flavours, like salted caramel, strawberry and malt. There are “candy shakes”, made with the likes of M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Maltesers. And then there are Burger Circus’ crowning glory, milkshakes blended with their in-house cakes and pies; there’s chocolate layer cake, apple pie, cheesecake… I’m writing this at 3am and I’m drooling all over again just thinking about it.
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*UPDATE: The Continental has completely changed all its menus including afternoon tea, which is now substantially smaller and nowhere near as good. Sad times.*
There’s no denying that you’re never short of a dozen or twenty hot new restaurant openings in Hong Kong. However, hot new restaurants that you want to come back to time and time again? That’s a bit trickier.
For that reason, one of my favourite recent openings – and recent in Rach speak means sometime in the past year – is The Continental at Pacific Place in Admiralty. It serves unfussy, unpretentious, British-European cuisine made with classic flavours, quality ingredients and uniformly excellent cooking. The whole place has the seamless confidence of an old-school hotel restaurant… except without actually being in a hotel (it is under Swire though, who own The Upper House and EAST hotels – then again, they’re also responsible for bottling Coca-Cola in Hong Kong so it takes all sorts). It’s consistent, reliable and most importantly, very very good.
As such, I’ve been there for lunch, brunch, dinner and drinks – but me being me, it’s The Continental’s afternoon tea I want to talk to you about first. As far as afternoon teas go, you couldn’t wish for a nicer space, with an elegant contemporary design courtesy of David Collins Studio (who did The Wolsey in London) that effortlessly marries intimate comfort with modern sophistication.
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