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THE FONG REPORT: Calling All Dessert Fanatics – Dig Into Hong Kong’s Sweet Spot!!

Does this sound familiar? You’re wrapping up a great meal at some fantastic restaurant – stuffed, maybe even overstuffed. Feeling the food coma creep in, you sense your brain struggling to maintain consciousness as your body desperately attempts digestion. Seeing you slump slightly in your chair, the waiter walks by with the dessert menu but passes you by, assuming you’re down for the count. IMG_4807

“Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example…Best when freshly baked and still  a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach.”

Mere moments before he’s out of reach, you eagerly snatch the menu from his confused fingers. There’s ALWAYS room (and energy) for dessert! As my friends (and dentist) can attest, my sweet tooth is relentless.

“Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.”

You know how cows have 4-chamber stomachs? I must have bovine tendencies, since no matter how full I may be, I appear to magically grow a separate stomach chamber just in time for dessert! Are you with me?

Much to my surprise, Hong Kong is brimming with bakeries, pâtisseries, cafés, and cha chaan tengs (Chinese tea restaurants). Sometimes, these are more local shops, serving local desserts. Despite the somewhat negative stereotype that clouds western perceptions about Asian desserts, some of the local sweets here really do hold their own. And there is a fun element of novelty, at least to Chinese-dessert-virgins (you get what I mean).

Justly famous (and incredibly delicious) HK egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery - absolutely craveable!

Justifiably famous, mouthwatering Hong Kong egg tarts from Tai Cheong Bakery in Wan Chai

Take the Hong Kong egg tart, for example – all creamy, custardy, buttery/flaky crust goodness. Best when freshly baked and still  a tad warm, these little tarts are like a sweet hug for your stomach. Maybe it’s bold for me to say, but I do believe they can melt even the staunchest Asian dessert cynic.

Hong Kong residents are hard-core egg lovers – as proven by yet another famous egg-y sweet, the egg waffle. Humble in appearance, when prepared properly, they are slightly crispy on the outside, tender and airy on the inside – sort of the ‘bubble wrap’ of desserts, with the flavor of vanilla cake. The fun, bulbous shapes make tearing off a golden sphere (or 5, or 10) almost impossible to resist!

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Preparing to chow down on an egg waffle – puffy, crispy, tender sweetness!

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The perennially-busy Lee Keung Kee stall outside the Wan Chai MTR station, serving up some of Hong Kong’s finest egg waffles

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Another iconic HK treat is the slyly named ‘pineapple bun’, containing no pineapple (false advertising alert!) but reflecting just the pineapple-like appearance of that extra-golden, puckered, crunchy top that never fails to crumble into a delightful mess. In case you seek a cholesterol boost (beyond the lard that is part of the crunchy top – good luck wiping that from your memory!), most cha chaan tengs serving these local treats can’t leave well enough alone – but instead insert a slab (not a sliver) of butter to melt inside. Try this WAY before your next visit to the cardiologist! Read the rest of this entry »

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Livin’ in the Kong! The (Mostly) Great Outdoors of Hong Kong

fong-vertical-asia-at-lrgHaving immersed myself in Hong Kong for about a year now, it seems an apt opportunity to take a moment (or rather, a few posts) to reflect.

Verdant Hong Kong

The most wonderful surprise for me has been the impressive natural elements found throughout HK – providing a beautiful contrast to HK’s more urban and iconic modern developments. Everyone knows HK is packed with glitzy skyscrapers and shopping malls, but even amidst all of that, you stumble across gigantic trees with sprawling roots that snake down city walls.

One of the most dramatic displays of sprawling tree roots - in the heart of Sheung Wan

In the heart of Sheung Wan, the dramatic interplay between the urban and the natural

Parks are full of greenery, the surrounding islands are lush with foliage. Refreshing to view, perhaps all that plant life even helps make up for the occasional smog by pumping some oxygen into this fair city.

The rich green hues of Lamma Island

The rich green hues of Lamma Island

Lush greenery and massive tree roots at Blake Garden in Sheung Wan

Lush greenery and massive tree roots at Blake Garden in Sheung Wan

Embarking on a wonderful hike on the perimeter of Cheung Chau Island

Embarking on a scenic hike on the perimeter of Cheung Chau

One of the things I love most about HK - the blend of east and west, old and new - right in the heart of the city (Blake Garden, Sheung Wan)

One of the things I love most about HK – the blend of east and west, old and new – right in the heart of the city (Blake Garden, Sheung Wan)

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The Visual Feast of Hong Kong: Through the Lens of Hong Kong Fong, Part 2

Greetings from Hong Kong Fong! Continuing in my new role of China Deputy Bureau Chief and Hong Kong Photo Editor for Pundit From Another Planet, and following my inaugural PFAP post, The Visual Feast of Hong Kong: Through the Lens of Hong Kong Fong, Part 1, I now share with you Part 2.

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Reflecting on Hong Kong and Chinese New Year celebrations

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Quiet deliberation before the boisterous Chinese New Year parade

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Winged dancers perform for thousands at the Chinese New Year parade

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An unguarded moment amidst adoring fans, after a traditional Chinese opera performance at the temporary West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre

The ICC skyscraper (replete with its own CNY-specific light facade) punctuates the skyline near the West Kowloon Bamboo Promenade

The ICC skyscraper (replete with its own CNY-specific light facade), punctuating the skyline near the West Kowloon Bamboo Promenade

The Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade, during which children appear to 'float' through the narrow streets of Cheng Chau island

The Piu Sik (Floating Colours) Parade, during which children appear to ‘float’ through the narrow streets of Cheung Chau Island

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Burning incense at Pak Tai Temple on Cheung Chau Island

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Massive incense sticks perfuming the air outside Pak Tai Temple

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Mother-and-daughter tableau at the Cheung Chau Bun Festival

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The Visual Feast of Hong Kong: Through the Lens of Hong Kong Fong, Part 1

Elder woman paying tribute at Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan, HK

Paying tribute at Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan

Dear PFAP readers – my name is Deb Fong (aka Hong Kong Fong), and I am honored to take on the new role of China Deputy Bureau Chief and Hong Kong Photo Editor for Pundit From Another Planet. Thanks to PFAP for such a kind and generous invitation!

An ‘ABC’ (American-born Chinese), I moved from New York City to Hong Kong with my husband, Mark, about one year ago. In just the past year alone, I’ve experienced what feels like a lifetime of events, a string of colorful moments. Along the way, I have begun to observe the visual feast that is Hong Kong, capture it in my own way – and now I relish the opportunity to share it with you.

Dried octupi in Sai Ying Pun

Dried octopi in Sai Ying Pun

Frolicking inside the walk-in fountain at Hong Kong Park

Frolicking inside the walk-in fountain at Hong Kong Park

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The LED light and recycled water bottle ‘Rising Moon’ installation at Victoria Park, commemorating the Mid-Autumn Lunar Festival

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Fierce dragon boat competitors race toward the finish line on Victoria Harbour

Fierce dragon boat competitors race toward the finish line on Victoria Harbour

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My favorite sprawling trees, along Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan

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A view from the top of HK’s iconic Victoria Peak

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Creatures watching creatures at Ocean Park’s aquarium, on Halloween Day (yes, it’s celebrated in Hong Kong, too)

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