Best Egg Tarts in Hong Kong
“The egg tart … is a pastry commonly found in Hong Kong and other Asian countries”. (1) The origins are murky, but “seems likely that they are yet another example of British tea time snacks… adapted to local Chinese tastes” (2)
Currently there are two version, shortbread version more akin to the British version and a flaky puff pastry which is regarded highly amongst Hong Kong food purists. One version provides that crisp biscuit-like bite to it, the other tends to crumble at the slightest touch. Clearly I’ve always had a bias for the flaky one – despite the ‘post-eat-disaster’ scattered all over my shirt and jeans. Both are equally full of buttery goodness and should be filled with a glistening and gooey filling that is silky smooth, scrumptiously creamy and very eggy. Egg tarts are best eaten SCALDING HOT, straight out of the oven!!! But do take it easy when you eat it – I lay no responsibility for burns. You can often tell its piping hot when the person (usually an amateur employee) trying to de-mould and bag the tart struggles with the sheer heat.
I am such a HUGE fan of egg tarts – it is a must at yum cha! Whilst I was in Hong Kong, I personally taste-tested more egg tarts than I should have, eating any that I pass by, and happily travelling an extra few kilometers to seek out the best ones around. My experience is that the type of base and quality of each component varies vastly between different stores and even within chain stores. Each claims theirs is the “best” and “no. 1″… but you have to try them yourself to be sure =).
Anyways here’s two places that I thought were exceptional:
Hoover Cake Shop (豪華餅店)
136 Nga Tsin Wai Road
Kowloon City, Hong Kong
Aside being quite far from most touristy locations and being rather conspicuous as a small corner store, if I had not sought this place out specifically with my trusty guide-book (written in Chinese may I add) I’d have no chance of stumbling upon this place on my own. I peered inside in curiosity and was shocked to find the bakery is no more than 2 meters wide. Against one corner is the oven which takes up half the space, and against the newspaper / billboard covered window was a ceiling-high metal shelf laden with all the lovely baked goodies. Amongst all of that lay a tray of newly baked egg tarts still steaming and wafting that lovely buttery aroma. The custard glistened with a deep yellow and wobbled a little as she bagged the egg tart for me. The flaky shell was just so unbelievably yuMmmm… it was that awesome that I wondered if it was only butter or was there pork lard as well??? Apparently made with Beijing eggs and French cream, the custard is oh so silky and “eggy”.
This is certainly an old-style bakery, without the sleek glamour of its chain store counterparts, that relies heavily on its modest simplicity. According to the billboard – this place has apparently been named King of tarts (冠軍之選), though my photo is too blurred for me to read into it any further. Regardless such wonders from such a little space…
Tai Cheong Bakery (泰昌餅家)
35 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central, Hong Kong
On the other spectrum of bakeries, renowned Tai Cheong bakery brings in hoards of customers at each of its many chain-stores scattered across Hong Kong. Since receiving high praise from Hong Kong’s last governor Chris Patten many years ago, it has sky-rocketed with fame. Queues are a given for Tai Cheung and it’s hard to pass a queue in Hong Kong without going: ooo am I missing out on something? Sometimes you find yourself lining up for something and realise you don’t even know what it’s for. Anyways, I’ve tried more than my fair share of Tai Cheong’s tarts (lost count at how many locations), and have come to the conclusion that the one in Central is particularly good, selling the most scrumptious shortbread version of egg tarts – with a brilliantly crunchy-buttery crust. The custard, like Hoover Cake shop, is unquestionably good.
Of course there were many others that I tried at cafes, restaurants and other bakeries – some were utterly disappointing, some that weren’t so different to the ones we have in Melbourne, and some that came pretty close to the above mentioned. Which type of Egg Tarts are your favourite?