Tag Archives: Pastry

Day 3: Bun, bun-bun, bun… bunnnnn!

Posted from Tai Mo Shan, New Territories, Hong Kong.

On day 3 of our trip to Hong Kong, we started off with a very common Hong Kong dish, the butter cream bun. Found in every train station and marketplace, are shops selling filled buns. They’re even more common than the ubiquitous doughnut shop in the U.S., and fill a similar niche. Think of them as the Hong Kong equivalent to the Parisian crepe.

Unlike what you’d expect from Asian pastries, these are almost exclusively wheat-flour buns, and are baked instead of steamed or fried. For the most part, they have the consistency of Hawaiian bread, and are available with both sweet and savory fillings.

butter cream bun
butter cream bun

First off, my favorite of the bunch, butter cream bun. This was a sweet bun, almost exactly the same as Hawaiian bread, both in flavor and texture. It was stuffed-full with a soft, creamy, butter filling. Thankfully, not margarine, and also not heavy or oily as butter can sometimes be. Dusted over the top with shaved coconut, this was a perfect way to start the day!

butter cream bun
butter cream bun

We snuck in that first one as we were waiting for the train. We headed to the outskirts of the New Territories to visit my wife’s grandmother at her nursing home. We arrived just as she was finishing lunch, but she quickly joined us in the courtyard to gorge ourselves on these wonderful buns.

Grandma Au taking a call
Grandma Au enjoying a call from her granddaughter in NYC
Beef Bun
Beef Bun

As I mentioned, many of the buns have savory fillings. This one had a nice stewed beef, and made for a perfect balance between a light snack and something more substantial.

Following the beef bun, were two filled with a tuna-salad mixture. These both were topped with chives, and had a hint of onion in the pastry itself.

tuna-filled bun
tuna-filled bun
tuna-filled bun
tuna-filled bun

This next one was a little different. Instead of being a bun, the “curry beef triangle” was baked in the style of a French pastry, with all the flaky crispy layers you could imagine. As you would expect from the name, the filling was a green beef curry. Slightly spicy, the contrast of texture and flavor between the pastry and the filling makes for a wonderful combination.

curry beef triangle
curry beef triangle
curry beef triangle filling
curry beef triangle filling

One last bun, appears to have been made using whole-wheat flower. Covered with sesame seeds, I can only guess at what the filling was. I apparently neglected to take a photo of the inside.

mystery bun
mystery bun

Now that I know about these buns, I can’t wait for a return trip. Apparently, there are peanut-butter filled buns, as well as sausage ones reminiscent of a bagel-dog!

Tea for Twenty

Posted from Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Continuing on Day 1 of our fantastic culinary tour of Hong Kong, a little before noon, we headed over to Pearl’s uncle’s house. He was the father of the groom, and they were holding the traditional pre-wedding ceremony.

In this ceremony, the bride and groom serve tea to their parents, and then in turn to each of the elder family members present. Pearl and I weren’t personally served, as Pearl is only a cousin of the groom, but her parents were. It was a bit awkward for me (there are several pictures of me as the only non-Chinese in the very crowded condo).

While we were waiting for the Bride and Groom to show up (they were at the Bride’s parents’ going through the same ceremony) we had plenty of snacks and appetizers. At this point, I was going on only about 2 hours of sleep in the last 40+, so you’ll have to forgive me for not capturing everything.

There were some wonderful pecan cookies, a bit more like shortbread than you usually find here in the US:

Pecan Cookies

As well as these great lotus seed pastries. Lotus seed is a very common filling for cakes and sweets in Hong Kong. It is very sweet, and has the texture of a hard-boiled egg yolk.

Lotus Seed Pastries
Lotus Seed Pastries

And my personal favorite is these sesame seed balls. They are white rice-dough, almost the same texture as mochi. The centers are filled with a sweet black sesame-seed paste. They’re boiled in water, sometimes with sugar and some ginger, making a very light broth, and served warm. I have some in the freezer that I think I’m going to have to pull out now….

Sesame Seed Balls
Sesame Seed Balls

Lick it up

Posted from Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Growing up as a kid, I always loved the Sunday mornings when we would stop by the local doughnut shop on the way home from church. It was steaming hot sugary bliss that was sure to leave my brother and I hyperactive for hours.

Along with the steaming bowls of congee that so pleasantly woke me up, my mother-in-law triggered these fond childhood memories with this delectable pastry that I could eat for breakfast any day of the week.

Ngau Lay Soh or “Cow Tongue Pastry” is so called because it looks somewhat like a bovine tongue, but luckily has neither the same taste or texture. Instead, it tastes like a typical American doughnut, but without any kind of topping or glaze. Eat it plain, or dip it into your congee. The slight sweetness and fluffy texture are sure to put a smile on your face.

Outside of Hong Kong, so far I’ve only been able to find this in New York and London. If anyone knows where to get it in Los Angeles, I’d love to know.