It has been almost one year since Sweetpea Cafe’s soft opening in Sheung Wan. Every time I walk in, I’m greeted by owner Ange Hon, her staff and the sweet smell of Angel’s freshly baked cakes. The café has now expanded from its simple breakfast menu to include savoury lunch options and a drink menu. I sat down with Angel to discuss her humble beginnings and why she decided to open a gluten-free café.
Why did you open Sweetpea Cafe?
Choosing to turn my passion into a business is a dream. Originally, I was an architect, but my passion lies in baking and cooking, so I made the career change. I ran an online shop for cake orders and made the deliveries. I decided to open Sweetpea so that people can come to enjoy a warm atmosphere that includes food and cake. I missed the daily interactions with regulars and new customers.
The popularity of Sweetpea has spread based on referrals and word of mouth. I enjoy having conversations with everybody who comes into Sweetpea – whether it’s sharing cooking techniques or their experience at the café to create a community.
How did your baking journey begin?
I really enjoyed baking during high school. I would bake so many desserts and deliver them to all my friends as presents or just for fun.
Every time I come to Sweetpea for a slice of cake, there is always a new creation. How do you decide these daily or monthly cake flavours?
We are very ingredient driven, so the flavours change seasonally. We offer signature cakes such as the double Earl Grey, banana salted caramel and strawberry shortcake. However, we rotate the cakes. New creations are inspired by my travels and dining out.
Are there times where you have considered giving up?
Never. I think you’ll always run into challenges when you run your own business. When my online shop became more popular, managing the deliveries while cooking and baking became a little more stressful. I didn’t have a team to help me back then.
There are a lot of bakeries in Hong Kong, but this is the first time I’ve seen dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan cakes made daily. How do you differentiate Sweetpea from other cafés and bakeries?
I stress sustainability and quality at Sweetpea. Sourcing and maintaining the quality of the ingredients are most important. I want to offer something artisanal to those who visit Sweetpea Cafe in the food, decorations of the cakes and the comforting, at-home ambience.
Are there any Chinese-inspired desserts you have made or that will come to Sweetpea in the future?
Chinese desserts will come. For cakes, there’s nothing so far, but during mid-autumn, we made mooncake tarts. It was a shortcrust pastry with custard and egg yolk inside.
The café menu is full of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dishes, but your cakes seem to be the most popular. Where do you get your inspiration?
From people or bakeries I have been to overseas. I’ll do my own twist on the decoration and change the flavour. It’s all from food memories of living in Hong Kong or being abroad.
What can we expect in the future for Sweetpea?
A lot of ideas! I do not want the café to be a chain. I want to maintain Sweetpea with one unique location. Maybe a sister café in the future that offers plated desserts and cocktails – somewhere you can go during the evening.
4 Shin Hing Street, Sheung Wan, 3689 7269