The highly anticipated Hong Kong bakery by world-renowned French pastry chef Dominique Ansel has finally arrived! Situated in always-busy Harbour City, Dang Wen Li is Ansel’s first Asia venture outside Tokyo (with that shop now shut), describing itself as “a capsule collection of pastries and treats exclusively for Hong Kong”. The name “Dang Wen Li” is also said to be Ansel’s name in Chinese.
Curiously, Dang Wen Li does not serve Ansel’s signature cronut. However, there are plenty of other gorgeous and delicious desserts, pastries and savoury bites to feast your eyes and bellies on.
We’re sure you’ve seen some of the impressive HK-themed creations blowing up on social media – but are they worth the fuss? Here are five absolutely must-try eats and two we would recommend giving a miss…
First, the must-tries:
1. Fish balls
One of HK’s favourite street snacks gets a sweet makeover in the form of these red bean ice cream mochi fish balls ($68) that imitate crispy, fried fish balls. We recommend eating these little balls whole so as not to waste any of the deliciously smooth ice cream hidden by their doughnut-like exterior.
2. Silk egg katsu sando
You may not have expected a savoury dish to make our top list about a pastry spot, but the silk egg katsu sando ($88) was probably the creation we enjoyed most at Dang Wen Li. With what is truly silky, creamy scrambled egg and a crunchy coating that did not get soggy (despite the amount of time we spent taking pictures before eating), this is a dish you cannot miss.
3. DKA (Dominque’s kouign amann)
One of our all-time favourite French pastries, the DKA ($38) takes the metaphorical kouign-amann cake. Made with equal parts (30%) of butter, sugar and dough and referred to as “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe”, these indulgent pastry delights are all too easy to gobble up in one go. Although it takes much self-restraint, try your best to savour each delectable bite. We also recommend giving the classic croissant ($28) a try for another delicious buttery treat.
4. Pineapple bun
The HK pineapple bun has long caused confusion amongst expats owing to the fact that it does not actually contain pineapple (rather, the sugary topping somewhat resembles the fruit). Ansel has set out to change this once and for all with his coconut, pineapple and passion fruit version of the pineapple bun ($65). The “butter” has a strong pineapple flavour, and inside the “bun” lies a tangy passion fruit mousse. The tart, fruity flavours cut through the sweetness of the coconut cake.
5. Chestnut madeleines
Perhaps not the most Instagrammable of Dang Wen Li’s creations, the chestnut madeleines ($68) are certainly one of the tastiest and are sure to hold a special place in many Hong Kongers’ hearts. Conjuring up memories of street vendors selling roasted chestnuts on a cold winter’s day, these bite-sized madeleines contain a chestnut-flavoured filling with a mochi-like texture.
And those you might want to skip:
1. Lemon juice box
It breaks our hearts to admit that the absolutely beautiful and intricately designed lemon juice box ($62) does not taste as good as it looks. While we enjoyed the Earl Grey bergamot cake filling, the exterior is covered in a thick coating of white chocolate that overpowered the delicate tea flavour and made the cake far too sweet.
2. Hong Kong milk tea cookie shot
We were excited to try the Hong Kong milk tea cookie shot ($48), so this one also makes us a bit sad. Unfortunately, the milk tea was not as strong as we would have liked and felt a bit watered down. While the cookie was tasty, the white chocolate coating on the inside was, again, too sweet. However, the white chocolate did an impressive job of making sure the cookie didn’t disintegrate.
Shop OTG63A, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, TST, 2613 8618
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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