Award-winning pastry chef Dominique Ansel opened Dang Wen Li here early last year as a whimsical celebration of nostalgic local flavours, modelling his imaginative pastries on well-loved, popular regional snacks and drinks. The name Dang Wen Li (當文歷餅店) is literally a transliteration of “Dominique” in Cantonese, and alongside his quirky HK-centric flavours, there’s also a buttery line-up of viennoiserie specialities to entice a wide range of palates.
The James Beard–winning pastry chef is well known the world over for his creation of the cronut, which was named one of Time magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2013.
This autumn welcomes a new savoury collection at Dang Wen Li’s flagship shop at H Queen’s in Central, as well as at the DWL outlet at Tsim Sha Tsui’s Harbour City. Keeping true to the HK theme, the savoury menu includes well-loved local favourites such as macaroni soup and scrambled egg sandwiches with unique DWL twists.
Our meal at the flagship H Queen’s restaurant started with a warm, decadently rich mug of the signature blossoming hot chocolate ($68), featuring a marshmallow chrysanthemum that blooms as it is dropped into the hot drink. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate, this drink could definitely substitute for a hefty dessert.
The lobster bisque ($98), part of the autumn savoury menu, is a refined play on a typical cha chaan teng staple – macaroni soup. The creamy soup bursts with rich, shellfish flavours and sweet morsels of lobster. The macaroni itself helps to soak up the deliciously umami soup, while freshly baked garlic toast soldiers made with DWL’s brioche are on standby to mop up the bowl.
Another play on a popular item at local diners, the HK-style borscht ($78) features hearty cuts of beef and vegetables in a tomato broth thickened with alphabet pasta. A tasty and comforting way to brush up on your ABCs!
The OmniPork Luncheon and egg croissant ($58) is definitely a cheat-day dish, featuring creamy scrambled egg with green onion and OmniPork Luncheon sandwiched between DWL’s signature flaky croissant. We really enjoyed the savouriness and texture of the flavourful OmniPork (despite it being all vegetarian) against the silky egg.
Continuing on the trend of scrambled egg, we couldn’t pass up the chance to try the turnip cake English muffin with soft scrambled egg ($68). The bun, made with shredded turnip, spiced pork, dried shrimp and shiitake mushroom, is stacked around oozy scrambled egg and a generous smear of Yu Kwen Yick chilli mayonnaise. The bun is very flavourful, although we wish that the turnip cake texture was more pronounced.
For the carnivores, there’s the Sun Kwai Heung (新桂香燒臘) char siu and egg croissant ($68), made using BBQ pork from one of the city’s most renowned roast meats shops, based in Chai Wan. Each morning, the best cuts of BBQ pork are saved by the popular shop and sent to DWL to use in these sandwiches. We know that fatty cuts of char siu have amazing tenderness and flavour, but as we were already indulging in a buttery croissant with creamy scrambled egg, we thought that the pork addition was a bit too rich for our taste. We much preferred the OmniPork version of the croissant sandwich.
As part of the “Around the World” limited dessert collection, the stout beer ($65) is shaped in the whimsical form of a frothy glass of beer and features stout-chocolate crémeux, stout-chocolate cake, chocolate wafer and brown sugar Chantilly cream. You definitely get a undercurrent of hoppy bitterness with each bite, and this is a must-try for any full-bodied beer aficionados out there.
Made fresh to order, the chestnut madeleines ($58) are served piping hot, like real chestnuts sold street-side, and are filled with molten whisky-chestnut cream. Bet you can’t have just one!
Another item in the “Around the World” collection, the soufflé pancake ($65) is two plump stacks of maple syrup mousse, banana and sponge cake, with a brown sugar and pecan filling. Salted mascarpone cream is made to look like butter on top, complete with maple syrup nappage.
The burrata ($62) is a shiny globe of basil-infused mascarpone cream wrapped around a strawberry compote centre with lady’s fingers. We weren’t sure if it was our brain playing tricks on us, but the mildly sweet strawberry compote truly did remind us of fresh tomatoes. What a curious, illusionary dessert.
Our favourite of the sweet bunch, the milk tin panna cotta ($65) is a nostalgic play on the much-loved Black & White condensed milk brand and features a white chocolate “tin” filled with salted caramel panna cotta and rum-soaked brioche. The silkiness of the slightly savoury and bitter caramel really accentuates the milkiness of the dessert.
A worthy calorie splurge on a cheat day, Dang Wen Li indulges not only the palate but also the eyes. We felt like kids at a candy shop, transported back to our childhood with nostalgic flavours and new discoveries alike.
Central: Shop 2, G/F, H Queen’s, 80 Queen’s Road Central, 3482 7735
TST: Shop OT G63A, G/F, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, 3–27 Canton Road, 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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