Iconic Hong Kong Foods: Buns and Bakeries

Contributor
Some of the sweet and savory treats inside Hong Kong's bakeshops.
WikimediaCommons/JpatokalWikimediaCommons/Jpatokal
WikimediaCommons/Jpatokal

WikimediaCommons/JpatokalWikimediaCommons/Jpatokal

Think iconic Hong Kong foods and your mind likely automatically goes to its teashops and dim sum. But the sheer number of bakeries and the variety of treats inside them, has to make this a third contender. And if you like meat between your buns, then Hong Kong’s your place.

You’ll find a fair share of buns hugging a plethora of fillings. Eating pastries in Hong Kong can be an enjoyable culinary experience if you leave behind Western notions and welcome meat in lieu of fruit when it comes to pastry fillings.

In the event that you can’t wrap your mind around pastries being synonymous with minced meat fillings but are feeling adventurous nonetheless, then alternatives are the many tarts and buns filled with custards and creams created from sweetened bean pastes and sprinkled with sesame.

You might assume that with fillings like minced pork or beans, the pastries aren’t as sweet as their Western counterparts, but this is not the case. Pastries are nuanced with a different kind of sweetness and richness altogether. In some cases the bean pastes and meat fillings can be sweeter than the savory taste you’d expect. Tarts are on the flakier end as most bakers use shortcrust or puff pastry made traditionally with lard and not shortening or butter. Many of the buns resemble Hawaiian breads at their sweetest and steamed varieties are as commonplace as baked ones, which accounts for the softness and moistness.

Although moon cakes are one of Hong Kong's more iconic pastries due to their significance to Chinese holidays, there are other classics too. They accompany daily tea time meals and celebrations alike. These include local favorites such as egg tart (which is often a marker of a good bakery), pineapple bun, cocktail bun, red bean bun, and the numerous buns filled with minced pork, barbecued pork, tuna salad, and curried chicken.

Click here for a slideshow of some of Hong Kong's best bakeries.