Best cold treats in Hong Kong
Heat and humidity -- just typing that out makes me lazy. It could've been the long day, but mostly Hong Kong's grueling summers just get to me.
Fortunately, Hong Kong is blessed with adventurous chefs sensitive to our needs and here are their best and most cooling concoctions for these long summer days.
Lobster ice cream
Blueberry cheesecake ice cream, tofu ice cream ... boring. Try lobster and white truffle ice cream from the al fresco Ice-cream Gallery.
Owner and chef Aaron Liu incorporated the flavors of French fine dining into his ice cream and came up with some of the most unconventional flavors in Hong Kong.
Not only is his ice cream free of artificial flavors, each also varies in texture, richness and price. Take the ginger, vinegar and egg ice cream for example, Liu soaks sliced ginger in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, bringing out a sweet and spicy flavor bomb.
Another of his favorites is bacon and egg ice cream, which offers rich wholesome egg flavors and mouthfuls of grease-free bacon goodness.
Something more posh? Liu's ice wine ice cream is the choice. A bottle of HK$1,200 (US$154) full-bodied, Canadian ice wine is used to make each batch of this cool and classy alcoholic dessert.
The French white truffle ice cream is full of pungent white truffle notes but more subtle when compared to black truffle. The lobster ice cream is made from freshly-caught lobsters and tastes exactly like one.
Some flavors do fall on the expensive side, most are reasonably priced. But hey, no one says fine dining comes cheaply.
Ice-cream Gallery, unit G117, The Repulse Bay, 109 Repulse Bay Road, +853 2838 8086
What looks like an ordinary snow mountain dessert from the outside -- yes, snow mountain dessert is considered ordinary here -- is in fact hiding multiple layers.
Sugar Ma Ma owner Tony Chan said the behemoth dessert is made to order and takes 15 minutes to prepare.
The outermost layer of the snow mountain is made of egg white and sugar, with a texture softer than marshmallow.
Hidden inside is a large scoop of ice cream and molten chocolate ready to gush out, while scattered around the plate are some mixed fruits for the more sophisticated palates.
Sugar Ma Ma also offers a buffet dessert every day from 2:30 - 9:00 p.m. Heading the buffet department is a former dessert chef at the Mandarin Oriental. Too bad the gigantic snow mountain has to be ordered separately.
Sugar Ma Ma, G09 Connaught Place, 8 Hong Lok Road, Yuen Long, +852 2477 8812
Deep fried ice cream
Honey Well Confectionery may be tucked in a quiet alley, but its ice creams are by no means ordinary. This dessert joint specialized in ice cream that is best eaten hot.
The amiable owner Eric Ma said he likes to mingle with customers, which has earned him a great reputation among college students in the neighborhood. Through these conversations Ma comes up with new ideas for his menu.
Ma's deep fried ice cream is one of them. Biting into the outer crust, the dessert is crispy, hot, cold and soft all at once.
It has the best of both worlds, a crust that is hot and crispy, and a refreshingly cold core that satisfies sweet teeth. Ice cream flavors, range from mango and green tea to taro and vanilla, and vary each day.
Honey Well Confectionery, Unit 4i, 34E Tak Man Street, Hung Hom, Kowloon, +852 2333 2699
Drunken ice cream
Although a small eatery, Your Restaurant doesn't have a posh setting like some boutique cafes, nor the chic decoration of a frozen yogurt outlet. Yet, like all good restaurants in Hong Kong, line ups are inevitable during peak hours here.
If there's one place you could get drunk on ice cream, it's here. All ice creams are handmade at this Cantonese restaurant and are of limited supply. The top sellers are whiskey, Irish whiskey and guava. The owner is generous with the alcohol.
Through trial and error, the restaurant owner replicated a delicious whiskey ice cream his daughter once tried in Ireland. Together with milk, cream, egg and caramel, this delicacy is only HK$10 a serving.
Your Restaurant, 3 Tai Wong Street East, Wanchai, +852 2529 3806
Red bean ice
Opened in 1962, Kwong Shing Cafe is probably one of the best maintained, old-fashioned cafes and still has ceiling fans installed.
The old-fashioned style extends to its service -- there are only three menus mounted on the wall, and only two set meals exist for simplicity's sake. Its famous red bean ice, however, doesn't come with the set.
The ice is crushed by hand and formed into an iceberg that shoots out from the drink, soaking the evaporated milk. Below it is a thick layer of chewy red beans with a hint of evaporated milk and subtle sweetness.
Kwong Shing Cafe, 10 Sun Shing Road, Shek Wu Hui, Sheung Shui, +852 2670 4501
The lovesick prince
Head over to Golden Hall Dessert and you'll see how Hong Kong has its unique way of personifying foods. "The Infatuated Kiddo," "The Fairy in First Love," and "The Lovesick Prince." Sure they're gimmicky, but they earn the restaurant tons of comments and likes on Facebook.
Every ingredient has a meaning -- for The Lovesick Prince, each component soothes the lovesick. The sundae comes with bananas, blueberries, jello in a heart shape and chocolate chip ice cream. While bananas contain tryptophan which helps induce sleep in the lovesick, the melting ice cream figuratively reminds one that everything will fade.
Golden Hall Dessert; Unit 201 Amoy Plaza II, 77 Ngau Tau Kok Road, Kowloon, +852 2751 8900
Mango rice noodles
Sweetheart Dessert proves dessert utensils don't have to be forks and spoons, and noodle soup bases don't have to be savory. The sweet eatery serves a killer mango juice-base rice noodle that can be eaten with chopsticks.
Since summer is the perfect season for mango, Sweetheart Dessert, unlike most stingy Chinese restaurants, decides to generously place a dozen slices of mango in every bowl of this summer delight and top it off with some translucent and chewy sago.
Sweetheart Dessert, G/F, 16 Hoi Pong Street, Sai Kung; +852 2792 8533
Master Wan's secrets
Although Master Wan is seen on TV shows as a chef host making everyday dishes, he has earned his reputation previously as a chef who fuses Japanese and Chinese cuisine, as well as incorporates healthy eating into Chinese food culture.
Wan spent three decades in Japan and another five years in the United States as a cook. His private kitchen in Hong Kong is therefore a breeding ground for fusion foods from the best of three cuisines.
His red bean snow fungus cake is the perfect example of that. Wan picks red beans from Hokkaido and snow fungus from Sichuan for the scrumptious chilled cake.
Another dessert with a figurative name that translates to Fangs and Dancing Claws sees the combination of New Zealand lobsters, Hokkaido dried scallops, prawns, honeydew melons, papayas and gingers blend together in one plate. All ingredients are of high medical values.
Master Wan (private kitchen), 2/F, 1 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley, +852 3484 3148