Growing up in Hong Kong, I was surrounded by a frenzied environment obsessed with serving only the best of food. Seafood restaurants served freshly caught fare that was cooked simply to let natural flavors speak for itself, wontons in noodle houses were wrapped before your eyes in the morning, and basic bakeries made everything from breakfast breads to fruit and mousse cakes. For home-cooked meals, it’s common practice to go to the vegetable and meat marketplace every day to buy ingredients for that day’s lunch and dinner, something my mum of course participated in. I was spoiled senseless by Hong Kong’s food standards, and moving to the States made me realize how much catching up we need to do (argue as you may about good food culture in the US, but I guarantee that one visit to a convenience store or a “fast food” restaurant in Hong Kong will leave you speechless). As it is, I tend to pig out every time I go back to the city, and was delighted to find multiple new pastry shops all over the city. From international names like Pierre Herme and Angeline’s to local exclusives like Thomas Trillion and Tony Wong that set a firm mark in the pastry scene for Hong Kong, there is no shortage of pâtisseries for a dessert fanatic.
My first one to visit was A la Folie in the spacious mall of Grand Century Place in Mongkok. All the choices were equally tempting, but I limited myself to the following three: Lover’s Concerto (yellow peach, red peach, white peach cream cheese), Le Matcha (Green tea mousse, chocolate ganache, adzuki beans), and Mt. Blanc (chestnut cream cake).
The Lover’s Concerto was beautifully decorated, but one bite into the cake proved to be disappointing. The cream cheese was light and velvety, but peach flavors were not perceptible. A purplish center of what I assumed to be the red peach mousse was slightly tart, but the cream cheese was so strong and overpowering, they may as well have excluded the center. I was also not impressed that they used canned yellow peaches for the topping.
Le Matcha was a slightly better improvement. The green tea mousse had a thicker and heavier texture than I was accustomed to and tasted strongly of cooking grade matcha powder, but still palatable. The adzuki bean filling was coarse and fragrant, but overly sweet. I appreciated that the chocolate cake had a finer grain than the sponge cake in the Lover’s Concerto, but it wasn’t particularly outstanding.
I was quite disappointed by the time I got to the Mt. Blanc, although I told myself no one can screw up a pastry staple literally every pastry shop carries in Hong Kong. The chestnut cream was fragrant and smooth, and I gave extra points for the generous amount and pairing with cream fouettée, which softens the sweetness of the chestnut cream. There was a bit of candied chestnuts inside that made up for texture, and the coarse grain of the cake contrasted beautifully with the silky cream.
The total came out to $122 HKD, a fair price for well made cakes, but that was unfortunately not the case. Hopefully, this will be the only dent in my cake experience in Hong Kong.
Shop 247, 2/F., Grand Century Plaza
193 Prince Edward Road West, Mong Kok