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Where to find the best kaya toast in Hong Kong

By Localiiz 24 May 2024

Header image courtesy of Danielle Tsi (via Alamy)

A simple yet ingenious combination, kaya toast was created in maritime Southeast Asia by Hainanese Chinese immigrants, who worked as galley hands aboard colonial British ships. As they settled in Singapore, Malaysia, and beyond, members of the community opened their own cafés, and the culture of kopitiam (traditional coffee shops mostly found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore) evolved.

Berry preserves and marmalades made way for luscious coconut spreads flavoured with pandan, and in kaya toast—the pale green, vanilla-scented condiment sandwiched between two slices of bread—Southeast Asia found its most popular breakfast pick.

Here in Hong Kong, we may be in cha chaan teng territory, but kopitiam culture is making its mark. Whether you’re looking to start your day off right or nibble on some treats for tea, here’s where to find the best kaya toast in Hong Kong.

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Photo: 捌哥.捌哥特色馬拉茶啡廳 Kopitiam Bagus.Bagus (via Facebook)

Kopitiam Bagus-Bagus

From Michelin-rated dim sum to Bourdain-approved bamboo noodles, Sham Shui Po is a dense microcosm showcasing the best of Hong Kong dining. Kopitiam Bagus-Bagus, a neighbourhood spot modelled after the traditional coffee shops or kopitiam of Southeast Asia, adds to the medley. Its afternoon tea set includes kaya butter toast with the standard trimmings of soft-boiled egg and a drink. A sister location opened its doors in Happy Valley in 2023 and serves the same kaya butter toast à la carte.

Kopitiam Bagus-Bagus, 188 Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2253 6911

Photo: 馬六-海南雞.喇沙.肉骨茶 (via Facebook)

Malacca Cuisine

With nine locations spread out over Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, Malacca Cuisine is a sensible option in a kaya-toast emergency. Service is brisk, and the offerings satisfactory, but the most compelling reason to head here is the variety: Choose from egg yolk kaya or the classic pandan kaya for your teatime snack. Liberal butter is guaranteed no matter which flavour you go for.

Malacca Cuisine, locations across Hong Kong

Baba Nyonya

Named for the Peranakan Chinese community, Baba Nyonya offers a range of popular Malaysian fare. Follow a portion of the roti canai—Malabar paratha-esque flatbread served alongside redolent potato curry—with delectable kaya butter toast and a cup of aromatic teh tarik (pulled tea) or heart-pumping kopi o (black coffee). Baba Nyonya’s kaya is visually striking: it’s a vivid, nearly radioactive green Nyonya-style coconut jam flavoured with pandan—and don’t be alarmed by the slab of butter.

Baba Nyonya, locations across Hong Kong

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Photo: Café Malacca

Café Malacca

Café Malacca is frequently cited as the best Malaysian-Singaporean restaurant in Hong Kong. The menu is a gallery of the classics: Dishes like tender beef rendang, nasi lemak, and lamb korma trace the complex, multicultural history of the region. You can’t fault the kaya toast, either. The bread comes perfectly charred, the pandan kaya generously slathered, and there’s molten butter in abundance—just the way it should be.

Café Malacca, Jen Hong Kong by Shangri-La, 508 Queen’s Road West, Sai Wan | (+852) 2213 6613

Ancient Moon

Ancient Moon has been honoured on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list every year since 2016—and it’s no surprise why. With quirky hand-painted art on the walls and a succinct menu of affordable one-bowl wonders like chilli pan mee and laksa, this hidden gem is a hit with the lunch crowds. Its kaya toast here comprises two thick-cut triangles slathered generously with butter and the eponymous golden jam. Pair it with a glass of creamy and aromatic teh tarik—it’s the very best you’ll find this side of Penang.

Ancient Moon, 29 Kam Ping Street, North Point | (+852) 3568 4530

Wing Wah Southeast Asia Café

True to owner Stephen’s mixed heritage (his father is Singaporean), Tai Ping Shan’s Wing Wah Southeast Asia Café serves up an eclectic tea set of kaya toast with Hong Kong-style milk tea between 3 pm and 5 pm every day. Wing Wah is also one of the only places in Hong Kong to serve up kaya pineapple buns! Think fluffy pineapple bun smeared with Hainanese-style brown sugar kaya and you won’t be able to resist this afternoon tea treat.

Wing Wah Southeast Asia Café, 1A Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 3460 3240

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Wai Kee Noodle Café

Visitors flock to Wai Kee to experience the “gritty” and old-school underbelly of dining in the “Fragrant Harbour,” but the café is well worth journeying to off-tour. In addition to noodle soup with pig liver, Wai Kee’s signature is decadent kaya French toast. It comes with a hearty dollop of butter on top, and you’ll see patrons around you pouring honey over the pillowy bread. Follow suit, because what happens at Wai Kee stays between you and your plastic fork (and a dozen strangers you’ll share your table with).

Wai Kee Noodle Café, 62–66 Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po | (+852) 2387 6515

Photo: Rempah Noodles (via Facebook)

Rempah Noodles

Specialising in Singaporean-Malaysian cuisine, Rempah Noodles is among the few spots—if not the only one—in Hong Kong to actually make its own kaya. Here, you’ll find pale green Nyonya-style kaya prepared fresh each morning and flavoured with what the head chef calls “the vanilla essence of Asia”: pandan. You can tell this stuff isn’t coming out of a jar, either; fondly smeared onto toast, Rempah’s coconut jam is luxuriously creamy, almost like choux pastry filling. It’s no wonder it often runs out by dinnertime.

Rempah Noodles, 18 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 3618 4863

First published on 19 March 2020. Last updated by Lily Valette.

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