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Originally published by Sam the Local. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.
As part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage, pineapple buns are an iconic part of our culinary tradition. Named after their crispy golden top, which resembles the skin of a pineapple, these fluffy baked treats are a staple breakfast and afternoon treat, ubiquitous in nearly every local bakery and cha chaan teng in town. Whether you are hankering for a classic recipe or a gourmet iteration stuffed with delights, we’ve got you covered in our round-up of the best pineapple buns in Hong Kong!
Kam Wah Café is a long-standing legend in the local dining scene, popular amongst locals and visitors for its silky-smooth milk tea and pineapple buns. Made from high-quality Japanese flour and consistently served hot out the oven, Kam Wah’s classic pineapple bun ($7) certainly holds its own, but add on a hefty slab of cold butter ($12) and it’s taken to a whole new level of decadence! Besides the delightful hot-and-cold contrast and the aromatic flavour, the butter even has a slight lemon flavour to it, which cannot be found anywhere else!
Kam Wah Café, G/F, 47 Bute Street, Prince Edward | (+852) 2392 6830
Up and running since 1957, Kam Fung Restaurant stakes its well-deserved reputation on a winning trifecta of egg tarts, milk tea, and pineapple buns with butter ($10). Using a time-honoured and perfected recipe, the old-school cha chaan teng bakes up what can only be called the platonic ideal of a pineapple bun: a moist and pillowy-soft sweet bun blanketed by a thick-enough crust that ensures a taste of crispy sugary goodness with every bite. Served with a generous slice of butter that’s cold from the fridge and slowly melts inside, the bun practically does the sweet-talking for itself.
Kam Fung Restaurant, 41 Spring Garden Lane, Wan Chai | (+852) 2572 0526
No trip to Sai Kung is complete without a stop at Sai Kung Café & Bakery, the seaside town’s go-to destination for cakes and pastries par excellence. At $12 a pop, the pineapple buns here lean on the pricey side, but you get what you pay for in terms of size and flavour. Combining techniques from Chinese- and Western-style cooking, the jumbo-sized sweet bread is known for its beautifully browned and almost-crumbly top that stays crunchy even after it’s been left out for a while. Owing to their iconic status, the pineapple buns tend to sell out by 5 pm, so get there early to claim your share!
Sai Kung Café & Bakery, G/F, 6–7 Kam Po Court, 2 Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung
Made famous by the patronage and approval of Hong Kong celebrities like Chow Yun-fat and Shawn Yue, Wa So Café is renowned for its crave-worthy pineapple bun sandwiches. Turning the humble pastry into a hearty lunch affair, they stuff their pineapple buns with all sorts of tasty fillings like ham ($22) and pork chop ($28), but their signature combo ($22) of tomato, butter, and fried egg is what really drives it all home. The balanced juxtaposition between the hot runny egg yolk, cold butter, and the warm bun is sure to have you coming back for more!
We have Tim Ho Wan to thank for giving us an excuse to have pineapple buns for dim sum! Allegedly the pioneer of barbecued pork-stuffed pineapple buns ($25), the Michelin-starred joint has made the pineapple bun spin-off a classic order across the city’s dim sum restaurants, but Tim Ho Wan’s OG version remains a favourite. Sweet-and-savoury fiends will find ample satisfaction as they bite into the crackly cookie crust, and the umami flavour of the sticky barbecued pork filling erupts from the soft, yeasty bun—it’s a veritable party in your mouth!
Since opening its first restaurant in the 1970s, Men Wah Bing Teng has expanded its operations to dozens of locations across the city, becoming a household name for fans of nostalgic cha chaan teng eats. While many come for the famed BBQ pork rice with egg ($68), the perfectly domed and crunchy-topped pineapple buns ($10) will equally have you waxing lyrical. Although the establishment has been around for nearly half a century, it’s not so steeped in tradition that it’s beyond slinging creative offerings like the Big Men ($30), a burger-like creation comprising luncheon meat, scrambled egg, cheese, and tomato nestled between two halves of a toasty pineapple bun.