Header image courtesy of @sofi_coffee_hongkong (via Instagram)
Coffee, cream, cake, and Marsala wine—whose genius was it to meld these ingredients together and create Italy’s most well-travelled dessert: the tiramisù? Although most Italian restaurant menus will feature tiramisù—meaning “pick me up” or “cheer me up”—the origins of the caffeinated (and often boozy) pastry are both elusive and potentially salacious.
However, most will agree that the tiramisù is a relatively young addition to the region’s repertoire of desserts. In fact, the Accademia del Tiramisù, an organisation devoted to “transmitting the culture of tiramisù,” claims that the patriotic dessert sprung from a northern Italian restaurant named Le Beccherie in Treviso as late as 1970.
Whether you are in search of a classically executed dolce to partake in the tradition of tiramisù—as the Accademia would have it—or a pick-me-up of the more unorthodox kind, here’s where to find the best tiramisù in Hong Kong.
Pici is one of our favourite Italian restaurants for its laid-back yet buzzy vibes, affordable pasta dishes, and inclusive menu replete with vegetarian and gluten-free options. With locations all over Hong Kong—including a new venue on the western edge of Hong Kong Island on Cadogan Street—we are big fans of Pici classics like the burrata with arugula ($95) and pappardelle with beef cheek ragu ($140). All of the pasta dishes are freshly made as well.
Although both dessert options at this casual pasta bar are worth sampling, the panna cotta with raspberry coulis ($60) leans fruity and family-friendly. On the other hand, the tiramisù ($60), served in a tidy pot and laced with the customary sprinkling of cocoa, offers a more bittersweet finish for intrepid palates.
Helmed by reputed chef Angelo Agliano, Tosca Di Angelo is easily one of the most sought-after Italian eateries in the city. Sweeping views of Victoria Harbour, Sicilian family recipes passed down over generations, and high-grade ingredients sourced from Italy all conspire to create a stunning dining experience.
Tosca Di Angelo’s tiramisù ($180), while largely traditional, is embellished with thoughtful touches befitting the grand environs. Combined with Marsala wine and dark rum, the pastry is enriched with warming amaretto—the luscious Saronnesi liqueur typically made using apricot kernels, peach stones, or bitter almonds. Following that, instead of a dusting of cocoa powder, Amedei chocolate—artisanal chocolate made using prized cacao from Chuao, Venezuela—is shaved on top. Favouring slightly gritty crystals over the wispy fluff of kakigōri, the final flourish of coffee granita on the side brings it all back to Sicily. Unlike other shaved ice desserts, juice or essence is mixed into the liquid for a granita, a Sicilian invention, before freezing—full-flavoured and summer-ready.
Tosca Di Angelo, Level 102, International Commerce Centre (ICC), 1 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui | (+852) 2263 2270
PMQ’s Gustaci—meaning “taste” in Italian—has earned a reputation for serving up some of the best pizza in Hong Kong. Specialising in Neapolitan-style pies (starting from $100), the kitchen uses naturally leavened dough that’s prepared in-house and fermented for at least 24 hours to develop complex and earthy tones.
In addition to homemade gelato ($30 per scoop) in seven flavours and crisp sfogliatella ($110)—the shell-shaped confection, native to Campania, which is filled with ricotta and candied orange—the tiramisù ($110) comes highly recommended. Keeping it classic with light mascarpone and espresso-dipped ladyfingers, the restaurant uses the recipe of Salvatore de Riso, one of only 70 master pastry chefs in all of Italy.
Gustaci, Shop HG01-05, Block B, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central | (+852) 2981 1418
Ensconced within The Grand Hyatt, Grissini gets its name from its signature breadsticks, which are baked fresh in-house each day. Accompanied by extra-virgin olive oil and a balsamic reduction, they are among the highlights of a meal here—along with Italian country dishes like the ravioli Capresi ($245), a signature dish from the island of Capri which draws from chef Marcello Scognamiglio’s family recipe, and the two-storeyed vinotheque.
While the grissini at Grissini are plentiful and uncompromisingly high quality, that’s not all that shines at this acclaimed restaurant: Chef Marcello’s version of tiramisù ($90) with Savoiardi biscuits is notable, too. Rejecting the sharp corners of individually portioned tiramisu, the dessert, fragrant with amaretto, is presented tableside with a nod to the communal aspect of Italian dining: scooped out of a massive sharing bowl with a ladle.
Grissini, 2/F, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2584 7722
A short stroll away from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) MTR station, Blossom is a relaxed neighbourhood café along Bonham Road. Simply furnished and animated with playful tchotchkes, the unpretentious coffee house is well-regarded for its all-day breakfast ($118), rounded out with a medley of mushrooms and tater tots, and extensive curation of single-origin coffees from beans roasted in-house.
What gets most people through the door, however, is the house tiramisù ($58). Although it is available throughout the day, the silky, carefully constructed tiramisù often runs out by late afternoon. Blossom honours the dessert for what it is with its honest rendition: espresso-soaked sponge and the ooze of mascarpone mingling in contented harmony—no hidden hack or over-the-top trimmings. A note for home-brewers and DIY enthusiasts: Blossom offers a free coffee or drip bag along with a purchase of any of their bags of coffee beans!
Blossom, Shop 2, Hing Hon Building, 63B-F Bonham Road, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 2803 2556
Kowloon City is synonymous with Thai cuisine in Hong Kong, but the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood also offers a number of quirky and quaint attractions—including an apothecary-turned-café for the coffee-curious. Among them is the newly opened Sofi Coffee. Eschewing the Bon Appetit-aesthetic of many third-wave coffee shops in Hong Kong, this spot feels more like a secluded hideout, complete with sparse instrumental tunes and a miniature zen garden. Taking a page out of In Praise of Shadows, the famed meditation on Japanese aesthetics by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, the minimal décor strikes a soothing balance between dark and light, organic and artificial.
Alongside a selection of hand-drip coffees with tasting notes ranging from blackcurrant candy to oolong tea, the Sofi tonic ($55) is a refreshing house special. It pairs well with the vegan OmniPork bao ($78), which pays homage to Kowloon City’s Thai heritage with holy basil and a tamarind-forward sauce reminiscent of the tangy dregs of som tam (ส้มตำ; green papaya salad). Sofi’s take on tiramisù ($60), the most popular item on the succinct menu, matches the moody atmosphere. The pastry is served as a neat square atop a gestural brushstroke of chocolate. Meanwhile, the addition of a “secret” housemade wine makes this the ideal dessert to mull over life’s mysteries—fork handy.
Sofi Coffee, 428–430 Prince Edward Road West, Kowloon City | (+852) 2363 6898
Since relocating from Sham Shui Po to the sequestered warren of residential and commercial buildings along Jordan’s Ferry Street, Kactus Koffee continues to attract a more than steady crowd. Complete with artsy katakana-scrawled prints, copies of Kinfolk, and sleek, minimalist steel-and-glass fixtures, this café was designed for Instagramming.
Although some might find the prospect of a 20- to 30-minute-long wait for indoor seating too prickly to bear, it’s not all about aesthetics here. Signature drinks like the Vienna coffee ($40)—cold brew crowned with whipped cream—and yuzu sparkling water ($35) make this an excellent café to drop by after a toothsome bowl of biang biang noodles a couple of streets away. The homemade tiramisù ($60) at Kactus is certainly worth queueing up for, too. Alcohol-free and with a dense layer of mascarpone, the pastry has great structural integrity, balanced with a silky mouthfeel. It’s also topped with finely grated lemon zest and a sprig of rosemary—the sprightly herb peeks out of the pastry like a nascent sapling—for just a dash of summery brightness in this otherwise broody dessert.
Kactus Koffee, 47 Man Ying Street, Jordan | (+852) 9467 9555
With a spread of salads, salumi, and cheeses fresh and aged alike, you can find one of the more generous mid-range brunches in town at LucAle. And the homemade pasta dishes—like hand-twisted “priest-choker” pasta or strozzapreti with luganega ragu ($168) and pappardelle entwined with rich white Bolognese ($158)—have quickly made it one of our top picks for a smart-casual dinner in Sai Ying Pun.
Dessert at this Michelin-recognised alleyway trattoria eats like a celebration, too. While the specials change to feature seasonal produce—from truffle-garnished spaghetti to the tremendous egg yolk raviolo—the tiramisù is guaranteed to never leave the menu. LucAle’s signature tiramisù ($88) is not for traditionalists—it successfully steers away from the time-tested formula. Crowned with a crisp, brûléed filigree of caramel, layers of mascarpone meet robustly flavoured house-made coffee jelly. The texture of the pastry has been tinkered with as well. Hazelnuts, sourced from Piedmont and sprinkled throughout, lend nutty notes and deliver a satisfying contrast of cream and crunch.
LucAle, Shop A, 100 Third Street, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 3611 1842
Perched atop California Tower, Aria is where executive chef Andrea Zamboni sets his stage to conduct a harmonious symphony of contemporary flavours. Exceptional seasonal ingredients, secret family recipes, and whimsical renditions of Italian cuisine go hand-in-hand under the Bergamo native’s touch, and his signature brand of cooking is particularly emblematic in dishes such as the Italian “xiaolongbao” ($288), a delightful, two-toned parcel of beetroot and squid ink that is filled with turbot, citrus, bergamot, orange and lemon zest, and a rich, jellied stock.
His signature tiramisù ($98) is as classic as it comes, inspired by his childhood where his mother would treat him to a homemade take on the quintessential dessert as a reward for good behaviour. Served in a coupe glass, the popular Italian export takes on a richly yellow and sophisticated appearance to befit the splendid dining experience at Aria.
Aria, 24/F, California Tower, Lan Kwai Fong, Central | (+852) 2804 1116