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8 most iconic Hong Kong egg dishes

By Alisa Chau 28 September 2021

Header image courtesy of @ittravelufeat (via Instagram)

A seriously versatile ingredient that many begin their culinary journey with, eggs are a fantastic staple to a plethora of cuisines worldwide. It holds an esteemed place in Hong Kong-style cooking as a beloved component that adds an irreplaceable velvety texture and a signature rounded taste. Check out our list of “eggcellent” dishes that have woven their way into the vibrant fabric of Hong Kong’s quintessential dining scene!

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Egg tarts (蛋撻)

A list of egg dishes in Hong Kong would simply not be complete without mention of the humble egg tart (蛋撻; daan2 daat3), nor a list of Hong Kong cuisine in general. An unofficial edible symbol of the city, it is a widely loved item that showcases the best of East-meets-West innovation that Hong Kong is known for.

Shaped like a flower, its crunchy puff pastry lining (or biscuit base, depending on your preference) beautifully contrasts the luscious custard centre that gleams amber under the light. Best eaten fresh out the oven, here are our favourite spots around the city to indulge in one (or six) of these delicious pastries.

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Egg custard bun (奶黃包)

Next time you find yourself craving dim sum, be sure to save some room for this sweet treat. Buried in the centre of a pillowy white bao lies a silken, golden cream, beaten from an enriched version of custard that has been folded with egg yolks, milk powder, evaporated milk, and white sugar. Its invention is accredited to the team behind Spring Moon at the Peninsula and has only been around since the 1980s, despite serving as a nostalgic delicacy for many.

Its dense yet delicate mouthfeel, coupled with a not-to-overbearing sweetness, has led the egg custard to become a much-demanded item, not only in bun form but also as a filling for mooncakes. Other iterations have seen the egg custard bun (奶黃包; naai5 wong4 baau1) transformed into a pastry oozing with saffron-coloured lava (流沙包; lau4 sa1 baau1), or adorable character-shaped buns with mouths spewing forth custard, and more.

Photo: @comescontigo (via Instagram)
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Egg waffles (雞蛋仔)

Having reigned as one of Hong Kong’s most beloved street snacks for over half a century now, these delicious bubbles of goodness are an unmissable fixture in the city’s culinary annals. As the story goes, the egg waffle (雞蛋仔; gai1 daan2 zai2) was actually birthed by a grocery store owner, who repurposed a crate of botched eggs into a delicacy. Its puffed-up shell a crunchy golden brown and its insides a sweet cloud of chewiness, the bubble-wrap-resembling treat is one that is as exciting to catch sight of as it is to dig into. Spurring many spin-offs, this distinctive item has worked its way into extravagant desserts, as well as being incorporated into eyebrow-raising savoury dishes. Check out our list of Hong Kong’s finest egg waffles and see which one’s your favourite.

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Photo: @madebymamajean (via Instagram)
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Tea egg (茶葉蛋)

If its herbaceous aroma has not already signalled you to the treasures ensconced within, the marbled strokes of brown that appear under its cracked shell should. Marinated and brewed twice in tea-infused stock, this parcel of deliciousness offers in one gourmet bite the rich fragrances of the tea leaves intermingling with the thick umami of the stock used for cooking, as well as the luscious texture of the gossamer-like boiled yolk and gelatinous whites. Stew on the storied past of this irreplaceable treat by checking out the history of tea eggs (茶葉蛋) here.

Photo: @cray4food (via Instagram)
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Cha chaan teng-style egg sandwich (蛋治)

Cheap, quick, easy, and emblematic of a dining style that is uniquely Hong Kong, cha chaan tengs (茶餐廳) have served as the birthplace of many dishes iconic to the city. For something reliable to enjoy on the go, you can never go wrong with a sandwich or an omelette, which is how this particular creation has maintained its popularity and lasting power. Enjoyed as a pick-me-up or as a light breakfast, the egg sandwiches (蛋治; daan2 zi6) served at a local cha chaan teng are special in their extremely fluffy yet thick scrambles.

The secret to this unbeatable consistency is to add a splash of milk when beating the eggs. Pour out only half of it into the pan at first, then add in the rest of the liquid once the first half has been half-cooked and pulled into the middle of the pan. Think of this egg sandwich as a foundation; once you have mastered the basics, why not throw in some other Hong Kong-style additions, like corned beef (蛋牛治; corned beef and egg sandwich) or ham (火腿蛋治; ham and egg sandwich)—or even come up with your own version!

Photo: @inthemoodforfood____ (via Instagram)
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Silky scrambled egg rice (滑蛋飯)

Another dish that draws upon the simplicity and near-universal appeal of scrambled eggs, this adaptation elevates it to a whole new level, while still remaining humble in its presentation and pricing. In fact, no additional ingredients are involved in creating the signature silken texture of the scrambled egg rice (滑蛋飯; waat6 daan2 faan6)!

The cook is only required to keep the heat low when prepping the lightly beaten eggs, being quick but gentle to stir it around for about five to six rounds. It sounds simple, but ensuring that these two elements are cooked just right is harder than you may think. Typically, the egg and rice are enjoyed with scrumptious additions like char siu or plump shrimps, garnished with a generous flash of spring onions and a few droplets of soy sauce.

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Salt roasted quail eggs (鹽焗鵪鶉蛋)

As the days grow shorter and the air grows colder, the familiar fragrance of roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes make their anticipated return as two of Hong Kong’s most popular wintertime foods. Peddled from pushcarts fitted with stovetops powered by charcoal, the street hawkers who offer up these cherished morsels have another speciality up their sleeves—salt-roasted quail eggs (鹽焗鵪鶉蛋; jim4 guk6 am1 seon4 daan2).

The hours of toil and arm work that go into cooking these eggs are definitely highlighted in every mouthful. Tossed in a bed of salt and different variations of old-school Chinese seasoning, the speckled, olive-sized quail eggs are the perfect receptacle for the smoky earthen infusion that only charcoal can provide. Its natural flavour is similar to chicken eggs, with less of a sulphuric undertone. As winters become warmer and briefer, these traditional carts are dwindling in numbers, which is an extra incentive for you to give this item a try when coming across one.

Photo: @sugarcatb (via Instagram)
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Egg rolls (蛋捲)

As with any item that appears in multiple different cultures, the origins of the crispy egg roll (蛋捲; daan2 gyun2) are murky at best. Oft likened to Spanish and Filipino barquillo, this cylindrical biscuit is made from a simple batter that consists of flour, sugar, egg whites, and butter, which is rolled out into a sheet before being moulded into its recognisable form. An old Chinese tale states that it was first conceived of by the poor folk as a way of stretching out scant egg supplies, whereby wild greens were added to the mixture to make for a whole meal.

Fortunately, modern egg rolls are flavoured with much more appetising ingredients and fillings. Hong Kong’s version of the egg roll incorporates wheat flour instead and is conventionally vanilla-flavoured, lending to a mellowed, fragrant sweetness that is complemented by the eggy undertones and flaky mouthfeel. Once sold along the streets freshly made, it is now more commonly found in-store sealed in airtight tin boxes, making for a crunchy snack any time of the day as well as the perfect gift during Chinese New Year house visits.

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Alisa Chau

Junior editor

Always down for an adventure, Alisa’s general approach to life (and anything, really) is to “just go with the flow.” She believes that the most unforgettable moments are the most spontaneous ones. One thing she will always be certain of, however, is her love for the band My Chemical Romance and potato-based food.

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