Pineapple buns, pronounced boh loh bao, are really works of wonder. This simple Hong Kong pastry managed to get itself listed as a part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage. Our grandparents have been eating them since they were kids (and so have we), but as we grow up, pineapple buns, too, have to keep up with the times. Although there are plenty of bakeries proudly keeping to their tried-and-tested traditional recipes, here’s a list of seven next-level pineapple buns that live in the here and now.
The Pineapple Bun Icy Treat Sandwich ($68) from Eat Darling Eat is a modern interpretation of this culinary icon. Instead of the yellow top crust that we are so familiar with, these buns have a darker and crunchier shell compared to their traditional cousins. Inside, you’ll find a fluffy, light texture that melts away at the first bite. Finally, making use of the actual name of the pastry, Eat Darling Eat completes their contemporary update with fresh cubes of pineapple mixed together with light custard cream as the bun filling and a generous scoop of pineapple sorbet, making them legitimate “pineapple” baos.
Eat Darling Eat, Shop 17, G/F, Fashion Walk, 11–19 Great George Street, Causeway Bay | (+852) 3188 8949
Pineapple bun croissant—or Ball Law Cowssant ($30), as Urban Bakery calls them—is the perfect union of Hong Kong pastry and the French school of baking. The croissants are freshly made in-store every day with proper French AOC butter, specially flown in from France. This gives the croissant an airy honeycomb texture while retaining the crunchy exterior. With a classic layer of pineapple bun crust on top, what you get is an extra element of crisp to an already delicate baked good. Oh, and you can also opt to add in a slab of butter sandwiched in the middle for an additional guilty pleasure.
Urban Bakery, Room 322, 3/F, The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 3565 4320
Butter seems to be the common theme of things found sandwiched in a pineapple bun, but have you ever considered frozen cream instead? Ours Kissa-Ten (yes, we know, what a name) makes a Japanese-style pineapple bun called Pineapple Danish with Cream ($22). But why a Danish, you ask? Because these pastries are slightly smaller than the traditional pineapple bun. But fret not—when baked to perfection, the crunchy crust we know and love covers a larger surface area than we’d get with a regular pineapple bun. The Danish is then sliced exactly at 45 degrees before you get to choose what flavoured slab of frozen cream you would like to add: plain cream, cream cheese, match, strawberry, or chocolate!
OURS Kissa-Ten, Shop 6B, G/F, Hoi Kwong Court, 13–15 Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay
Ookie Cookie takes crazy desserts to an unreal level, working their magic with fondant sugar and cream. They can, quite frankly, replicate any design you give them and their cakes are so life-like, you start doubting whether it’s a cake or not! A truly next-level pineapple buns list would not be complete without their Pineapple Bun Cake that comes with a slab of butter and a can of coke on the side. They really outdid themselves with the attention to details, such as the tiny cracks on the pineapple crust and the slightly toasted brown parts. Not sure if we should be slicing this cake or gobbling it down whole!
Ookie Cookie, Shop 302, Lee Garden Two, Causeway Bay | (+852) 9220 9622
Lee Lo Mei has opened its doors again after a summer renovation. Given that the concept of the restaurant is remaking traditional HongKongnese dishes, pineapple buns have to be on the list. Adequately named as Ping Pong Buns ($118), they are made of mini pineapple buns sliced in half, with a juicy char siu patty, pineapple jam, and a perfectly-round slice of pineapple to give it a citrus taste to cut through the fattiness. We have to applaud them for the best dish names we have ever seen on a restaurant menu and it just about makes you want to order more!
Lee Lo Mei, G–1/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central | (+852) 2896 7688
Shun Hing is famous for their Scrambled Egg and Char Siu Rice, but did you know that they have another genius invention under their belt? It’s a mix of everything Hongkongers love: the Pineapple Bun with Scrambled Egg and Butter ($22)! We’re talking three layers of pineapple bun with gently-scrambled eggs and melted butter. The top layer is the classic, sweet pineapple bun crust, followed by their signature folded eggs, then another layer of bread before you bite into a chunk of soft butter, and a final layer of bottom bun to hold it all together. With the amount of calories in this bad boy, it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Shun Hing, First Lane, King Street, Tai Hang | (+852) 2576 6577
Perhaps the most famous pineapple bun in Hong Kong, Wa So Cafe’s Pineapple Bun Sandwich ($19) is frequented by many Hong Kong celebrities—and us! With a crunchy top, fluffy interior, and a bun sliced sideways for maximum filling space, you can choose to add whatever ingredients you like to this iconic bun sandwich. We would definitely recommend that you fill the bun to the brim with tomato slices, a pan-fried egg, cheese, and a thick slab of butter. The toasted bun will warm the butter so that when you bite into the sandwich and break the runny yolk, the gooey egg merges with the buttery goodness!
Wa So Café, locations vary