After an evening meal at a Cantonese restaurant, dessert may be served. In addition to just large restaurants, the bay area branches out a little bit by having a few dessert cafes around as well. Note, the phrase “tong sui” (literally sugar water) is used to describe the traditional sweet, warm dessert soup at the end of a meal, but newer dessert trends are seen as well that do not fit that mold. These dessert soups are commonly served hot.
Some common desserts:
- Almond tea: This is an interesting dessert mainly since the English name is rather of a misnomer. The almond tea is actually made from ground up Chinese south almonds which are actually sweet apricot kernels and they are not the same as well… regular almonds. There are also such things as Chinese north almonds which are bitter apricot kernels (contains cyanide). The sweet almonds are ground into a fine powder, strained after soaking in water, and can be mixed with rice or egg whites for a creamier texture. This dessert can be served hot or cold.
- Black sesame soup: This dessert soup is made of toasted black sesame seeds, rice, water, and sugar. The ingredients are ground/blended into a fine powder and then cooked resulting in a thick, sweet soup. Sometimes you see tang yuan (small balls of glutinous rice flour with possible fillings inside) added to the black sesame soup.
- Pomelo, mango, sago: A rather more contemporary dessert made in the early 80s, the dessert base is chilled mango blended made with coconut milk, milk, and evaporated milk that is topped with pomelo fruit, sago pearls, and fresh mango. There are a lot of variations in this combination including ice cream and pudding forms, but also mixed with other chilled desserts.
- Red bean soup: This dessert consists mainly of red beans (Adzuki beans/red mung bean), water, and sugar with possible additions of tangerine peel or lotus seeds; variations include additions such as sago, tapioca, or well pretty much anything they want.
- Steamed milk pudding/Double skin/boiled milk (dun nai): This steamed milk pudding is made of milk, egg whites, and sugar and served either hot or cold. The milk custard should have a very soft texture, similar to panna cotta. There is another variation with whole eggs rather than whites which has well, a more eggy taste.
- Tofu Pudding (Fa): The tofu pudding is made with using soft tofu and is usually served with granulated brown sugar, brown sugar syrup, or ginger syrup. The tofu should be silky smooth. This dessert can be served either hot or cold.
- Turtle shell jello (gui ling gao): The turtle shell jelly is typically a dark brown/black jello in appearance. Although true turtle shell jello is actually made from powdered shell, they are more expensive and thus, usually omitted. The blend of herbal products minus the turtle shell is used to make the jello. It is not sweet, but slightly bitter, but sweeteners such as syrup or honey can be added to make the jello more palatable.
Where to eat?
- Sweet Mango Dessert Cafe
- Kowloon Tong Dessert Cafe
- Dessert Republic
- Sweet Indulgence
- [SFBA] Sweethoney Dessert 杏记甜品 (Actually multiple locations)
- Shooting Star Cafe
- [Fremont] GOGO Dessert
Check out all the other topics on the regional Cantonese cuisine