Top 5 Milkshakes
The Americana appeal of a good old-fashioned milkshake is hard to deny. Tall, frosted glasses filled to the brim with a cement-thick concoction of ice cream and just the slightest dash of milk, through which a thick plastic straw would just barely sink through, is the stuff of memories for those of us brought up in North America. In Hong Kong, the health-conscious brigade on one end, and an unhealthy obsession with drinks like bubble tea on the other has meant that milkshakes are not actually all that common an indulgence around town. But look hard and you’ll find them. To celebrate the end of our January detox period, we’re bringing you our list of five places to drink to your heart’s content. Okay, we’ll admit that we’ve added a healthy one to the roster, too.
This Canadian newcomer in Sheung Wan peddles Toronto-style hotdogs, poutine, and a ragtag mix of classic and bizarre milkshakes. Yes, you’ll find the regular old Joe options, such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but cast your eyes further down the menu. Earl grey is one of our favourites, as the vanilla ice cream is infused with a deeply concentrated brew, and is speckled throughout with flecks of tea leaves. On the crazier end of the spectrum is their notorious chocolate bacon milkshake – a love-it-or-hate-it creation – that Yonge Piggies co-creator Andrew Cheung says was inspired by the wave of bacon-related products over the last year (think: bacon candy, bacon jam, chocolate-covered bacon). The team grill local streaky bacon, chop up the pieces, then render it again in a hot oven to make their own crispy bacon bits. The salty nuggets are then blended with chocolate ice cream and a splash of milk (the ratio at Yonge Piggies is about ¼ milk to ¾ ice cream), topped with whipped cream and a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup. And garnished with more bacon bits, naturally. The salty-sweet combination works for us, though we can’t imagine drinking an entire one on its own – for that, the earl grey or marshmallow version (which feels like a glossier vanilla milkshake) takes the cake.
1 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan; +852 2104-7218
Pretty St Betty in IFC might be one of the last places you’d expect to find a guilty pleasure like Oreo or peanut butter milkshakes, but there you have it. Elegantly served in tall, tapered glasses, the milkshakes here are the stuff of childhood dreams. All the ice creams featured in the drinks (there are three flavours currently) are made in-house, and whizzed up fresh to order. The Oreo creation of three whole cookies blended with a whopping five scoops of ice cream and 200ml of milk is possibly one of the naughtiest milkshakes on the menu; at least the chunky peanut butter version has half of a fresh banana to add some virtue.
Shop 2075, IFC Mall, 8 Finance Street, Central; +852 2979 2100
A burger and a shake is a timeless combination, but BLT Burger doesn’t like to play it too close to the ground. Apart from their unusual burger toppings, we commend the place for their grown-ups-only spiked milkshakes, which take the edge off the cloying sweetness of most ice cream concoctions. Liqueurs that match well with milky bases, such as Kahlua, vanilla vodka and rum are added liberally into their mixes, giving each drink a blast of alcoholic heat that contrasts against the cold, smooth shake. Our favourite is the cheekily named Grandma’s Treat, which combines vanilla ice cream, caramel and splashes of Maker’s Mark bourbon. The whole thing is topped up with sprinkles of crushed graham crackers, which gives the drink an added touch of innocence to counter the booze.
Shop B224A, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay; +852 2506-1500 or Shop 301, Level 3, Ocean Terminal, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2730-2338.
Main Street Deli
Of course, where better to find a classic milkshake than a New York-style deli? At the Langham’s casual-chic Big Apple-themed restaurant, there are six varieties to choose from the milkshake menu to fully complement the range of American classics, from grilled cheese to pastrami sandwiches. All milkshakes are simply made with two ingredients: milk, and ice cream. To go a little bit leftfield, we fancy the green tea version that gives a little bittersweet edge, though those with a sweet tooth should opt for the summery strawberry-flavoured version, which has the necessary hit of sugar with a blast of fruitiness.
Main Street Deli, Langham Hotel, 8 Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; +852 2132-7898
Mana Fast Slow Food
We promised you a healthy version to counteract all the fattening ice cream-loaded drinks, and we deliver two – and one is even vegan-friendly. At Mana, the vegetarian café on Wellington Street, they know a thing or two about packing in the nutrients while not compromising on flavour. Truth be told, we were sceptical at first about the vegan Inka shake, which took on a ghastly dark green-black shade when it came out of the blender. But we took a sip and were impressed by the intense cocoa flavour and silky texture. Comprising fresh banana, unsweetened raw cacao from Indonesia, spirulina from India (the superfood that lends the drink its green hue), coconut oil, almonds, and dates, this shake is full of natural antioxidants, protein, iron and other minerals – a virtuous drink if there ever was one. The Babylon shake is a much more pleasant hue, consisting of a tasty mixture of fresh banana, dried figs, tahini, Bonsoy soy milk, honey and cinnamon and makes a fabulous breakfast shake.
Mana Fast Slow Food, 92 Wellington Street, Central; +852 2851-1611