Cover Sha yung, Ringo Chan's favourite Hong Kong pastry (Illustration: Stephen Collins)

The executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Hong Kong loves all things sweet, but there's one pastry that takes him right back to his childhood

As part of our series celebrating the vibrancy and community within Hong Kong’s dining scene, we spoke to several of the industry’s leading lights about why they love the city’s unique food culture. Here, Ringo Chan—the award-winning executive pastry chef at Four Seasons Hong Kong, where he has worked since its launch in 2005 – tells us about the local ingredients he loves using in his desserts and his top spot for snacking on his favourite Hong Kong pastry.

See also: Four Seasons Hong Kong Debuts New E-Shop For Cakes And Sweet Pastries

Tell us about some of your favourite Hong Kong food memories…

As a pastry chef, it’s a local pastry called sha yung (沙翁) that is engraved in my childhood memories! These traditional sugar egg puffs are like a Hong Kong-style, deep-fried version of a beignet or pâte à choux, but they’re made from baking powder and baking soda—giving them a lighter, fluffier texture that is moist inside, alongside a more eggy flavour.

Every time I pass by Jordan, it always transports me back in time to when my mom would take me on a sha yung expedition. I had my first and best sha yung from a shop there; unfortunately, it closed down many years ago, but it was super delicious, and I can still remember it to this day.

Last time I visited Tai O for a day trip with my family, I found some good sha yung at a shop there called Tai O Bakery; because the bakery is very popular, they’re always churning out freshly made, still warm sha yung. I like how generous they are with the amount of sugar sprinkled on top, which makes it extra tasty.

See also: What To Eat, Drink And Do In Tai O

What are some of your favourite local ingredients to use?

I love Hong Kong milk tea and chrysanthemum from Hangzhou—both of which I have used to create desserts at Four Seasons.

I use Hong Kong milk tea as the main ingredient for a dessert served in The Lounge—Hong Kong milk tea ice cream, accompanied with a traditional candy and coconut wrap known as “springfield pizza” (糖蔥餅) and toasted coconut flakes. This dessert is also served with my childhood favourite, a petit sha yung!

Meanwhile, my dessert of smooth chrysanthemum and lemon crème with malt choux is served in Lung King Heen; it’s a collaboration of Western techniques and Chinese ingredients. I created a lemon-shaped dessert with four layers of textures and flavours; when you cut the dessert open, the outer layer is chrysanthemum crèmeux, the second layer is citrus jelly, the third is lemon curd, and the final bottom layer is crispy chocolate to add texture. Chrysanthemum has a host of health benefits, and the refreshing lemon flavour is truly incredible after a hearty meal.

If you could only visit one restaurant in Hong Kong again, what would it be – and how does it sum up what you love about the city’s food scene?

I think Tung Po in North Point wet market would be my pick, as it is an iconic representation of Hong Kong’s local dai pai dong food culture. Not only are their Cantonese dishes delicious, but you can also find the wildest dining experience at Tung Po; the focus is always on their owner Robby Cheung’s authentic personality and hospitality!

Ringo’s Picks:

  • Tai O Bakery, 66 Kat Hing Street, Tai O, Hong Kong, +852 2985 8621
  • Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 3196 8888
  • Tung Po, 2/F, Java Road Municipal Services Building, 99 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong, +852 2880 5224