Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sweet Love at Candy's Cafe

Read no further if you are based in Hong Kong and are constantly spoiled by dessert cafés that have swarmed the streets.

Chinatown has been catching up with the rest of the world; the addition of dessert cafes is another step forward. So far I have spotted two; they are small, serve only speciality drinks and desserts, and attract clusters of youngsters around the clock. Candy’s café is hidden on the first floor with modest entrance to the staircase between Leong’s Legend and Rasa Sayang in Chinatown. The brightly lit staircase leads to a small room with non-existent décor; a plasma TV showing Cantopop music videos and crowded wooden tables. For the three or four times I visited, I haven’t had the misfortune of waiting for a table on the stairs, but I wouldn’t be surprised given it’s been full-house each time.

Candy’s café offers a seemingly confusing menu that consists of all kinds of bubble tea combos, HK style puddings and light bites. If we strip off the pretty pictures, it basically says free-style mix and match, though the recommended options are safer.

Mango Lover

The new menu has incorporated some sassy names for the desserts. The lover is mango ice cream on a bed of shaved ice, bathed in mango juice and tapioca with fresh mango chunks and mini glutinous balls. Just reading what’s in the glass, you know it could hardly go wrong. The only snag would be the mango chunks not being the usual ones from Philippines, but hey, it’s fresh fruit.

Black Love
This translates to grass jelly and aloe vera jelly with shaved ice and tapioca topped with lycee. The springy jelly glass is one for the weight watchers.

Melon & Sago in cold Coconut Milk
Chosen from one of the mix & match sections: sago coconut as base and melon balls for the topping. Fragrant and fresh.

Hot Sago Coconut Milk with Glutinous balls (Black Sesame filling)
You can tell Im a tapioca pearl fan I won’t exaggerate; the glutinous balls are probably frozen ready-made stuff, the skin was not particularly thin or bouncy and the sesame filling could be stronger. But I am just grateful to have found this kind of sweets, and while it wasnt hair-standingly amazing, it benchmarked.

The choices for snacks are limited. I tried the Kaya toasts with a Malted Soya Drink as a ‘meal deal’, and was pleasantly surprised to be asked if I wanted brown or white bread. Kaya is a traditional Malaysian coconut, eggy, sickly sweet jam with rapidly dwindling popularity due to a health conscious bunch calculating the grams of fat and calories per bite. As if I care. The toasts were scrumptious with a generous slab of kaya. May I suggest stocking a better quality loaf, though?

Having drunk more bubble tea than my blood can carry in Taipei and Hong Kong, I can’t say the bubble tea here is up to scratch. The tea itself was weak and tapioca pearls have been over-soaked, hence lost its bounce. But there are 30+ drinks to choose from.

The owner is trilingual, friendly and has a great sense of humour. I overheard him once explaining some Chinese wisdom to a foreign couple (are we allowed to address English people as ‘foreigners’ in this case?) the intricate balance of ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ of foods and why they weren’t serving grass jelly in deep winter.

Candy’s Café shouts youth, happiness and energy. It is still a long way from the dessert cafés in Asian cities, but for the homesick students and a place to hang out after a rushed meal in Chinatown, it will do.

1/F, 3 Macclesfield Street,
Chinatown,
London,
W1D 6AU

Tel: 0207 434 4581


You may also like: Prufrock Coffee

Candy Café  on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

  1. Golden gate dessert house on shaftsbury avenue does better desserts though with less choice than candy cafe. I was so excited about candy cafe when I first heard, and have been 4-5 times, each time with dissapointment. For the best bubble tea drinks, I prefer HK de Cafe & Jen cafe. Have you tried any of those places? What do u think?

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  2. I must agree with you on HK de Cafe, the tea itself was spot on, but extremely stingy on the tapioca pearls... we counted 12 last time! On the subject of Bubble Tea, did you check out Bubbleology next to Spuntino? Avoid at all cost. It's disgusting.

    Like I said, the desserts are generic stuff in Candy's Cafe, but I'm just glad to be offered such choice. It's never ideal to find blocks of ice in the ice cream, or self-service sweetening of cold drinks, but it's the closest to home I can find.

    I've walked pass Golden Gate dessert, I guess I was just put off by the multi-colour cakes from the 80s!:P

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  3. Oh really? I've never counted the pearls! Not yet, I've heard of it, so I was going to check it out, but maybe I won't now!
    If you fancy dessert next time, maybe you can give golden gate dessert a try, the mango ice cream cake was pretty good, and all their tong yuens taste fresh rather than frozen =D
    London needs more dessert houses!

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