Checking out “Aunty Sweet” 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau, where locals go for dessert

By , August 8, 2010 9:48 pm

Tin Hau is less commercial than Causeway Bay
After Mak’s Noodles, I went to meet up with two old friends, Janet and Walter, whom I had not seen in more than four years. When they heard I had already had dim sum, grilled lamb rib, curry beef brisket, and wantan noodles…the only sane option left was dessert! At first, we headed to Times Square at Causeway Bay, but later Janet thought Tin Hau would be a better choice – it’s where the locals go, and the dessert shops there are less commercialised.

"Aunty Sweet" 甜姨姨 at Tin Hau
We came to Aunty Sweet or 甜姨姨. It’s a fairly well-known shop, but despite its success, it’s stayed as a single outlet, not a chain. The owner Candy used to work at TVB, so occasionally you’ll catch some TV celebrities eating here too.

Durian beancurd
Their signature special for the month was “Durian beancurd” (HK$28) – oh yes, oddly you’ll find quite a few durian desserts in Hong Kong. Gorgeous creamy durian pulp atop refreshingly cold and smooth durian-flavoured beancurd. Even though durians are generally better in Singapore, this dessert was actually really good.

Mango Orchestra - ice cream, puree, fresh mango cubes, dried mango
The other very beloved fruit for dessert in Hong Kong is mango. Hui Lao Shan is probably the name most people (especially tourists) flock to, but someone told me locals prefer other brands.

This “Mango Orchestra” (also about HK$28) features mango ice cream, mango puree, fresh mango cubes and dried mango atop shaved ice. Extremely decadent with nothing to cut through the mango overload, but if you love mango, this will be the bomb!

Lychee pomelo shaved ice
Walt took a Lychee Pomelo with nata de coco on shaved ice. It looked luscious.

Hawthorn shaved ice drink
There are also some unusual drinks here, like the “Hawthorn” ice blended drink. It tastes like hawthorn-spiked lemonade. Tangy for the most part, with the sweetness coming from the red bits.

Look for the street with the flyover
The place is quite easy to find. From the main road, look for intersecting street that has the flyover above it (you can see it in the first photo too). Turn in there, walk a little bit and you’ll see Aunty Sweet next to Kin’s Kitchen.

For you durian lovers, check out Cha Xiu Bao’s photos of Aunty Sweet’s durian desserts – including the “Ultimate” (3rd photo) of durian sorbet, durian ice cream, durian puree, durian wafer and dried durian.

Here’s a list of other summer desserts in BC Magazine – Aunty Sweet’s included too.

AUNTY SWEET 甜姨姨 私房甜品
G/F, 13 Tsing Fung Street,
Tin Hau, Hong Kong.
Tel: +852 2508 6962

The delectable world of Margaret Xu

By , August 8, 2010 8:30 am

I guess what must have been the highlight of the trip out of the four days of fun and adventure the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) had lined up must have been the experience at Yin Yang, which I have made a brief mention of in a previous post and which deserves a little more attention.

Yin Yang is a three table private kitchen run by celebrity chef Margaret Xu.

The setting for Yin Yang, a three table private kitchen, is a delightful four storey shop house of 1930s vintage in the Wan Chai district, which has been well restored and beautifully decorated shop house. Entering the shop house, one is greeted by reminders of a simple and bygone era: a tiffin carrier, an old refrigerator, an old style thermos flask … that in the soft light that filters through the old style frosted windows and grills, provides the ideal setting for what Xu attempts to create in her kitchen. It is in creating what is a fusion of the old cuisines of Hong Kong, which Xu goes back to basics.

The setting for Yin Yang is a four storey beautifully restored 1930s shop house in Wan Chai. A model of which is seen here.

The old style decor of the restored shop house provides an excellent setting for what follows up the staircase to the third floor where the dining room is.

The old world charm of Yin Yang is seen in the many simple objects that Xu decorates the interior of the restored building with.

An old styled thermos flask ...

An old tiffin carrier.

Old style windows and grills through which soft light filters through ... creating an ambiance which adds to the flavours of Xu’s creations.

Grills that are perhaps a reflection of the food that Margaret Xu prepares ... a fusion of old styles ...

Another delightful old style window and grill ...

An old refrigerator.

It is perhaps the simple and traditional ways that Xu uses to good effect that defines what Yin Yang is. Old and simple preparation and cooking methods are used by Xu, simple perhaps not by the effort put into the preparation, but by the means in which preparation is done, as it was in the good old ways of food preparation. Yin Yang’s signature dish, “Yellow Earth” chicken is roasted slowly in a clay oven that Xu designed herself, fashioned out of two upturned terracotta pots. The chicken we had, moist and full of flavour from the slow roasting, with a beautifully browned crispy skin, was not craved with a knife, but torn and shredded on the spot and served. The menu was selected by Xu herself, who attempts to surprise her guests with her charming creations as was seen in the other dishes that were served, each equally delightful and full of flavour. The roasted pork leg which followed a shellfish dish also deserves mention, the rich flavours of roasted pork with a crackling crispy skin, was made all the more flavourful with a lychee sauce that had the sweetness of fresh lychees in it. Throughout the entire meal, we were certainly treated to food that was prepared with the dedication and care of a chef who takes great pride and delight in the way she cooks.

The specially designed oven that the "Yellow Earth" chicken is roasted in.

At Yin Yang, knives are not used to carve meat. Meat is torn and shredded in the traditonal way.


The menu that Margaret Xu selected for us.

For all that, I was certainlty surprised to learn that Ms. Xu wasn’t always a chef, or even been formally trained as one: Xu had until a few years back, run her own advertising agency. With a lot of imagination and schooled by her Hakka neighbour, and the mainly Hakka rural villages she frequented, Xu learnt how to prepare traditional food in the traditional way. I guess what defines her and how she cooks is summed up in an article about her in Theme, in which we are told that Xu “grew up loving the Chinese wet market behind her childhood home”, and “instead of lunch money, her parents gave her money to go shopping to cook for herself when they were away”. These days it is not so much the market where Xu hand picks her ingredients from. The vegetables that she uses are 100% organic and come from her very own organic farm.

And there was dessert of course!

Was this Darren wanting seconds?

Beer accompanied the meal ...

and soft drinks ...

After the wonderful meal, there was still time for Xu to share a treat to a few of us who opted to stay behind … how to make a simple green chilli sauce. The sauce was made from a generous helping of fresh green chillies, hand picked from Xu’s organic farm of course, together with fresh ginger and spring onions, which were washed and duly chopped up with some of Darren’s help. The vegetables were then fried in a wok with a generous amount of vegetable oil until they were soft. Salt was added and mixed in, before the vegetables were removed and then transferred into a blender. The mixture was then blended and … voilà! There we had it … a spicy tangy tasting pesto like paste, which our food blogger Catherine of Camemberu tells us goes very well which Chicken Rice … and perhaps as a dip. The warm mixture was then put into little jars which each of us were given a piece to bring home with us.

The main ingredients of the green chilli sauce: Green Chillies, Spring Onions and Fresh Ginger - all from Xu' organic farm.

Preparation of the green chilli sauce includes chopping the spring onions, ginger and chillies.

Darren had a hand in the sauce preparation.

The wok is heated up.

Vegetable oil is added ...

Level of oil in the wok.

Is the oil hot enough?

The ingredients are added and fried.

Salt is added.

Once the vegetables have softened and before they turned yellow they are removed from the wok.

and blended into a puree ...

and there we have it ... a tasty spicily tangy pesto like paste which goes well as a dip ...

... which we each had a jar of to take home with us.

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