Kwan Kee snack store has been selling sweets on a busy corner of Fuk Wah street, in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po district, Kowloon, since the 1960s. Owner Fu Wing-Cheung named the shop after his father, Fu Kwan, who sold sweets at a street stall when Fu was a child. The shop is known for sweet snacks: rice-flour pudding, steamed egg cake and black sesame cake, all cooked to his father’s recipes. Crowds gather for takeaway bags until the 400 puddings Kwan Kee makes each day are sold out.
Mr Fu says his signature snacks are put chai ko – round puddings made of rice flour, brown sugar and red beans, steamed in little ceramic bowls.
“Unlike many other shops, we grind our rice every day instead of buying pre-made rice flour,” says Fu. “We also don’t use any raising agents,” he adds, pointing to a big tray of steamed white sugar egg cake. “It rises from the natural fermentation of the flour.”
This is not fast food. The rice is ground and made into a milk, then poured over bowls filled with beans and steamed for six hours. “We start the process at 2am every day,” says Fu.
These traditional methods have earned the shop a reputation for authentic Hong Kong snacks. Its fans are not just locals, either: Kwan Kee was awarded a Michelin street-food recommendation in both 2016 and 2017. Our guide Michael reminds us that just because these puddings are sweet, it doesn’t mean they’re desserts. “These are just snacks – eaten any time of day,” he says. Cake as a snack? That’s a culture worth getting behind.
• 115-117 Fuk Wa Street
Eloise Basuki and Leigh Griffiths tell stories from their Asian travels at strangertalk.co