Everything You Need To Know About The Hong Kong Egg Tart

Egg Tart
Egg Tart | ©Joey
Sally Gao

The egg tart is a popular pastry sold in Hong Kong’s bakeries and cafes and is beloved by locals for its flaky crust and sweet, eggy filling. First popularized in the 40s and 50s, the history of this local snack reflects Hong Kong’s unique cultural identity as an East-meets-West melting pot.
The exact origins of the egg tart are unclear and there are several theories as to how they came about. Firstly, the egg tart is often said to be a variation of the English custard tart. Indeed, the Cantonese name for the egg tart, daan tat, comes from the Cantonese word for ‘egg’ and the English word for ‘tart’. But custard tarts call for butter and in the early twentieth-century butter was hard to come by in Hong Kong, leading some to speculate that the egg tart was invented when an innovative chef substituted butter for lard, which was less expensive.

One story goes that the egg tart was invented by a restaurant in Guangzhou in 1927. The pastry’s popularity gave rise to a wealth of imitators, eventually traveling south to Hong Kong in the 40s and 50s, along with a wave of immigrants from mainland China.

(Left) chee.hong/Flickr

However, others say the egg tart is strongly influenced by the Portuguese pastry, pastel de nata, which came to Hong Kong via neighboring Macau. While the two pastries are similar, Macau’s egg tarts bear a caramelized top layer, unlike Hong Kong-style tarts, which are glossy and smooth on top.

By the early 40s, egg tarts were frequently eaten during afternoon tea among the city’s fashionable elites. After World War II and the Japanese occupation, Hong Kong’s economy suffered as a result of slowing global trade and the civil war in mainland China. Western dining became unaffordable to most people so to fill the void, the first cha chaan tengs began to emerge, bringing affordable, Western-inspired dishes to the common people. Thus, the egg tart was reinvented as a cheap snack for the masses.

To a local, there’s nothing as tempting and delightful as the sight of a batch of golden-yellow egg tarts fresh from the oven. Bakeries and cafes all over Hong Kong sell the iconic treat to this day.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,656 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

X
close-ad
Edit article