The Kasho Chaya stand at City'super (Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 2888) has one of the best spots in the shop: it's right near the checkout queue, so those waiting in line can't help but go past it and be tempted by the array of traditional Japanese desserts. My favourites are daifuku mochi filled with azuki bean or lotus seed paste and a whole fresh strawberry. They're not always available, though. As we get into the cooler months, they have been making daifuku mochi stuffed with azuki bean (with a plain wrapper), lotus seed (pink wrapper) or purple yam (lavender wrapper) along with a whole chestnut - which is almost as good, if a bit heavier than the strawberry-filled ones. They cost HK$18 each, or HK$16 if you buy two or more.
I was sceptical about the need for the Prima Taste kit for Hainan chicken rice, figuring the dish was easy enough to make. But a Singaporean friend recommended the kit, saying she and her husband use it whenever they want a taste of home. It actually gives the chicken and rice an authentic flavour. The kit sells for HK$49.90 at ParknShop International outlets and contains a pre-mix for cooking the chicken, fragrant oil for the rice and the three sauces traditionally served with chicken rice. All you need to add is a 1.5kg chicken and 500 grams of rice.
The sugar made by La Perruche is my favourite for use in coffee; I especially like the brown sugar lumps (because they're not even close to being regularly-shaped cubes). They are made from sugar cane on Reunion Island, a French territory in the Indian Ocean. The brown version has a richer, more caramel taste than the white sugar lumps (which I crush to sprinkle on chouquettes). A 250-gram box is HK$25.90 at Fresh Mart (Sogo, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2833 8338), which is much cheaper than in other shops.