Taste of Hong Kong: Instagram-famous watermelon cake to tempt taste buds at four-day food extravaganza
Sink your teeth into Black Star Pastry’s famous cake or down a gourmet hot dog with bubbly this March, as a mix of international and local eateries roll out their goods at the Central Harbourfront
Strawberry watermelon cake and gourmet hot dogs paired with champagne will be on the menu when Sydney’s famed cake shop Black Star Pastry and London’s Bubbledogs make their debut at Taste of Hong Kong 2018 at the Central Harbourfront from March 22 to 25.
“We love Hong Kong and we’ve done events in Singapore, Indonesia and Japan where they know us,” says Black Star Pastry director Christopher Thé, speaking about his excitement from Sydney. “We know we have a fan base in Hong Kong, but we want to see it in person.”
Black Star Pastry opened a decade ago in Sydney and has since expanded to four stores selling croissants, brownies, pastries, quiches, sandwiches, and of course its signature strawberry watermelon cake, which Thé says is probably the most Instagrammed cake in the world.
The creation was originally conceived as a wedding cake for Thé’s friend in 2009. It features a slice of watermelon sandwiched between two layers of almond dacquoise with rose-scented cream, and topped off with strawberries, pistachios and dried rose petals.
“Music and art can elicit emotions, and when you cook well, you can send emotions and meaning through your food, and that’s what we do at Black Star Pastry,” says Thé.
Thanks to social media, pictures of the beautiful cake spread like wildfire in early 2012; now, on an average weekend, the shop sells 4,000 slices, while on Christmas Eve it can be twice that amount.
The strawberry watermelon cake is the main focus of what Black Star Pastry will be serving during the four-day event, and Thé says they are concentrating on getting it right.
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“When people taste it, they will see if it’s exactly the same as at the Sydney stores, so it has to be right. It’s hard because the creams are different, as we use Australian cream, but we’ll make sure we have it in Hong Kong. Having enough rosewater is also crucial. It’s a logistical feat,” he says.
Having taken part in many food events before, Thé says they are prepared to deal with unpredictable weather. “It’s the roll of the dice. We did a lantern festival for Lunar New Year, and the first two days were nice and on last day it rained heavily.”
Another visiting vendor is Bubbledogs. The shop in London is the brainchild of Sandia Chang and husband, chef James Knappett. She came up with the idea of opening an unpretentious champagne bar because she loves pairing bubbly with French fries, charcuterie and cheese.
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“Champagne is a wine with a great amount of freshness and acidity. Wines like this usually pair well with rich, salty and oily foods,” Chang says. “When we visit producers at their homes in Champagne, the typical food we are offered during tastings is cheese and charcuterie, as the freshness of the wine helps cut through the richness of the food. For the same reason, caviar is traditionally a good fit for champagne … it’s just that we can’t all afford to have caviar every time we want to drink champagne!”
The restaurant will be serving two hot dogs from Bubbledogs: Bombay Calling Dog, featuring a pork frankfurter, mango chutney, and mint and coriander sauce, and the most popular item on the menu, Mac Daddy Dog, featuring a pork frankfurter with macaroni and cheese (Red Leicester cheese), topped with streaky bacon crumb and crispy onions.
“The name was inspired by [a member of the] popular 1990s hip-hop duo Kriss Kross and their hit song Jump. We can’t wait to see what you all think,” says Chang.
Also on the Taste of Hong Kong menu are togarashi tater tots, featuring fried potato croquettes with Japanese seven-spice seasoning and yuzu mayo, along with a festival exclusive – the Duddelldog. Chang won’t reveal what that is.
She says the team at Bubbledogs is experienced at serving a high volume of customers. “As for the weather, we are from England, so we always have a plan, and are pros at cooking in the rain. We even barbecued in the rain underneath umbrellas once!”
With the high concentration of foodie fans congregated at the Central Harbourfront for four days, both Black Star Pastry and Bubbledogs are using the event as an opportunity to check out the Hong Kong market, and make new friends in the industry.
“Hong Kong has a vibrant food scene and some of the people we see in our shops are from Hong Kong and China,” observes Thé. “Hong Kong has a big eating culture and we would love to open a shop here if everything falls into place.”
Taste of Hong Kong, Central Harbourfront, March 22-25, tickets from HK$120, tasteofhongkong.com