Dan Ta (Egg Tarts 蛋挞)
What is it?
Originally introduced to accompany afternoon tea, dan ta, or egg tarts, are now eaten throughout the day in Hong Kong. Similar to the Portuguese pastel de nata, egg tart is made up of a flaky buttery crust and a deep yellow egg custard filling. Fancier versions can add bird’s nest to give the dessert a twist.
Why is it famous?
Like many famous Hong Kong desserts — almond cookies, egg tarts and mango pudding — it is actually a combination of East and West, developed over generations of colonial rule.
It’s believed that the first egg tart was made in Guangzhou in the 1920s. Taking reference from the recipes of Western fruit tarts, the chefs in Guangzhou turned it into egg tarts by filling the tarts with egg custard instead, which is similar to another famous Chinese dessert of steamed egg custard. Traditionally, egg tarts were made with lard because butter was hard to come by at the time. Over time, though, chefs have shifted to a combination of both lard and butter.
Chris Patten famously used egg tarts as part of his charm offensive during his tenure as the last British governor of the territory. He was photographed tucking into the dessert at a local bakery (see below for its address) in Hong Kong, earning him the endearing monicker “Fat Pang”.
Where to eat it?
Tai Cheong Bakery, opened in 1954, on Lyndhurst Terrace in Hong Kong claims to sell at least 3,000 egg tarts a day. The bakery, also Patten’s personal favourite, specialises in short crust tart shells (instead of flaky puff pastry crust). Address: G/F, 35 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong; Tel: 852-8300-8301; Cheung Hing Coffee Shop, the famous cha chaan teng (a Hong Kong style tea café) where local celebrities are frequently spotted, is famous for egg tarts. Address: G/F, 9-11 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong; Tel: 852-2572 5097.
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