If you have been following my dayre/instagram, you'll know that I've just gotten back from the land of dim sum, Hong Kong. Actually why is Hong Kong called the land of dim sum? There are just so many good food in Hong Kong, beside dim sum! Look out for my travelogue on that! :D
Meanwhile, as the title of the post suggests, I'm going to be going a review of the 4 biggest brands of Lao Po Bing (or lou po beng) in Hong Kong. Just because it's almost mandatory to carry back at least a box of them when you're in Hong Kong. Well, I got myself an entire luggage of pastries. :P
The 4 biggest brands for Lao Po Bing in Hong Kong that I've picked up are Hang Heung 恆香老餅家, Wing Wah 香港榮華, Kee Wah 奇華, Koi Kei 鉅記
Background: Hang Heung might just be the most famous one that almost everyone will get a box of their lao po bing home on every visit. Why so? Because their lao po bing are always freshly handmade and thus, their pastries have the shortest shelf-life among the rest, only about a week or so.
Packaging: If you were to compare the packaging of Hang Heung to the rest, it is definitely more traditional in a way. A simple paper box to contain a box of 6 pastries (definitely has to be hand-carried!). One of look, it definitely looks very old school! Unlike the other 3 which I feel has been slightly commercialised.
Taste: Looks a side, taste wise I didn't quite like the EXTREMELY strong taste of pork lard in it. :/ So strong that the taste was almost disturbing for me. Also because of the large amount of pork lard used, the pastries are really greasy. On the other hand, I like the winter melon filling from Hang Heung! The filing is really soft, almost pudding like and best of all, not overly sweet. If not for the extensive use of pork lard, Hang Heung would probably be my favourite of the big 4!
2. Kee Wah 奇華
Background: Another favourite is this long history cake shop, currently at it's 3rd generation. Kee Wah has an extensive number of outlets in Hong Kong as well as overseas! Just not in Singapore yet. Soon maybe? Compared to the rest of the cake shop, Kee Wah probably has the least selection of pastries.
Packaging: Very commercialised packaging. But this also means that it makes an ideal gift for family and friends! Shelf-life of Kee Wah's lao po bing is only 2 days longer than Hang Heung.
Taste: The pastry skin is not as flaky as Hang Heung, slightly thicker and harder for Kee Wah. But both of them have really strong pork lard taste which I really dislike, though not as strong as Hang Heung. I guess they must have painted like a layer of pork lard on their pastries before baking or even after baking? Filling wise, Kee Wah's filling has more winter melon bits in it. Thus, making the filling 'crunchier'. Likewise, sweetness level is very well controlled! But again, due to the overly-powering taste of pork lard. Kee Wah is not my favourite either.
3. Koi Kei 鉅記
Background: Technically, Koi Kei is not a cake house from Hong Kong. It originated in Macau, but it does have a number of outlets in Hong Kong now as well. When I was in Macau, almost every other corner I could spot Koi Kei! Really hard to miss! The selection at Koi Kee is really extensive as well, I think it is probably the most extensive one among the 4. But do note that Koi Kei is more famous for their egg rolls, peanut candy and almond cookies (must get them!). Also, have you heard of lao gong bing (husband cake)? Koi Kei has this interesting flavour that is actually a salted version of lao po bing. My family loves it a lot too!
Packaging: Among the 4, I adore the packaging of Koi Kei the most, as well as their service! There are 2 types of Lao Po Bing here in Koi Kei, either handmade or machine-made. Honestly, I've tried both but they don't really make a different in my opinion, but price different is almost 2-fold.
Taste: Koi Kei has always been a personal favourite cake shop because I love their almond cookies and egg rolls! But this is my first time trying their lao po bing. The pastry skin is the flaky type, but not as flaky as Hang Heung. Filling is also very soft and pudding-ish, almost like Hang Heung. Seem like Hang Heung is better than Koi Kei in many ways? But my vote still went to Koi Kei because I don't taste that pork lard taste from them. Because of that I finished the entire box of Koi Kei's lao po bing within a week! :D Would be better if the skin is thinner though. :)
Background: With almost 50 outlets around the island, Wing Wah is another 老字号 in Hong Kong. In fact, there is one just in Hong Kong International Airport! Really convenient if you need to get extra pastries at the eleventh hour! ^^ Also, do note that different outlets of Wing Wah sell different types of pastries! They have some creative ones like green tea lao po bing, black sesame lao po bing and etc.
Packaging: Probably the smallest among the 4. Also means that the pastries is the smallest as well! Likewise to Kee Wah and Koi Kei, the packaging is very commercialised.
Taste: This being placed at the last also means that my personal favourite is Wing Wah's lao po bing. I like that the pastry skin is very thin and soft! Most importantly, the pork lard taste is hidden very well! Next, the filling is soft and has some winter melon bits in it. But strictly speaking, all the 4 cake houses have really good filings! Well, so my ranking factor is definitely on the pastry skin. Hang Heung's skin is too flaky and the smell of pork lard is unacceptable for me. Kee Wah's skin is too thick for my liking and of course the same case as Hang Heung, overwhelming pork lard smell. Koi Kei could have won if not for the slightly thick pastry skin. So IN MY OPINION, Wing Wah has my favourite wifey cake. :D
Well, in case you're interested my parents love the lao po bing from Hang Heung because of the pork lard taste. Hahaha! So it actually depends on how much do you love pork lard because as I mention, the filings are almost equally good. :)