Monday, 13 December 2010

Candy Cafe (without the accented "e" because it's a Chinese place)

I've been to Candy Cafe in Chinatown twice now and I've concluded that it's definitely a place I want to go again and again!

Okay, so it wasn't great the first time we went. First off, the place is really quite small,  and in the evenings it gets seriously busy. If you have to queue it doesn't take that long, but it also means that you can't hang around for long. The cramped wooden booths are not a super comfy place to sit, but there is a TV playing asian stuff and the atmosphere is acceptable. The guy in charge is very friendly, with a british-born-chinese accent, but the other waitresses can be a bit rude and rushed. But hey, it's Chinatown and I don't really care for amazing service here. People here feel like family; they feed my body AND soul for a low price, and I certainly don't expect them to bow at my feet.

We had the dry dumplings, which are basically glutinous rice balls coated in crushed peanut, coconut and sugar. 

I used to have these as a special treat during Chinese New Year. Now I haven't been at home for CNY for 6 years now so I was really looking forward to these! They were a slight let down though, as they were a bit too hard and not so chewy; perhaps they had been cooked well in advance, which is understandable. It would be a bit impractical to make them fresh when they have to maintain such a high turnover rate.

We also had pearl sago in sweet taro soup, which was good, but to be honest it's not a favourite of mine!

The second time we went was around lunchtime and although it was a saturday, there were much fewer people and the place felt more relaxed. I caved in and ordered a bubble tea - they have an exhaustive list of flavours but I like to opt for the classic version. I try to refrain from buying them in London, cause £3.50?? That's just ridiculous! 

Nevertheless, this was surprisingly smooth. I couldn't compare to other versions in Chinatown though, like the one from HK Diner, because I simply haven't had one in so long.

Pomelo mango - pearl sago in a cold mango soup, with bits of pomelo that add a citrus note. This reminded me of the amazing mango desserts at Hui Lau Shan, a chain dessert shop in Hong Kong. Perfect on a hot summer's day but good in the winter too!

Strawberry Crêpe: woooop this was great! A proper over-the-top Hong Kong style crêpe, dressed lovingly with strawberries, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and strawberry sauce.

We also ordered the black sesame dumplings (glutinous rice balls) in syrup, served hot. These were a childhood favourite of mine and are hard to mess up, really. Yum.

I would definitely recommend going during the day and not after dinner, as you feel like you can actually chill for a bit with friends.

Candy Cafe is a unique place in Chinatown that serves many the beloved desserts of my generation, mixing the old and the new. I often crave the items on their menu and previously thought that I wouldn't be able to have them until I got back to Hong Kong. Seriously, my only regret is discovering this place so late! I have actually walked by it so many times but never noticed the small sign on the street. All that time I could have spent expanding my waistline... sigh.

Candy Cafe
3 Macclesfield St

London W1D 6AU


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