Eating Out: New Favorite Street Food
I’d like to introduce you to your new favorite dessert — eggettes or gai dan zai.
These egg waffles of puffed perfection are one of the most popular street foods in Hong Kong. Imagine a waffle, but instead of the batter being pressed down during baking, it’s puffed up. Eggettes are crisp on the outside, and simultaneously airy and gooey in the center.
Here, look at this Instagram shot from @oddiesfoodies below:
Traditionally, eggettes are made using two iron plates pressed together and cooked over charcoal, so the original version has a slight charred flavor to complement the custardy sweetness. The two metal plates look reminiscent of a western waffle maker, except they’re carved with ovals instead of squares.
Batter is poured on one iron plate, then topped with the other plate. The iron is then held over the charcoal for a matter of minutes, flipped, maybe flipped again, et voila: a beautifully puffed egg waffle awaits.
The eggettes are served after being peeled off the iron plate in one, swift move and placed in a paper cone. You can just dive in and bite the waffle, but it’s fun to pick apart each individual oval and savor the sweet creation.
Travelers searching for the authentic Gai Dan Zai can keep their eyes peeled for street vendors cooking eggettes all over Hong Kong. We spotted one in our Wan Chai neighborhood soon after moving here. Coconuts Hong Kong also recommends visiting Mr. Lei in the fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island for the real deal. Fair warning though, Mr. Lei is a one-man operation so may not be open when you visit.
My first eggette came from a small establishment called Oddies that serves up modern interpretations of the staple street food. Known for serving egg waffles with gelato and soft-serve ice cream, Oddies lets customers run wild with their egg-waffle dreams (evidence courtesy of OddiesFoodies Instagram account below).
Customers can choose from egg waffle flavors ranging from brownie chocolate chip to red velvet, that can be paired with gelato flavors like PEEEECAN (a mix of milk, caramel fudge, butter pecan and oatmeal clusters). Are you hungry yet?
I instantly became obsessed with the idea of cooking these at home. A traditional eggette batter includes evaporated milk and more than one type of flour. Electric eggette machines do exist, as do iron plates that you can heat up over a stove. I'd prefer the latter so I could use it with the imaginary grill I also don't own or have access to at the moment.
Since the street food reminds me of a sweeter and eggier version of David Eyre’s Pancake, which is one of my favorite weekend breakfasts, I would serve them with powdered sugar and jam if I were to make them, just as I do with David Eyre’s pancake. And I’d separate the waffle into individual ovals. I think these things are just begging to be served more like petit fours in the U.S.