HONG KONG DESSERTS HIT DULUTH
Being in America for the past year and a half, I almost forgot what it was like to be walking through the streets of Hong Kong and trying many different street foods such as the bubble waffles or Tong Sui dishes until I began to see different spots open up in the Doraville area such as Sweet Spot which really gave me hope of these types of foods coming to the Georgia food scene. That said, I was still a bit bummed out that the only Hong Kong snack spot I knew of was not close by until I ran into Sweet Sesame.
Funny enough, the owners of sweet sesame, Sindy, Johnny, and William, were also talking about foods they missed from Hong Kong. This conversation began to take wings of its own as they sought to open a restaurant providing the same dishes that they missed. This ended up becoming the start of the Sweet Sesame concept where traditional Hong Kong-style desserts and snacks are now offered in the Duluth area.
Sweet Sesame is a unique concept that combines traditional Hong Kong-style desserts and waffles with a modern twist. The modern twist is that you can also come here to try the growing “stir-fried ice cream” concept or what is better called “rolled ice cream”. With the traditional dishes and the modern rolled ice cream concept, you’re getting a mix of new and old when you come here.
HAND ROLLED ICE CREAM
There are many different kinds of rolled ice cream to choose from at Sweet Sesame and you get an infinite amount of choices by choosing what ingredients are mixed into the ice cream. This is the unique thing about rolled ice cream, you get a cool way of adding ingredients of your choice blended in with your favorite ice cream. There are pre-created choices if you’re like me and can’t stand to make hard decisions.
Black Sesame Ice Cream
One of the first ones I tried and loved was a hand-rolled dish with black sesame ice cream. If you want to see the magic in motion, you can watch the Youtube break down here. The cafe name is Sweet Sesame due to the use of black sesame in many of its dishes served here including the ice cream. Black sesame is considered one of the healthiest types of sesame available and frankly, it’s one of my favorite flavors for ice cream. This dish includes black sesame rolled ice cream, strawberries, lychee, and whipped cream topped with fruity pebbles (yes they have fruity pebbles). One thing that is unique about the ice cream was that they were able to fold in graham crackers. This was a dessert I couldn’t stop eating. If you’re going to try something for the first time here, go with this one!
This was a unique dessert that is made on spot. Instead of using a strawberry cheesecake ice cream, they use a vanilla ice cream and fold in the cheesecake bits with fresh strawberries. My choice was topped with mango, strawberries and fruit loops. Each ice cream dish gets three choices of toppings so you can be as creative with that as you want.
Hong Kong Style Waffles
I remember walking the streets of Hong Kong and seeing many setups on the corners selling these bubble waffles. At first, I didn’t know the big deal about eating waffles for a mid-night snack but in Asia, waffles are not something you cover in syrup with eggs. It’s more of snack food that can be eaten at any time. Here at Sweet Sesame, you can get your made with chocolate, matcha, black sesame or an original. I have been lucky enough to try all of them and of course, black sesame is my favorite.
Add a Waffle to Any Ice Cream Choice
One cool thing about the waffles at Sweet Sesame is that you can add them to an ice cream choice for a unique Asian styled dessert. This would be a mixture of vanilla ice cream with passion fruit pearls, strawberries, and chocolate syrup. These remind me of Korean dessert waffles like the ones you can see at Arte 3. It’s also good to note that the ice cream portion you get here will be much larger than the typical cafe so doing the wrapping approach wouldn’t be possible.
Mochi Made by Hand
Mango and Red Bean Macha Mochi by Hand
Something else that is also made from scratch is the mochi. Most places buy this and bring it in, but here at Sweet Sesame, they are all made from scratch. In southern Hong Kong, the co-owner Sindy learned this skill and have introduced this concept here in Duluth. These mochis are not your typical ice cream mochi but are made using cream and natural ingredients such as mango, red beans or durian. I loved both the red bean and mango flavors. I am not brave enough to try the durian one – but if you are a durian lover, these are made on order so you get a fresh made one every time. There is also ice cream versions if you wish as part of their new menu but these are not hand made. I would rather go with the fresh ones since ice cream mochi is now available everywhere and its something different.
Tong Sui – Hong Kong Styled Soups
Tong Sui is pretty much what it translates to which is “sweet water.” It is any type of dessert styled soup that you can find in Hong Kong and usually consists of a base of beans, coconut milk, or ginger. When Tong Sui first hit Hong Kong, it was mainly served hot. As it grew popularity, it was remolded into a drink that can be served cold as well. One of the most popular Tong Sui dishes in Hong Kong is the Mango Pomelo Sago. You can find this dessert at only a few places in Georgia and Sweet Sesame is one of those stops. Since Hong Kong is a melting pot of cultures, there is no law or guideline to Tong Sui so many restaurants can be creative.
Mango Pomelo Sago
The mango pomelo sago at Sweet Sesame comes in either a cold drink from or a soup form. I have tried both and like the flavors of both versions. One thing that is cool about this dessert is that it is not oversweetened. For someone who loves doughnuts and other desserts, I am sugar sensitive so it’s always good to not have to ask for cafes to go low on the sugar. The flavors here are natural: the soup base is made from cream and mango and is filled with natural pomelo, mango, and sago. Sago (if your wondering) if like mini boba. They are made from the starch of sago palm trees.
BLACK STICKY RICE W/ MANGO
Another distinctive Tong Sui dish I’ve tried at Sweet Sesame is the black sticky rice with mango and coconut. This dish was pretty amazing and very colorful. The black rice is naturally black and a lot healthier for you then the bleached white rice. They slow cook this rice for five hours until it is extremely mushy and serve it on a bed of coconut milk and brown sugar. It is served with white and purple taro and topped with mango. I love desserts that I can eat and not feel guilty about and this is one of those desserts. The black rice is sweetened and tastes great with the coconut base. The taro used are more like dumplings because they are mashed and blended with tapioca flour so it’s more like a sweet dumpling soup.
All in all, I love the concept here and I will return for my black sesame fix. The black sesame ice cream here is creamy and doesn’t have that sandy texture that many other places have when they try to mix sesame with ice cream. I also love the Waffles and Tong Sui here. If you are part of our meetup group, check it out for our next event here coming up (or past).
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