Amazing HK style desserts and drinks
I remember walking through Hong Kong and loving the unique diversity of cultures seen all throughout the city. Although there is a strong European influence there, there is also a strong Asian influence that tends to seamlessly blend in. This creates the overall look and feel of Hong Kong whereas one can find their favorite British Chocolates at a shop that’s also selling Chinese Dumplings. There is a unique mixture of modern and Asian vintage that I tend to miss since I’ve been back in the states.
That said, I was pretty stocked to see this place open up called Sweet Spot in the Doraville area. Sweet Spot opened only about two weeks ago (note that it’s currently Feb 24th). But has been a concept that has been in the workings since the middle of 2007. It took a tad over a year and a half to put all the ideas together and launch this concept. The Menu is broken up into Milk Teas, fleezys (similar to milkshakes), Mocha, waffle dessert bowls, and tong sui (a type of dessert soup).
A Hong Kong Feel
When you walk in you are hit with a mixture of the modern/vintage feel that you would see in HK. There are neon-lit sweet signs hung around the cafe along with unique artwork on the main wall and other unique wall designs. The wall art was done by an artist by the name of __ who was flown in from Hawaii to hand paint a mural that represented different aspects of Hong Kong including Bruce Lee and Ip Man. This painting took __ weeks to finish. Another wall that is located closer to the counter is covered in vintage newspapers from HK. The owner himself when to HK to purchase these newspapers and create this design. Another wall is covered in vintage HK movie posters. I gotta say – its pretty unique how they were successfully able to combine the vintage and modern feel. The tables and chairs are completely modern and have a clean look and feel.
Atmosphere aside, if you going to call yourself a Hong Kong dessert spot there are certain things you should have: namely, Hong Kong Milk Tea. They do in fact have Hong Kong Milk Tea here. There is a huge difference between your Taiwanese style milk tea and the Hong Kong styled milk tea. This difference is usually tasted in the slight bitterness that comes with the Hong Kong style or the sweetness of sweetened condensed milk vs the liquid sugars of Taiwan styled teas.
Hong Kong Style Milk Tea
When I lived in China, there was a big difference between the HK style and the Taiwanese style milk tea. Usually, you learn to love one and hate the other. Read about the difference between Taiwanese and HK style milk tea here. I really loved the strong tea aroma and flavor as well as the level of sweetness that this tea has. Its good to note that the owners take the HK style tea pretty seriously and therefore, do not allow customizations. Typically with the HK style teas, you don’t customize it normally since it’s hard to adjust the sweetness of sweetened condensed milk. Also, the flavor of HK milk tea is pretty distinct and they don’t what to lose the balance of flavor that it currently has.
If you are used to the more mainstream milk teas, the bitterness in this tea may give you the assumption that it’s not sweet enough – though personally, I thought it was pretty balanced.
Many Teas Available
Going into a traditional loved tea made modern. You can also get oolong and jasmine teas here – customized to your liking. The oolong tea was very strong due to the fact that they brew many types of oolong together to make the base of this tea. You can order it as a float (with ice cream on the top), with toppings, with a cheese top, or drink it sugarless (traditional style). This is a great way of taking a traditional item and modernizing it so that this generation can still enjoy it.
Jenny – its really refreshing you can taste the oolong even though its regular sweet (100% sugar). A lot of places lack the tea flavor even when it’s regular sweet.
When putting together the Jasmine tea, many types of Jasmine tea was tried from different regions of China. Finally, the best teas were combined together to create their own version that caters to multiple tastes. That said, rather you like the Jasmine tea from the North or the South, you will most likely find favor with this tea. At first, I thought a tea float was probably not the best idea. Upon trying this drink – I realized they were on to something. The sweetness from the ice cream balanced out the bitterness of the tea. In my opinion, I would prefer this over the milk top.
Fruit Tea (Boba Style)
Lastly, I tried the fruit tea. One thing that is unique about the fruit tea here is that the fruit inside the tea are chopped up to be the size of the boba that you would get in boba teas. I know in China, I got a bit frustrated when my straw would get stuck in a chunk of fruit so I loved this idea. It’s like a fruit boba. The tea base used in this tea is made from a unique mixture of many types of teas so it’s not something I can put my finger on. I liked the sweetness of it and found it pretty refreshing.
Fleecy – The HK Milkshake
Speaking of refreshing, there is another type of drink offered here called fleecy which is a Sweet Spot version of a milkshake. The fleecys served here normally are a mixture of evaporated milk and ice blended together and mixed with a base which is typically sweet red bean. Sweet red bean was my first try here and it is known to be the #1 choice here and in many other places as its one of China and HKs favorite desserts. I gotta be honest – this was the last thing I would think to try in a dessert drink but somehow the sweet red beans did not taste bad at all. Typically when cooked beans hit a cold surface, they tend to turn extremely hard. This is an issue I see happening a lot in other bean desserts. This, however, did not have that problem. the beans were blended well to the point where they stayed soft and sweet throughout the whole process of drinking it.
There was another one that may or may not still be on the menu called the Black Sesame Fleecy. There was another type of black sesame drink at a neighboring bubble tea house that had the texture of sand. This is because when you’re making a drink out of something at gritty at sesame seeds, you need to make sure you’re blending it for quite some time. This is the only way to destroy the sandy texture. Luckily, Sweet Spot knew this and made a drink that was not gritty at all. You are getting a punch in the face of sesame as its a really strong flavor but along with the cream based drink and the added ice cream- this became one of my favorite drinks quite honestly.
There are many other fleecys to choose from such as the taro and matcha – which everyone loves and knows. It is also good to note that the fleecys here are made from lactose-free milk. So if you have a lactose issue, you can always ask for them not to include the scoop of ice cream and the drink won’t bother your stomach.
Mochi Worth Trying
Sweet spot has 9 selections of Mochis. I had the chance to sample the vanilla chip, passion fruit, mango, and red bean Mochis. The flavor of the Mochis here was very strong, but not too overpowering and the Mochi surrounding the ice cream was very soft and chewy. My favorite one would have to be the mango due to how true it stays to the taste of actual mangos. This is not to downplay the other flavors, as they also were true to their respective flavorings, but none stood out to me as much as the mango one did. There are rarely any dessert eateries that feature Mochi, so not only is their produce exclusive, but it is of higher quality than other places that offer much. The owners had gone through ten different suppliers to ensure this quality. Not only that, but the back of their shop has many electronics that are solely present for the sake of Mochi.
Ice Cream Bowls
Ice cream bowls here have a nice variety with customization. The ice cream bowl combines the familiar Hong Kong street food with American desserts – the American style ice cream with the Hong Kong waffle. Another thing is that it’s not remade and the good thing about the ice cream bowl is that it gives you the option to mix everything together. The ingredients and the popular add-on, which is the bubble waffle, are made freshly-cut and prepared and made fresh every morning. If you walk around HK at night you will see many stands on the side of the street selling the bubble waffles. This is a very popular snack that I’ve missed personally and I was really happy to see it pop up here at Sweet Spot.
POPS MADE IN HOUSE
If you are a lover of pops such as the famous “King of Pops”, you may be able to respect what Sweet Spot has on their menu. All of the ice pops on their menu are made in house. There are two types that they serve: the first is a creamy texture and the other is more of an icy texture. If you want more of a creamy feel, I would recommend the pistachios and cream and well as the black sesame. These are pretty much like a frozen fleecy and you will feel like your not even eating an ice pop. The icy ones that I loved the most would have been the mango and the strawberry lemonade.
Tong Sui (Sweet Water)
Tong Sui is a popular type of dessert that is usually served after your meal when eating in China or Hong Kong. It originates as a Cantonese dish and literally means sugar water since its typically a sweet soup. One thing about Tong Sui is that there is no rhyme or reason. You can literally mix anything in a sweet base and call it Tong Sui. Because of this, there are an infinite amount of versions you can get around China and Hong Kong and many places specialize in just Tong Sui.
Altogether, finding this place was a big win on my wide. I have found drinks that do not compare to the other spots thus far such as the HK milk tea and the fleecys. I have become a regular here and always love to hang out in this area when I’m in Doraville.