Egg waffles are this summer's biggest hit
This Hong Kong export has gone from a simple childhood treat into an international Instagram trend. Here's where to get it in T.O.
Mango and black sesame seed egg waffle from Sugar Marmalade
Hong Kong waffles, egg puffs, eggettes, egglettes, puffles or, as they’re called in their native Cantonese, gai daan jai (which translates into “little chicken eggs”)–– whatever you want to call them, these honeycomb-shaped waffles have transformed from a simple childhood treat into a globally ubiquitous and incredibly photogenic ice cream hybrid. Rooted in Hong Kong’s rich street food scene, eggettes are made with a simple batter of egg, flour, sugar and evaporated milk, historically fired over a charcoal grill. The prototypical Toronto eggette is served hot and unadorned from a stand at the entrance of the Chinatown Centre or in the Heritage Town section of Pacific Mall. Cooled to crisp perfection while still retaining a warm, soft interior, the folded waffle is slipped into a paper bag and torn off one sphere at a time, making it the perfect walk-and-shop snack. However, new generations of crafty bakers have revamped the concept, adding sweet and savoury toppings (think ube-flavoured ice cream or, previously unthinkable, mac ’n’ cheese) and integrating flavours like pandan, red bean and even Chinese sausage into the batter.
For many Chinese people who grew up in Toronto, the warm aroma of eggettes filling the Dragon City Mall vestibule acts as a kind of Proustian madeleine, catapulting us back to our childhoods. Those waffle stands are still open for that hit of nostalgia, but a cosy new sit-down option can be found at One Pear Cafe. The retro–Hong Kong theme is immediately apparent in the vintage film posters plastered on the wall, as well as in the menu, chock full of beloved Hong Kong street snacks and bevvies, including curry fish balls, pineapple buns and silk stocking tea. Their waffles are freshly made to order (unlike at the mall stands, which leave theirs sitting out for the next customer), and are light, almost hollow, with a thin and crispy exterior.
One Pear Cafe, 201 Dundas St. W, 647-926-9918.
Dessert culture in Hong Kong and China, where small cafés churn out a dizzying procession of matcha sundaes piled high with ice cream, whipped cream and red bean topping; bowls of sesame seed dumplings floating in a spicy ginger broth; and sago with seasonal fruits and balls of mochi, has extended into Toronto.
Sugar Marmalade, with locations across the GTA, offers pages upon pages of exquisitely crafted Asian desserts, both traditional and modern. Communally enjoyable, their egg waffles are doughy enough to support a scoop of black sesame seed ice cream, chunks of mango and whipped cream, and are served with a drizzle of condensed milk and a cookie roll for good measure.
The mad scientist
The modern version of the conical eggette waffle is as a vehicle for an artful twist of ice cream. This Instagrammable iteration is widely credited to Hong Kong gelato shop Oddies Foodies, which made its first hybrid treat in 2014. Since then, the form has taken off across the world, with new and ever more inventive combinations created daily.
Nestled in a discreet corner of a mall food court in Markham, Wooffles & Cream is one such purveyor, with eggette batters incorporated with cookies and cream, crushed peanuts and even savoury Chinese sausage and seaweed. The soft-serve flavours rotate weekly: some weeks, it’s a twist of matcha and vanilla; other days it’s milk tea. Always, however, it’s a surprise.
Wooffles & Cream, 8361 Kennedy Rd., #81, 647-281-0487.