Tatler’s Guide To Hong Kong’s Best Apple Pies
After feasting on an abundance of colourful fruit desserts during the spring and summer, we're ready for autumn. It's when the harvest of apples are at their best and, apart from eating them fresh, there is no better way to enjoy them than in a pie and served as dessert. And with American Thanksgiving coming up at the end of November, our thoughts immediately turn to apple pie. Apple pies are a real classic, though often overlooked for its simplicity and often bastardised—we’re talking about apple-flavoured pop-tarts, pre-packaged frozen pies, or fast food ‘apple pies’ (which are, in fact, deep-fried turnovers. The true apple pie should have a bottom crust to hold the filling and a top crust, or a lattice-top made of crisscrossing pastry strips). The perfect apple filling should be sweet with a touch of tartness and have the consistency of a thick fruit compote. Spices are optional, but a pinch of cinnamon can often give apples a lift with a sweeter finish.
While there has always been a strong fan base for basic breads and pastries, pies in general, particularly fruit pies, haven’t been popularised in the way that savoury quiches and sweet fruit tarts have. In honour of the great versatile fruit dessert, here are our picks for Hong Kong’s best apple pies.
Butter Cake Shop
What: Created by Karys Logue, executive pastry chef at Black Sheep Restaurants, the classic American apple pie sold by Butter Cake Shop is beautifully crafted with a perfect lattice top. The crust is buttery and rich, with a filling made with smaller Gala apples. The fruits are peeled and pre-cooked slightly with brown sugar, lemon juice and a pinch of cinnamon. The filling melts into a hearty stew of apples underneath a golden crust. Extra salted caramel is piped through the lattice top into the pie for a richer finish.
Price: The nine-inch pie is priced at HK$388 each.
Where: All pie orders can be placed on Black Sheep Restaurants Go app.
Patisserie At Hyatt Regency Sha Tin
What: This special pie is part of Hyatt Regency Sha Tin’s celebration of local produce. One of the best-selling signature items on the hotel patisserie’s menu, the Sha Tin apple pie is a double-crusted pie generously filled with green and red apples. The local connection comes from the addition of pure local honey sourced from Wing Wo Apiary. The honey gives the pie a lighter, rounder finish, and the apple filling has just the right sweet-tart balance while the pastry crust remains short and mildly crumbly.
Price: The Sha Tin apple pie is priced at HK$270 each, available at Patisserie or through the hotel’s online boutique.
Where: Patisserie, G/F, Hyatt Regency Sha Tin, 18 Chak Cheung Street, Sha Tin, New Territories; +852 3723 7988
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Wah Fai Restaurant And Cake Shop
What: This local cha chaan teng in Tai Po has been known for baked items since it opened in 1981. Unlike traditional apple pies where the apple filling remains hearty, Wah Fai’s version is slightly different, with apples pre-cooked into a thick pulp. After adding sugar and a handful of raisins, the filling is poured into a shallow pie plate and topped with a buttery shortcrust dough and baked until golden brown. Wah Fai’s apple pies are available in individual sizes as well as in large sized (eight-inch) for sharing. Guests can also dine-in at the restaurant, enjoying a slice of warm apple pie accompanied by the restaurant’s popular hot milk tea.
Where: Wah Fai Restaurant and Cake Shop; G/F, 13 Heung Sze Wui Street, Tai Po, New Territories; +852 2656 6420
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What: From an American classic to a French treasure, the beautiful tarte tatin is an apple pie for connoisseurs. The dessert takes a truly seasoned pastry aficionado to create, as not only should the pastry be flaky, the apples should easily be turned out onto the golden brown crust. The team at David Lai’s Neighbourhood has created a tarte tatin that is textbook perfect—a shallow pie, reddish brown wedges of apples cooked in thick caramel, and a well-laminated crust, thanks to an abundance of butter that goes into the making of the dough. Lai’s tarte tatin is an off-menu special dessert that may make an appearance one night a week—particularly Friday nights, according to Lai.
Where: Neighbourhood, G/F, 61 -63 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong; +852 2617 0891
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Lobster Bar & Grill
What: As part of the dessert offering on Lobster Bar & Grill’s Sunday roast menu, the restaurant’s tarte tatin has become the stuff of legends. Chef Cary Docherty turns out these gorgeous apple upside-down tarts that use Pink Lady apples that are evenly peeled and tossed in hot caramel, which cooks the fruit without breaking them apart. The apple chunks are evenly lined around the tin and topped with butter-rich flaky pastry and baked until golden brown. The apples, despite gleaming with a caramel-dressed exterior, yields to the bite and complements the crisp puff pastry layer underneath. The tarte tatin is served with chilled clotted cream, and is currently available only on Sundays.
Where: Lobster Bar & Grill, 6/F Island Shangri-La Hong Kong, Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Admiralty, Hong Kong; +852 2820 8560
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Mille Mele Tokyo
What: Founded and opened in 2018, Mille Mele Tokyo specialises in baked apple pies. The Japanese brand takes the concept of apple pie a step further, filling the buttery flaky pastry with slow-cooked Fuji apples, custard cream and a light soy milk cream. Brushed with vanilla syrup before baking, the vanilla aroma, combined with the magical fusion of custard and soy cream and cubed apples, give an impression of apple pie a la mode. Mille Mele Tokyo has recently opened its second shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, with plans to expand to Tuen Mun late 2020.
Price: Apple pies are available at HK$36 apiece.
Where: Mille Mele Tokyo, G/F, Shop 4B, 33 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
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What: Baked and sold at the basement of Causeway Bay's Sogo department store, RAPL opened in Hong Kong in 2019. The Japanese apple pie specialist highlights its custard cream-filled apple pies, baked to order with a short shelf life. The laminated pastry is well-defined with golden layers, while the apples are cubed and baked until caramelised and sweet with a strong hint of cinnamon. The key to RAPL's success in apple pies lies in its custard cream which is filled-to-order at the shop. The pies may look like a small, filled empanada, but its high butter content, together with custard cream makes RAPL pies a rather substantial, filling treat. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the pies on the same day with the fear of the pastry cream soaking the pastry wet and affect the experience. The pastry shop bakes the apple pies throughout the day and they are best enjoyed warmed up at home.
Price: The RAPL apple custard pies are priced at HK$42 each, and HK$160 for four.
Where: RAPL, Shop 14D, B2/F, Sogo Hong Kong, 555 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong; IG: @raplapplepiehk