New bakery, Dang Wen Li by Dominique Ansel, is expected to open in Hong Kong in December in Tsim Sha Tsui, will be the chef’s seventh bakery. The others are located in Los Angeles (two), London and three in New York. The chef opened one in Tokyo, but it closed after a year.
Perhaps the Tokyo experience has informed Ansel’s latest venture in Hong Kong, as he is leaving the Cronut™ at home and instead will be preparing desserts insired by local traditions, for local tastes.
“The new concept is pastries for locals – pastries that are inspired by the culture and traditions of Hong Kong,” Ansel told the South China Morning Post. “We’ve been working with Upper East Holdings [the company behind Lady M crepe cakes] – we’ve known them for maybe two years now. We were always really cautious about opening in Hong Kong because it’s not an easy market. It’s a market that people underestimate – they think that they can come in and stamp their brand on it. The more you know Hong Kong, the more you realise that won’t work.
“Not having the Cronut was a pivotal decision,” Ansel says. “Everybody expected us to just bring the Cronut but that’s like setting your own expiration date because how long will people like it? We also decided we weren’t bringing the frozen s’mores [and] we weren’t bringing the cookie shots, our signatures. We wanted to find a translation for them for the Hong Kong market. Frozen s’mores is something for American kids who grew up eating this. They know what it is, they recognise it, they have an emotional connection to this.
“I wanted to have a similar signature for Hong Kong – something that’s on a stick – so the fishballs. Instead of the cookie shot [a small cup made of chocolate chip cookie, filled with milk] we’re changing it to a Yakult bottle made out of a snickerdoodle cookie, with a chocolate lid. It’s going to be filled with milk tea. We wanted people to have the same connection that [people in the US] have of childhood cookies and milk, and for people in Asia it’s Yakult.”
Ansel will bring his usual bold creativity to is Hong Kong offering with creations such as the “juice box” dessert – a cake with lemon mousse and bergamot cream, a pastry homage to the local snack of boiled mochi balls and a dessert resembling the popular snack of fishballs on a stick.