One of the best ways to explore a new destination is through its local snacks. Gift a taste of four cities by picking up these sweet and savoury treats before you leave.
KEE WAH BAKERY EGG ROLLS
There’s no lack of snacks to bring back from Hong Kong – a city as fiercely passionate about food as about politics – and the number of shops selling traditional Chinese baked goods is staggering. A safe bet for local treats is Kee Wah Bakery, which has been around since 1938, making it one of Hong Kong’s oldest bakeries. While mostly known for bridal cakes and mooncakes, Kee Wah’s buttery egg rolls are popular with locals and visitors for their slim size and extra crispy texture, making it almost impossible to eat just one. Perfect for souvenirs or gifts, their egg rolls are also available in assorted flavours like ginger, black sesame, and seaweed. For those watching their figure, there’s even a healthier version made with egg whites.
MAISON DREHER KUGELHOPFS
What the croissant is to Paris, the kugelhopf is to Strasbourg. You’ll find some of the best versions of this crownshaped sweet brioche from La Maison Dreher, a family-owned boulangerie and pâtisserie specialising in German and Alsatian delicacies. Their kugelhopfs include the traditional version topped with whole almonds, a glazed rendition with hazelnuts, and even savoury ones containing bacon and walnuts. Save room in your luggage with a bag of mini kugelhopfs that pack a lot of pastry punch into a few heavenly bites.
The Japanese are renowned for making even the simplest things remarkably well, and wagashi – traditional sweets and confectioneries – are no exception. In Kyoto, one of the most famous local snacks is yatsuhashi, cinnamonflavoured biscuits made with rice flour and curved to resemble a Japanese koto harp. They were invented by a musician during the Edo period, from whom the specialty takes its name. Shogoin Yatsuhashi has been making them since 1689, and also makes the more modern mochi-like variation called an-iri namayatsuhashi, which uses soft, unbaked dough and is filled with red bean paste – a sweet souvenir even the Japanese can’t seem to resist.
Like many Filipino delicacies, polvoron comes from Spanish influences. But while Spain’s version of polvoron is a crumbly shortbread cookie, the Philippine treat is a powdered candy (the word itself comes from the Spanish “polvo”, meaning powder or dust). The humble no-bake sweet is incredibly simple – powdered milk, toasted flour, sugar, and butter, packed tightly together – but when eaten, it transforms into a rich, creamy paste that just melts in your mouth. Arguably the most famous commercial version is made by Goldilocks, whose classic rendition is now joined by new flavours like ube (purple yam), cookies and cream, peanut, and pinipig (toasted glutinous rice grains). Goldilocks even sells them in assorted box sets so you can try the different varieties before deciding on a favourite.