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Made in Mui Wo: Cooling desserts to crush the heat

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Well-known among foodies for its sensational seafood and dim sum, Mui Wo is also the perfect place to get a dessert fix, with a difference. Follow the locals’ lead, and head to Ngan Wan Road for homemade South East Asian treats.

Fans of Halo-Halo may be surprised to learn that their favourite Philippine dessert is readily available (for just HK$30) at Island Toys, the popular village toy shop on Ngan Wan Road. Tagalog for ‘mixed’ or ‘mixture,’ Halo-Halo is a gloopy concoction of crushed ice, evaporated milk and a host of other ingredients – everything from sweetened beans, to sago and coconut strips – all topped with a dollop of ice cream. Girlie, the Filipino owner at Island Toys, makes her own and serves it up in near overflowing beer glasses.

When it arrives at your table, Halo-Halo is a solid mass but by the time you’re done mixing all the ingredients together, and chipping away at the crushed ice, it transforms into
the aforementioned gloop that you’ll be tempted to chug down (hence the beer glasses).

To make her Halo-Halo, Girlie starts with jackfruit and/ or sweet potato, which she cooks and leaves to ferment for three days. She then packs the dessert with red beans or monggo (adzuki beans), kaong (palm fruit), toasted almonds (her secret ingredient), milk, crushed ice, and usually some ube (water yam). Sometimes she throws in a bit of leche flan (Filipino caramel pudding) or a handful of sago pearls. And it always comes with that cooling dollop of ice cream on top.

Another must-try chilled dessert – a ‘festive Indian delight’ – that’s currently a big hit in Mui Wo, is the Nariwal Ko Laddoo (HK$55) at Deer Horn Restaurant and Bar (also on Ngan Wan Road). Nepali-born owner Pushpa Thapa Rai makes these no-bake, refrigerated honey-nut balls herself, and they’re selling like… hot cakes.

Pushpa roasts and grinds the nuts (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts) used in her Laddoo herself. She then mixes in desiccated coconut and honey to form balls, which she dips into more desiccated coconut (no sugar) and refrigerates overnight.

Pushpa’s Laddoo is much less sweet than it would be in Nepal and, for this reason, she serves it with ice cream. “I don’t personally like it too sweet, so I thought incorporating the ice cream would help fill the gap for people who have a sweet tooth,” she says. (And she’s right).

But for some it’s the nutrient packed, nut-laden nature of Pushpa’s Laddoo that appeals. “There are a couple of people in the village with cancer and they order a lot of my Laddoo,” Pushpa says proudly. “The nuts are really nutritious, and they say it gives them a much-needed energy boost.” Pushpa’s Laddoo is also very popular with Lantau hikers. “It’s their energy bar,” she says. “They want it without ice cream.” – Reporting by Jan Yumul. Photos by Duey Tam

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