The best polo buns in Hong Kong? Australia Dairy Company was unfortunately closed on Thursday, the day we landed. So for our first food stop in Hong Kong, we selected Kam Wah Cafe instead, given that our exhaustive research had thrown up Kam Wah as having the best polo buns in Hong Kong. For more information about what a polo bun is, do have a look at our writeup on Kam Fung:
The polo bun, or bo lo bau in Cantonese, actually means pineapple bun. Yet there is no pineapple in the bun, it is the top of the bun that is made to resemble a pineapple. It is a kind of sweet bun which is crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside. In Hong Kong the polo bun is usually served with a piece of butter inside the bun. This is called bo lo yau in Cantonese, or buttered pineapple bun.
Arriving at 7:40am, we were early enough to avoid the queue and we were quickly ushered to our seats. Kam Wah Cafe is located between the Mong Kok and Prince Edward MTR stations and it is a short walk from Mong Kok MTR’s exit B3. As usual for complete directions do scroll to the bottom of the post.
Well this is not the best menu photo that we’ve taken. But we were exhausted and sleep deprived. We ordered the following items for HK$76:
- 2x polo buns
- 1x egg tart
- 1x french toast
- 1x iced milk tea
- 1x hot milk tea
Kam Wah Polo Bun
The bun is HUGE! It is much larger than it looks in the photo. I was really looking forward to this. The first thing that I noticed when I bit into the polo bun was that it wasn’t warm. It was actually a bit cold. It was a cold bun that wasn’t particularly crispy or tasty. It was not that bad, but it was just slightly better than random no-name bakeries in Singapore. This was a shocking experience for me really, while quite a few Hong Kong eateries in Singapore serve sub-standard fare, the stories from Hong Kong always had a consistent refrain – delicious food. I have to give the caveat that I was exhausted and sleep deprived when I arrived at Kam Wah, so my taste buds may have been a bit wonky. It is also very possible that I was simply unfortunate and got the tail end of their preparation round, but this goes to poor consistency. We ordered two buns and both were in a similar state, and so we unanimously rate this 3/5.
The polo bun may have been incredibly delicious if it was piping hot out of the kitchen, but c’est la vie. Based on our experience we would recommend Kam Fung’s polo bun over this.
Egg Tart, French Toast and Milk Tea
Unfortunately our experience with the other food items was similarly saddening. The other signature item in Kam Wah, their egg tarts, was quite pedestrian – 3.5/5. At this point in our trip to Hong Kong, our taste buds hadn’t really adjusted to the milk tea, so at the time we were not all that impressed by Kam Wah’s iteration of it – 3.8/5. The worst experience was with the french toast, which we ordered based on its popularity on the reviews that we found. There was some kind peanut spread inside which did not taste like the regular peanut butter. They provided maple syrup to go along with it and we tried the french toast with and without – 3/5.
I’m not sure what went wrong here. Our best guess is that the head chef was sick for the day and a pretty mediocre apprentice who wasn’t really quite ready was forced to stand in. Otherwise we blame our lack of sleep and exhaustion affecting our judgment. In any event Kam Wah’s consistent good reviews stands in a big contrast to our experience. In terms of service, we got our first does of the ‘famous’ Hong Kong service when one of their staff rudely moved and slammed our glass of iced milk tea away revealing a statement printed on the table that customers in pairs should sit next to each other rather than facing each other. We did see that note but decided to stretch out a bit given that the crowd had thinned.
My advice would be to maybe give them a try if you are in the area and hope for a better taste experience, but I’m not so sure that Kam Wah warrants a special trip down if you’re staying in a hotel near Central on Hong Kong Island.