Very few people can resist the allure of French toast. How can one say no to a crispy, delicious plate of fried bread with delicious toppings?

Among plenty of dessert dishes typically eaten for breakfast — especially here in Hong Kong — French toast is on another level. Expect nothing less than a golden brown, deep-fried island in a sea of butter or peanut butter (occasionally both), condensed milk and syrup — best paired with a steaming cup of coffee or milk tea.

Most cha chaan tengs include a foolproof, crowd-pleasing rendition of Hong Kong French toast on their menus. That said, we know our readers may have different preferences for French toast. Some of us prefer the lighter Western counterpart with fresh fruits, others enjoy the addictive, wonderfully artery-clogging decadence that is the Hong Kong iteration.

If you’re on the hunt for your next hearty, sweet brunch — or perhaps, an unctuous cure for the night before — look no further than these top picks for local and Western-style French toast.

Local French Toast

Chau Kee Dim Sum 

As if French toast isn’t indulgent enough, Chau Kee adds a delightful twist to their version with an overflowing ‘lava’ interior. Diners can choose from a variety of flavours, including custard, sesame, and taro. It’s best to savour this treat with a friend — with one to slice it open and the other to capture the money shot of oozing hot custard.

Chau Kee Dim Sum, Shop H1, G/F, Tung Lee Mansion, Water Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 2559 2389.

Shui Kee Coffee 

For an authentic cha chaan teng experience, Shui Kee is the place to bring visiting friends. With nostalgic interiors befitting one of Hong Kong’s most beloved diners, the menu is equally traditional, featuring classics that have passed the test of time. Diners flock to Shui Kee just for the buttery, crispy, and fluffy pan-fried French toast. Pair it with the bottled iced milk tea and thank us later. 

Shui Kee Coffee, Shop 17, 2/F, Cooked Food Centre, Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building and Civic Centre, 345 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2850 8643

Anli Street Restaurant

Not to be confused with the On Lee Fishball Noodles shop, An Li’s toasts are just as famous as their delicious beef brisket noodles. Located in Shau Kei Wan, An Li is popular with hungry hikers after their trek along Dragon’s Back. Piled with a generous slab of butter and dripping with condensed milk, An Li’s thick and decadent French toast is a delightful treat.  

Anli Street Restaurant, 57 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East, Hong Kong +852 2567 7122

Cheung Hing Coffee Shop 

Frequented by celebrities — and with autographs to prove it — Cheung Hing is known and loved by Hongkongers. At this Happy Valley mainstay, diners can always enjoy the delicious scent of pineapple buns fresh from the oven. From 11:00am onwards, the fragrant Kaya Butter French Toast and decadent Peanut Butter French Toast are both available on the menu.  

Cheung Hing Coffee Shop, 9 Yik Yam Street, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, +852 2572 5097

Australia Dairy Company

When tourists visit Hong Kong, this is usually the first few places that come to mind. Australia Dairy Company is known for their brisk, no-nonsense service, smooth scrambled eggs, and — as the name suggests — a slew of dairy specialties such as the double boiled milk pudding. The French toast here is equally dependable and delicious — expect a crispy yet fluffy slab of toast, drenched in buttery and syrupy goodness. 

Australia Dairy Company, 47 Parkes Street, Jordan, Hong Kong, +852 2730 1356

Western French Toast

Cupping Room 

There’s a reason why Cupping Room branches are all over Hong Kong Island. Diners love the peaceful setting, award-winning coffees, and delicious all-day dining. Why settle for one dessert when we can have two on one plate? With Cupping Room’s Crème Brûlée French Toast, diners can expect a delicious, pudding-like toast with caramelised bananas, creamy mascarpone, and flavourful syrup.

Cupping Room, various locations including 299 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2799 3398

Elementary

Diners at Elementary always have their phone cameras at the ready, and for good reason. Dig into the impressively thick and photogenic EFT (Elementary French Toast) on the brunch menu. This generous slab of brioche comes with rhubarb sorbet, baby basil, and fresh berries — adding vibrant colours and refreshing flavours to the dish.

Elementary, 15-16 School Street, School Street, Tai Hang, Hong Kong, +852 2362 2812

Somm 

Start the day on a delicious and decadent note with Somm’s Sourdough French Toast on its raved-about breakfast menu. Flavourful and fragrant, the sourdough French toast pairs excellently with the accoutrements such as fresh strawberries, raspberries, and sour cream. The artfully arranged fruit makes for an Instagram friendly breakfast — and we’re not complaining. 

Somm, 7/F, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong, +852 2132 0055 

Little Cove Espresso

Packed on weekends, Little Cove Espresso is not our little secret anymore: diners flock to this dog-friendly café for many reasons, including their beautifully plated French Toast. Mascarpone is always an excellent addition to French toast — Little Cove’s photogenic version further elevates it with rose petals, pistachio and cinnamon. 

Little Cove Espresso, Shop 1 and 2, G/F, Siu Yat Building, Sai Kung Hoi Pong Square, Sai Kung, +852 9572 8560

Elephant Grounds

Elephant Grounds is no doubt a firm neighbourhood favourite for many when it comes to brunch. On weekends, Nutella lovers can indulge in the Strawberry Nutella French Toast, available on the Wan Chai and Mid-Levels brunch menus. Topped with fresh strawberries, hazelnut cream, Nutella and hazelnuts, this toast is not for the small-stomached or the faint of heart. It’s served with maple syrup and house-made whipped cream on the side. 

Elephant Grounds, various locations including: 8 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2778 2700

Okra Hong Kong

We’ve raved about Okra’s delicious lunch menu before, but its newly introduced brunch will sate larger appetites who want to settle into the weekend with a few cocktails at the ready. Among inventive and extravagant specials riffing on classic breakfast staples (think poached eggs with house made X.O. sauce and dashi cabbage, or a dashi-infused Spanish tortilla omelette), don’t sleep on chef Max Levy’s inventive take on French toast: Featuring miso de leche, black sugar, smoked bacon and mirin cherries, this indulgent combination ticks all the boxes with its balance of sweet and savoury.

(Header image credit: Joseph Gonzalez/Unsplash)

Constance Lam

Writer