• Is there an age limit on these guys? (Image by @yumchahk via Instagram) (Instagram)Source: Instagram
Hong Kong tourists with a strong stomach are participating in a different kind of local activity: and it involves custard buns.
Yasmin Noone

8 Feb 2019 - 10:34 AM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2019 - 11:01 AM

If you’ve got a strong stomach and can handle the sight of spew, then this food trend in Hong Kong might be right up your custard bun alley.

Yum Cha Hong Kong restaurant, located in Central, Hong Kong, has gained national fame among adults and children alike for its celebrated brand of cartoon-like, vomiting custard bun fare.

The most popular of the spewing buns served at the restaurant – decorated with huge, round Farmville-style soft toys hanging on walls and shelves – has two bulging doughy eyes with black pupils and a belly full of egg custard. Brought to the table piping hot for the amusements of guests, the culinary fun begins when the diner picks up a bun, grabs a chopstick and pokes a hole in the dough a few centimetres under the eyes.

Next, the quick squeeze and out pours delicious custard, vomiting from the bun’s makeshift cartoon face. Hilarity ensues around the restaurant, as diners play with their spewing custard buns before eating them and downing a few other serious yum cha delights.

Spewing custard buns come in the shape of a delicately crafted yet faceless pink rose, as well as a white piggy pork bun complete with pink pointy dough ears. Pineapple puffs shaped into bird figurines are also on the menu at this restaurant, which – despite its jovial cartoon character focus – is a serious culinary contender in Hong Kong’s competitive food scene.

The Central-based establishment won a certificate of popularity in 2017 and a national yum cha award in 2016 and it also runs cooking classes for children and adults to learn how to make their own custard buns spew. During the class, SBS learns the recipe to the buns that have made the restaurant Insta-famous.

The bun ingredients used are all natural. “You’ll see that the orange colour [of the dough for the buns] is actually carrot juice,” says the cooking class instructor from Yum Cha Central, while matcha helps the green buns get their hue. Other ingredients include low-gluten flour, instant yeast, baking powder and sugar.

Once the ingredients are combined, the dough is kneaded and then left to ferment for 45 to 75 minutes.

The bun filling is made of salted egg yolk, milk powder and a milk mix (sugar, wheat starch and water), evaporated milk, gelatine, water and butter. The instructor leads the cooking class in rolling the pre-prepared dough into the desired rectangle shape, before placing the custard filling – shaped into a ball – in the middle of the bun dough.

“Fill the centre of the bun by slightly pressing the filling [inside the dough rectangle and then turn the overhanging dough up above the filling] so it looks like a flower.”

Class participants then fold the overhanging dough over the filling and roll the entire creation – with the filling inside – into a ball.

“Spray a little bit of water on top of the custard bun to make it moist,” the instructor continues. “Then add the eyes. The eyes are made from the same pastry as the dough, but it has a white colour. Stick them at the front of the bun and place them close together because once they are cooked everything expands.”

“Fill the centre of the bun by slightly pressing the filling [inside the dough rectangle and then turn the overhanging dough up above the filling] so it looks like a flower.”

Novice cooks are then required to their artistic skills to the test by painting the custard bun eyes and other facial features (like beards for a hipster custard bun) onto their spewing creation with an edible black pen.

The decorated custard buns are rested for an hour and then steamed by restaurant staff for five minutes. Although combining spew and food might not be everyone's bag, these cartoon-like buns are buns are poked with chopsticks throughout the restaurant, are consumed like crazy and have become a gram-worthy favourite.

A similar style of emoji-face egg custard buns is sold at various restaurants around Australia, like Chef’s Gallery in Parramatta, NSW.

“Who says you shouldn’t play with your food? Squeeze these cute cheeks and watch custard ooze from their mouths,” reads the restaurant’s menu. Two buns will set you back around $9. Chefs Gallery also sells steamed sesame ‘piggy face’ buns. 

Crushing it with custard
A custard tart crawl around the world
Whether it's doused in sugar syrup or spiked with ginger, most countries have their spin on this eggy, creamy classic.
Could the world embrace Portuguese phallic cakes as we have their custard tarts? 
In Amarante, these penis cakes honour the town's patron Saint Gonçalo and are gifted to young women as good luck fertility charms.
Pandan custard

Forget custard powder. Packing a beautiful vibrant green, this Thai dessert is so easy. 

Mango custard vanilla slice

SBS Food and Black Star Pastry have teamed up to pop a twist on an Aussie classic. Tugging at those summer strings is this mango and passionfruit version. #BringBackTheClassics

The custard pies that will make you want to pack your bags for Italy
And 3 other delicious reasons the new season of Italy Unpacked will have you planning your next holiday in the land of pasta, pizza and pastry.
Bakeproof: Comforting custard
Meet our everyday baker Anneka Manning. Each month, she'll be sharing her baking rituals, modern and ancient, and baking techniques from around the world. This week, she explores baked and stirred custard in the form of puddings, pastry and tarts.