Its very name—an amalgam of Chinese and English, reflects the multicultural origins of one of Hong Kong’s most loved dim sum (点心 diǎnxīn). The “dan tart” (蛋挞 dàntà, egg tart) is the unofficial foodie mascot for a city that is home to some of the finest Michelin-starred holes-in-the-wall in Asia. The tiny pastries are devoured in Cantonese restaurants from as far afield as Sydney and Toronto.
The delectable sweet’s true origins are a mystery. The dan tart’s genesis could be a Hong Kong adaptation of the British custard tart. Or, even more likely, it’s a Macau remake of the still popular Portuguese egg tarts. Colonial history aside, we know for sure that some form of egg tart existed in China prior to contact with the West.
Egg tarts made their first recorded appearance in a banquet for Emperor Kangxi. The “Manchu-Han Imperial Feast” (满汉全席 Mǎn Hàn Quán Xí)—one of the most lavish meals documented in Chinese culinary history—featured the tarts as one of the “Thirty-two Delicacies.” The eating went on for days.