If you think that all Chinese desserts can be categorized as one entity, think again.
Snackshot—a new eatery specializing in Hong Kong-style treats—is the latest food establishment to join the restaurant-heavy Marpole neighbourhood.
Co-owners Aurelia Au and Wayne Poon don’t come from a food industry background. In fact, this ambitious venture was actually part of a final project for a business course that they took while completing the entrepreneurship program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
“It was either this or finding a way to become business consultants for a company,” Au explained to the Straight in an interview at Snackshot. “Opening our own business seemed more feasible.”
That doesn’t mean the young dessert shop owners don’t have a strong passion for Hong Kong desserts—both of them love eating tofu pudding and drinking different types of tong sui (Chinese sweet soups).
“It took us half a year [to get everything together],” said Au. “We got a lot of decorations in Hong Kong, such as Hong Kong mini bus signs, the miniatures models of old Hong Kong culture, and the wall paper.”
The dessert shop’s wallpaper is eye-catching and iconic because it captures Hong Kong culture in a mesmerizing and vibrant way—think colourful buildings, retro transit, and plenty of neon signs in traditional Chinese characters.
“We told people to custom make this wallpaper for us,” said Poon. “Shipping it here was very hectic because it was too long and couldn’t be folded.”
Aside from the struggle of putting up the Instagram-worthy décor, creating and preparing Snackshot’s menu mobilized both Au’s and Poon’s family members.
“There was a lot of tasting and testing,” said Au. “We have our whole family crew, and they are from the older generation, so they know what the traditional tastes are like. We kept on making it, and they kept on trying it.”
She also emphasizes the importance of creating photogenic desserts, because eye-catching food items can be the key to a food business’ success in this day and age of social media influence (this factor is obviously second to offering great flavours).
“My idea was to take something that is traditional but repackage it to make it look trendy again,” explained Au. “A lot of young people may not like eating tong sui because it’s so old-fashioned. But hey, it’s good stuff and it’s something that is passed on from a long time ago.”
One of Snackshot’s most popular items is the sweet soup tasting platter. It consists of nine mini versions of its tong sui, including red bean soup; green bean soup; cashew paste; almond paste; sesame paste; tofu pudding; and more. Guests can choose to have it hot or cold.
“I came up with this idea because I am super indecisive. When I go to a store and see a menu with a lot of stuff in it, I can take half an hour to order,” said Au with a laugh. “I was like “Why don’t we put everything together so people don’t have to think and they and can have everything together?””
“Traditionally, people like to mix different kinds of tong sui together,” said Poon. “They ask for it [to be mixed], but now they can do it by themselves.”
Another item that is constantly ordered by guests is the Vitasoy milk with red bean bulldog. Traditionally known as red bean ice (sans the bottle of Vitasoy), it is an iconic drink that can be found at Hong Kong-style cha chaan tengs (Hong Kong-style cafés).
“We thought of this drink because we love Mexican bulldogs,” said Au. “It’s a margarita with a whole bottle of Corona on top. We can’t sell liquor, so we thought of this.”
Snackshot also serves tofu pudding, which is made with very soft tofu and sweetened with your preference of brown sugar or syrup.
If you want to balance out all the sweet flavours with something savoury, its menu also features curry fish balls, rice rolls, maltose crackers, and more.
The 1,200-square-foot space was previously occupied by a frozen yogurt shop, and before that, Taiwanese drink-and-snack chain Bubble World.
The dessert destination offers a total of 16 seats, and fills up quickly on regular weekdays as well as weekends. The two owners tell us that lines form out the door; for those who don’t have the patience of waiting up to an hour for a table, we suggest ordering take-out.
If you do have spare time to linger around for a table, the experience of enjoying your dessert inside Snackshot is well worth the wait.
“I think our stuff is pretty educational,” said Poon. “We want our customers to learn about and understand Hong Kong culture through food.”
Scroll through the photos before for a look inside the new dessert shop.