There is no shortage of places to get dessert in the San Gabriel Valley. Everything from shaved snow to paletas to Taiwanese baked goods can be easily found. A wide array of Chinese regional desserts turns up on restaurant menus, too. Yet the region best known for its desserts – Hong Kong – has been underrepresented in Greater Los Angeles.
Fortunately, there are the two SGV locations of Premier Dessert Art, which opened last fall in Monterey Park and more recently in West Covina. Both live up to their name, providing an artistic, creative spin on both modern and traditional Hong Kong–style desserts.
Hong Kong cuisine has long blended traditional Cantonese styles with Western influences, a melding that is even more pronounced when it comes to desserts. At Premier Dessert Art, the emphasis is on tropical fruits including lychee and durian. Known as “the king of Fruits," Durian has a rich flavor and custardlike texture — but is most notorious for its strong odor.
Premier's most popular item is the mango roll. It's similar to the steamed rice noodle rolls – chee chong fen — that you get at dim sum, but instead of being covered with soy sauce or filled with savory items, they're filled with whipped cream and mango. Most of the items at Premier aren’t very sweet, which is what you should expect from any Chinese dessert, even those with Western influences.
There are also Hong Kong–style pancakes — small crepes wrapped around a filling of whipped cream and fruit, which can also be ordered using a pandan pancake. The aromatic leaves of the pandan plant are popular in Southeast Asian desserts, providing a green color and a slightly nutty flavor. Cold fruit noodles soup, using flat, rice noodles, chia seeds and fruit in a “soup” of coconut milk, is perfect for summer.
A small selection of traditional Cantonese-style desserts — such as black sticky rice with coconut and papaya and white fungus — is served either hot or cold. You’ll see older Cantonese customers enjoying a traditional dessert, sometimes with their children or grandchildren, while a younger crowd enjoys a more modern dessert at the next table.
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In all, the menu features 83 dessert items, including lava puddings, tofu custards, taro balls, steamed egg white dishes and snows, each stylishly plated to the point where they're almost too pretty to eat.
Premier Dessert Art, 501 W. Garvey Ave., #107, Monterey Park, (626) 293-8188, and 3646 S. Nogales St., West Covina, (626) 965-9789.