A little background about myself, I am born and raised in Hong Kong. I came to England because of university and have relocated to London after graduation (thank you British citizenship!).
As a Hong Kong-nese, traditional street food holds a dearly place in our hearts. Eggettes, aka Hong Kong egg waffles, bubble waffles, or gai daan zai etc., is definitely one that is most loved by most, if not all, Hong Kong-ers. It is one of the most iconic Hong Kong street food for sure. You can imagine how excited I got when I first discovered nosTEAgia!
NosTEAgia, founded by two students who are passionate about bubble tea, first started its business at a Homegrown market in Bricklane by selling Taiwanese bubble tea. Now it has a stall opening from Tuesdays to Sundays at the PUMP Shoreditch Street Food Market – East London’s biggest and best street food market, as well as other pop-up locations. Their business has also expanded to serve bubble waffles and hot bowls!
It was a cold Saturday afternoon, and the area was rather quiet. Being super excited, I skipped to their stall, which is right in front of the road, and ordered the Black & White Bubble Waffle and the Assam Bubble Milk Tea.
It’s like a nostalgic trip back home as I watch the waffle batter being poured into the hot griddle and as I patiently waited for the batter to get cooked and puffed up into multiple ‘mini eggs’ (which is the literal translation from its Chinese name gai daan zai).
After taking it out of the griddle, it is normally being cooled down on a rack. But with this cold weather in England at the moment, the waffle was put into the paper holder immediately and it cooled down fairly quickly. For the Black & White combination, whipped cream and chocolate sauce are added as toppings to the waffle.
Typically back home, we just eat our egg waffle plain. We normally just get a plain one from a street vendor and eat it by tearing out these ‘mini eggs’ one or few at a time. It is quite an innovative way to add these western waffle toppings to this classic Hong Kong-style egg waffle. I guess that really appeals to non-Asians and the fusion concept is what really attracts the public’s attention.
The waffle tasted absolutely beautiful. It is so rich in its egg flavor and has this fluffy cake-y texture with a lightly crispy shell. It really brings a taste of home. To be honest it tasted better than some Hong Kong vendors nowadays which tend to be more of a mere crispy shell and rather empty inside. I kind of wished it doesn’t have all these western toppings because it alone tastes so tremendous already that I feel like it’s not really necessary for all the extra glamour. Perhaps it’s just because I grew up having it plain all these years that I prefer it without the toppings. Maybe they can consider serving plain ones as well in the future?
As for my Assam Bubble Milk Tea, you can choose from having it hot or cold. I personally always find bubble tea tasting better when served cold, so despite the chilling weather, I opted for a cold cup of bubble milk tea.
Assam tea blend is a very popular tea in Taiwan for making bubble tea. I remember travelling to Taiwan and this place called Sun Moon Lake makes the best Assam tea and their Assam bubble milk tea is just absolutely stunning.
Here their Assam tea was fragrant and mellow, but the flavor was not as strong as I remembered from Taiwan. Regardless, it is a very authentic tea base, and is the best one I’ve had so far in London really. The tapioca was cooked in an authentic traditional method as well, hence it has the right chewy texture and a nice syrup glaze. I personally prefer having my bubble milk tea half sweetened only and I forgot to tell them that when I was making my order, so it was a bit sweet to my taste but it is the right amount of sweetness that’s normally in a bubble milk tea.
To sum up, this is a beautiful little nostalgic food trip back home. Thank you, nosTEAgia for the best authentic taste of home in London or even the best all across England. I definitely recommend this place to everyone for a taste of real bubble tea and a taste of this Hong Kong style waffle. I will certainly return if I’m around the area and try out other bubble tea flavors, maybe another bubble waffle craving fix, and probably try out their hot bowls as well!
[July 2016] Check out their new Matcha pop up product here