“Sweet Honey Desserts” is a cafe serving traditional Taiwanese desserts. This summer they have garnered much attention from their hyper realistic dog cakes. And now with two locations, you can visit them in either Burnaby or Richmond.
I have dined with them once before in Richmond, but after trying two desserts with little excitement I decided not to return. That was until I saw that they have new Christmas treats for the winter season. Riding the wave of success with their dog theme, they now have two more dawning Santa hats. And for me it is like collecting “Pokémon” in the augmented reality game, “Pokémon Go”. It is essentially the same chocolate dog, but now that it comes with a hat, I wanted it all over again.
So here I was, now at their Burnaby location getting a better second impression of this chain. A more favourable visit with some desserts I will return for. Located on Grimmer street, the area is quickly expanding with many like dessert and drink cafes. The shoppe is easy to spot with their entire menu pictured as decals splashed across the exterior. A collection of well groomed fluffy pancakes, rice balls, and fruit beverages.
The interior is fairly modern. Geometric shapes adhered on to a mirrored surface on one side of the room, and red and white striped wallpaper on the other. The dining area is spacious with plenty of room to move between lacquered table tops and cushy chairs. We were given our choice of seats and handed a stack of menus to peruse through.
The main menu was handsomely bounded, arranged by specific items, featuring plenty of glossy photos. A page for “durian lovers”, and two for those who like mango, grass jelly, and ice cream. For more traditional Chinese desserts look to their “tofu pudding series”, “rice ball series”, or “sago”. There was a lot or options, and a lot of overlap within each category. Though the photos definitely helped in the ordering process. For noting is that everything we had was exactly as pictured in the the photo.
We started with their Christmas specials. And what I thought was their ice cream dog cake with Santa hats, like below, was actual a solid chocolate puppy with a fondant hat. Not as realistic as the cake, but just as cute and as memorable. Plus they make for great stocking stuffers. They line the top of their refrigerated glass case in easy to take out plastic boxes with handles. But be warned the hat isn’t secured all that well to the top of the dog, and the dog isn’t stable on the cardboard base either.
As for the original dog dessert, the cake only comes in chocolate. A bull dog on his belly with pudgy arms and meaty legs outstretched, and a nub of a tail at his end. It comes right out of the freezer and has the white ice crystals to prove it. Said crystals highlights the detail in the dog’s coat well. I advise waiting for them to thaw and for the cake to start sweat a little, in order to be able to cut into it with ease. Honestly that is half the fun of this treat, to be able to slice into the dog and ruin the illusion as such. As for taste it is like a melty chocolate mousse. Not very rich, not very chocolatey. But if it had both of those characteristics, it would have been better for it. Great to have once for the novelty of saying that you have. But as for taste, you are better off with chocolate ice cream by the scoop.
Next was their soufflé pancake, holiday edition. They are the latest restaurant to offer this jiggly treat. The lightest pancake you will ever have, in a rendition that is especially eggy. This gave it a more savoury feel; one that I preferred, and was best highlighted by the salted cheese foam it cams in. The foam is very similar to the topping you can get crowning a bubble tea. Tasty. But sadly, the only thing festive about this was the fondant red and white Santa hat. The very same one used for the dogs above. The fruit on the side felt out of place and out of season. I would have liked green and red sprinkles instead. Although the papaya, mango, watermelon, and blueberries did offer a nice freshness, complimenting the salted foam and helping to balance the dessert as a whole. Except, I could make out the taste of durian in each of them. I guess they were all stored together, and that the very distinct and fragrant flavour of durian bleeds. And as for the Santa hat, it was horribly sweet with a tougher chew. Maybe not for eating. Its sugariness was overwhelming, but it did what I wanted it to visually.
As cute as these ideas were, I much rather their regular menu items. Desserts with great textures, that aren’t too sweet.
As a fan of durian, who is also too lazy to crack open the fruit herself, whenever I see it featured on the menu, I have to take advantage. I went for the “Durian Mochi”. There were three perfectly gummy rounds, well filled with durian fruit from Thailand. And rolled in shredded coconut. Deliciously done, but out of personal preference I would have been happier without the coconut, to be able to best enjoy the smooth texture of the mocchi and its hidden fruit centre. As a whole it was deliciously sweet yet mild enough for those who don’t necessarily like the flavour of durian. Plus we didn’t get any of the smell if you aren’t a fan of it either.
If you are looking for a great sticky chew, you have to try their rice balls. These are “Glutinous rice balls” sitting in a pool of syrup. The sweet liquid adds sweetness, and also helps in adhering the mix of crushed peanuts, sesame, and coconut flakes to your ball; when you dip into it at the centre of the bowl. But be sure to eat these first, the crushed nuts do get soggy quick; and as a result, you don’t get that great contrast in texture between gooey rice ball and crunchy peanuts.
But if you are looking for something more decadent, you can get your balls stuffed with black sesame, and served in a pool of split sesame and walnut soup. I loved the simple and clean presentation. Biting into a ball, it was an unexpected and delicious surprise to have a pool of liquid pour out in to your mouth. I just wish there were more rice balls, especially given how much sauce you get with an order; and it isn’t as great without something to dip into it. There was more than half of the blended colour soup left when we were done with it.
And during the last visit to their Richmond location, I also tried the “mango pomelo sago”. I expected something more like mango pudding in taste and texture. But this was thin and bland. There was enough mango flavour in the soup, and you wanted something more substantial to dip into and/or eat with it. Maybe more rice balls? Or larger tapioca pearls. Overall, I likened this to a watered down smoothie bowl.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I highly recommend their rice ball series, and don’t know another restaurant that offers such an extensive array of it and durian themed desserts. And now with a location in Burnaby, I can visit them more often, and at my convenience. Don’t deny your cravings.
5358 Grimmer St, Burnaby, BC V5H 2H2