I’m currently in Hong Kong, taking in the sights and trying as much tasty food as possible, including this delicious sago with coconut milk & fruit.
I was wondering around a few streets behind Jordan Street in Tsim Sha Tsui (尖沙咀) and stumbled into the small store in the photo below.
I was simply curious as to what was being sold and an old woman appeared asking me what I wanted. I wasn’t planning on ordering anything but she was so sweet and nice that I ended up picking something at random. I wanted to ask her what certain things were but the language barrier prompted me to just pick anything. After pointing at what I wanted and her trying to figure out which one (the photo was out of reach so I couldn’t just tap on the photo), she eventually figures out what I wanted and tells me the name “Xī mǐ hùn guǒ gāo” (西米混果糕). I pronounce it with her and she nodded happily. Though I felt a little uneasy because I had no idea what I just ordered, it looked a lot like rice with fruit, she seemed pleased to be serving me the dish so I felt more comfortable.
Because of my curiosity, I took it upon myself to look up what I ate. It’s called Sago or Sai Mai Lo (西米露). Sago are similar to the tapioca pearls in bubble/ boba tea, except they’re white tiny pearls in typically coconut milk. I saw some recipes add condensed milk and fruit as well. I read some call it soup, others see it as a snack or dessert. I’ve seen from photos it’s typically served simple with just the pearls in coconut milk or with mango fruit or taro mixed in.
The place of origin is hard to tell. When I search “Sago with coconut milk” Wiki says it’s Vietnam, but when I search “Sai Mai Lo” Wiki says it’s Hong Kong. It’s possible that different countries have their own variation of the same dish.
It came out to $35HKD which is about $4.46USD.
The first 2 bites I had I honestly thought it was kind of bland but then as I dug deep into the bowl instead of scooping from the surface and it was really good. It wasn’t too sweet; the fruit and sweetness from the milk was a perfect balance. I read online that it’s supposed to be sago with coconut milk, but honestly it tasted like condensed milk to me; I didn’t get much of a coconut flavor from it. The dish overall was very refreshing. It was cool and it felt great to eat on a hot day.
The size was great! I say this because of the price for the amount I got. I would say the bowl was about a pint of ice cream. The bowl looked like it was bigger than a pint but she didn’t fill it all the way to the top.
I got a good mix of fruit: papaya, kiwi, watermelon, dragon fruit, and honey dew melon. It all seemed fresh (perhaps cut early morning since everything was pre-prepared and she simply put the items together in the bowl). The dessert wasn’t cold but it was cool, like I said previously. It was rather refreshing. I actually wanted to order another.
Would I buy again? Yes.
I’m thinking I should stop by to try something new from the menu. The price is fair and the taste was perfect; I really liked that it wasn’t too sweet. After a long morning walking in the sun, it felt like the perfect pick me up. I sat down on the side of the road, along with many other travelers and took my time to eat my sago with fruit. Can’t wait to see what else I can try.