SAN MATEO, Calif.
After a night of eating Japanese food, my recent impromptu food crawl of San Mateo landed our group at the Hong Kong-style dessert cafe known as Dessert Republic.

Our party included Sandy of Foodhoe’s Foraging and her hubby, Mr. K., and Edda of A Housewife’s Tale who guided us through our gastronomical discovery of Peninsula eats on a recent Saturday night. Our last stop at Dessert Republic was a sweet discovery of this unique cafe with a wide selection of traditional Hong Kong desserts.

Asian desserts, however, are not necessarily the most beautiful. From what I remember growing up in Hawaii with a mom who came from Hong Kong, our desserts were often made of things like grass jelly or soy beans. In the United States, we’ve been exposed to the tapioca pearl drinks from Hong Kong, but Dessert Republic will bring your education of Asian desserts to another level.

Dessert Republic has an amazing call system at the table so you can ring the servers to give your order, ask for water, or get your bill. Genius!

Dessert Republic has an amazing call system at the table so you can ring the servers to give your order, ask for water, or get your bill. Genius!

After reviewing the extensive menu, I stuck with the traditional sweet soups added to silken tofu. (See, told you Hong Kong desserts never sound like desserts.) This is soft tofu in the center of a bowl filled with black sesame soup (made from grounded black sesame seeds) ($5.29). The sesame flavor needed more strength, but I did enjoy the tofu center.

Sandy and Edda got a red bean soup version of the same tofu dessert, and also tried fried sesame balls filled with black sesame paste called “Stars of Milky Way” ($6.25). The sesame balls came with chocolate drizzles. We also tried some drinks, with Edda actually getting a grass jelly ice drink ($3.25) and me sticking with my favorite Hong Kong milk tea (hot tea with sweetened condensed milk)($2), which was a great version offered up at Dessert Republic.

Beyond the sweets, I found the space delightful with its murals trying to creating a Hong Kong alley feel, which is funny considering that you find Dessert Republic in a small alley next to a parking structure in downtown San Mateo. Even though I didn’t fall in the love with the desserts, it’s a fun space to hangout with friends after a night of dining out.

Dessert Republic, 128 Main St., San Mateo, Calif. PH: 650.401.3570. Open Tuesday through Saturday (late). www.dessertrepublic.com

An employee works the "egg puff" station. This is like a bubbly waffle.

An employee works the “egg puff” station. This is like a bubbly waffle.

My dessert of black sesame paste and sweet tofu ($5.29), which is really just a sweet soup.

My dessert of black sesame paste and sweet tofu ($5.29), which is really just a sweet soup.

HK milk tea (left), which was nicely mixed with rich body, and a grass jelly ice (right).

HK milk tea (left), which was nicely mixed with rich body, and a grass jelly ice (right).

Dessert of fried sesame balls filled with black sesame paste called "Star of the Milky Way."

Dessert of fried sesame balls filled with black sesame paste called “Star of the Milky Way.”

Dessert Republic is found in an alley in downtown San Mateo along with a few other new restaurants spicing up the dining scene.

Dessert Republic is found in an alley in downtown San Mateo along with a few other new restaurants spicing up the dining scene.


2 Responses to San Mateo Crawl Ends at Dessert Republic

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Sounds like a great little alley to explore. You can get your fill of curry, then walk a few steps to satisfy your sweet tooth!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Good eyes Carolyn! You noticed that Curry Up Now has its new restaurant in that same alley.