Aldous Lau says that egg waffles (also known as bubble waffles) are one of the most popular street foods in Hong Kong, his hometown. Around since the 1950s, the trend has slowly been spreading across the globe, where the picturesque, honeycomb-shaped snacks are consumed throughout the day.
“People eat them all day long, in early morning on the way to school, for lunch, after school and during tea time, at dinner, and even after dinner,” Lau says.
Up until now, Cleveland has been surprisingly lacking in the treats, with Mason’s Creamery in Ohio City providing many locals with their first bites of the waffle. After noticing that dearth, Lau and his wife Alice opened Ball Ball Waffle
inside Asia Plaza (2999 Payne Ave.).
“We decided to stay in Cleveland and open a shop selling this traditional street food and drink,” Lau says. “Last year we were in the Asian Festival and we had the longest queue. We got a lot of exposure.”
The slim and sleek shop is bright, modern and open, with the Laus working in plain sight. The waffles start with an eggy pancake batter that is ladled into special waffle irons that form the characteristic bubble wrap-like appearance.
Both sweet and savory ($5-$6) options are available, with some coming naked while others feature cheese, chocolate or matcha and mochi.
“Our traditional is the original, but over time, people would add more and more ingredients, like chocolate chips, seaweed or salty egg,” explains Lau. “Here, we are trying the basic and most popular ones first.”
One bite and it’s easy to see why this craze has legs. The balls are ripped apart with a satisfying twist. A hot and crispy exterior gives way to an airy, chewy center. The waffles are warm, aromatic and comforting, a snack that plays just as well in the morning as it would after a long night out.
Wash it all down with a bracing cup of Hong Kong milk tea ($3), strong black tea softened and sweetened with some condensed and evaporated milk.
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