TEASPOON: GREEN THANIDA RAKVONGTHAI & SENI LIMPOON
Hongkongers have had an obsession with Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese desserts over the years, and though there is an appetite for Thai desserts, there are very few Thai dessert stores in Hong Kong, and even rarer are Thai bakers.
Founded by Green Thanida Rakvongthai and Seni Limpoon late last year, Teaspoon offers a taste of Thailand in the form of young coconut cakes and tarts, pandan coconut cakes and Thai milk tea cakes, as well as Western desserts like cheesecakes, cupcakes, tarts and brownies. We meet at Rakvongthai’s apartment in Sheung Wan, a cosy space where she whips up her creations.
In their 30s, Rakvongthai works as a landscape designer, while Limpoon is an interior designer; they moved to Hong Kong in 2006 and 2005 respectively. “We actually went to the same architectural school in Bangkok but we only met here, as there’s a very small community,” says Rakvongthai. “I tried Seni’s brownies and I was amazed – I asked him to teach me how to make them. I love cooking, but I never really baked. From there, I learnt the basics and really enjoyed it!”
Frustrated with the lack of desserts using ingredients like Thai milk tea and fresh young coconut, the two founders slowly started to create new recipes for friends, who began to request them. “We wanted to do something personal, something new to Hong Kong and something we both like to eat,” says Limpoon. “We realised this could actually be a business on the side, and it would be fun to be more professional.”
They manage Teaspoon between their day jobs, baking during the nights and weekends in their respective home kitchens. “We can usually manage, but sometimes we have to turn orders away,” sighs Limpoon. “We insist that we explain it to our customers, who have all been supportive. The great thing about being home bakers is that you can build a very nice relationship, unlike in a shop where it’s very impersonal.” They play to their strengths, with Rakvongthai preferring to make the Thai desserts and leaving Limpoon to work his magic with the Western styles. “We always work together on big orders though,” says Rakvongthai.
Another element that they are adamant about is using fresh, natural ingredients and not making overly sweet cakes. “We don’t like to waste. You can see how all the ingredients are used throughout the cake, nothing is there purely for decoration – as designers we like to keep our aesthetic quite clean,” explains Limpoon. “But if your design is so elaborate, and it gets thrown out then what’s the point? Our designs are simple and a little bit rustic.”
Developing the recipes took a while, but Limpoon insists that it just takes time and practice. “I used to bake brownies from a Betty Crocker box, and then I gradually taught myself how to make them from scratch.” Finding a recipe for their coconut cake, however, took a while: “It’s pretty common in Thailand, but what we tried we found too heavy. We had to develop a perfect sponge recipe and ended up using fresh whipped cream as a topping.” The result is an airy and fluffy cake that doesn’t compromise on the coconut taste – it hits you in every bite.
They would like to supply restaurants or cafes in the future and get a joint kitchen, but they aren’t in a rush. Packaged simply in brown boxes stamped with their logo, the pair has succeeded in giving Hong Kong an alternative style of desserts, and will continue to do so. “The biggest compliment for us is when Thai people tell us they love our cakes!” says Limpoon. “It’s great when we hear what our customers think – it gives us the motivation to go forward.”
See teaspoonhk.com; follow @teaspoon_hk