Hong Kong-inspired bubble egg waffles are just that — they are made of eggs, but instead of indentations, the waffle’s surface is a checkerboard of bubbles held together by a very thin framework of grilled batter. Think of belly buttons — you’ve got your innies and your outies: Belgian and American waffles are innies and these are outies. (Or if you like, think of them as edible bubble wrap.) Of uncertain post-WW2 origins in Hong Kong, where they are known as gai daan zai in Cantonese, they are now arguably that city’s most popular street food. (Three years ago HK was the scene of the world’s first bubble egg festival.)
In days gone by Hong Kongers were content to eat them plain, with only a little sugar in the batter for flavoring, but that’s all changed once the dish escaped to Chinatowns around the world. Today, not only can the waffles themselves be made of Matcha green tea or double chocolate batters base, but they have been drafted into much the same role American waffle cones serve — curled up and propped upright, they house fillings both sweet and savory. In the savory category, the Bellaire location offers chicken wings (spicy or mild), chicken, or bacon and cheese, each of which are accompanied by fries (waffle-cut, of course). Ranch, Cajun mayo, and honey mustard dips are available as dips.
However, Bubble Egg is more oriented toward dessert waffles, and here you can either let your imagination run wild or order up one of their house signatures, ranging from piña colada to bubble Oreo (with rainbow Mochi and condensed milk), with others based on blueberries, strawberries, pistachios, bananas and pecans, or mangos. Each comes with a sweet sauce, and to all that you add your choice of a scoop (or more for $2.75) of one of their 15 flavors of ice cream, which include the usual suspects as well as Asian-influenced concoctions including Matcha tea, Thai tea, jasmine tea and mango sorbet. I ordered the piña colada and loved it but would have preferred it a bit stripped down (the chocolate sauce was unnecessary) and chosen a different ice cream. Thai tea’s subtle flavor was drowned out by the cacophony of the bright fresh pineapple, coconut flakes and chocolate and soaked up by the wonderfully warm and fluffy waffle. In fact, I am not sure if it needed either chocolate sauce or ice cream at all.
But that’s the thing — I could have had it that way if I weren’t so lazy. You are free to build your own Egg Waffle any way you see fit, from a list of filling and toppings that includes all those mentioned plus wacky extras like Fruity Pebbles cereal, jelly beans, Animal crackers, and pop rocks-type candies as well as standards like boba, marshmallow, or sprinkles. On the savory side seaweed is another option in the build-your-own department, as are Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which seem now as ubiquitous across all local cuisines as once were croutons. Other sauces include Nutella and whipped cream. Eating them can be messy — each little egg panel is only tenuously connected to its neighbors, so beware waffle-shrapnel when digging in.
I sample one each of Bubble Egg’s of their fruit teas and their mocktails. Both were refreshing and delicious, and while I very slightly preferred the flavor of the orange lychee green tea to that of the mint strawberry cocktail, that second drink’s carbonation factor (half a can of club soda) pushed it narrowly atop its rival beverage. Bubble Egg also serves slushies, including mango and strawberry lychee along with a bevy of Mexican-influenced concoctions including mint limonada (lime-based; regular or spicy, with chamoy and Tajín); pineapple (same two variants as limonada, though sans mint); and the increasingly ubiquitous mangonada.
All good things come to those who wait — on the occasion of our visit, a sole employee was taking orders and preparing same, and these drinks and egg waffle treats are fairly complex affairs. So catch up on your social media or fire up your smartphone games and get ready for eggy bubbles of delight.
9188-B Bellaire Blvd
Mon-Thu:12:00 – 10:30
Sat-Sun:11:00 – 11:00