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‘Dirty’ food trend spreading fast in China

August 01, 2018

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‘Dirty bun’ which debuted the Chinese market back in 2017, is essentially a chocolate croissant mounded with rich chocolate, inside and outside.
‘Dirty bun’ which debuted the Chinese market back in 2017, is essentially a chocolate croissant mounded with rich chocolate, inside and outside.

WITH a “horrible” name though, the trend of “dirty food” inspired by an original “dirty bun” pastry, is spreading fast from Chinese capital city Beijing to many parts of the country. The hot idea has even found ground in such other countries as Singapore and Malaysia.

Referring to the plethora of ingredients and the mess it can make, restaurants and tea shops have rushed to make all things dirty — from “dirty boba tea” to “dirty pizza”.

The beginning of the trend — the dirty bun

The “dirty” story all begins at the “dirty bun” which debuted market in 2017.

It’s essentially a chocolate croissant mounded with rich chocolate, inside and outside. The layers upon layers within the airy and soft pastry are slathered in chocolate cream and custard. Additional chocolate ganache also glazes the outside of the bun and then it’s finally dusted with a generous heaping of cocoa powder.

In Chinese, the name literally means “dirty bread”. The name not only refers to how it looks, but also the mess it creates when you take a bite.

The chocolate melts in your hands in no time, with every bite blowing puffs of chocolate powder off the top, causing it to fly in the air, and likely onto your face and clothes. Like a good sandwich, the pastry oozes chocolate with every bite, no matter how skillful you are at handling it.

The pastry was first introduced by a Beijing bakery located in the heart of the city’s famous business zone, Sanlitun, in 2017. At its peak, people waited for hours for the chocolate mess. There were always endless lines, as there were only a certain number baked every day.

With success, the trend started to spread to other bakeries and tea shops who created their own versions of the “dirty bread”.

It also triggered the sharing the stylish “muddy face” photos on social media, with fingers and faces covered with chocolate next to a “dirty bun”.

Dirty craze successor — dirty boba milk tea

A Shanghai based tea shop took advantage of the trend by pairing their own version of the dirty bun with the “dirty boba milk tea”.

The shop’s “a bite of pastry, a sip of tea” slogan was a perfect match for the food trend. Over 2,000 cups of the “dirty tea” are sold on average every day, causing the brand to explode with 14 stores opening in a year.

Unlike its predecessor, the drink didn’t actually make you dirty at all. It was essentially “black sugar milk tea with boba”. The soul of the “dirty tea” was the amber pattern that black sugar left on the cup wall.

The boba in the drink is first dipped into the thick fried black sugar made on-site, and then milk is poured directly into the cup. People have to shake the cup before taking a sip, with the thick black sugar leaving a unique mark on the cup wall.

Other well-known brands including Heytea and Sungtea, have all managed to release their variation of “dirty tea” in no time, joining the fierce war over the food trend.

What’s next?

Following the popularity of the “dirty bun” and “dirty tea”, a carnival of “dirty foods” have been unleashed across the food and beverage industry. CGTN rounded up some of the latest to take a crack at the trend:

‘Dirty cake’

On the outside, the “dirty cake” is all black, but inside it’s filled with different layers. Crispy chocolate anchors the cake, with raspberry and cheese fillings, and then finally topped with herb jelly.

‘Dirty ice’

Usually featuring black sugar and popular ingredients like jelly, boba and pudding, “dirty ice” comes in all forms including ice cream and smoothies.

‘Dirty coffee’

The dirty family has expanded to include fusion cuisine including “dirty coffee” and “dirty pizza”. The caffeinated tree comes with a generous topping of whipped cream, chocolate ganache, and chocolate, making it similar to an upgraded macchiato.

‘Dirty pizza’

Dirty pizza has both sweet and salty variations. Besides the ones with classic chocolate flavors, one of the sweet “dirty pizzas” was made of bamboo charcoal dough, topping with hazelnut spread, cheese and marshmallow. The salty variation comes with squid ink dough, with seaweed, seafood, cheese and an egg on top.

—China Daily

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2018