A dessert from Hong Kong: Mango pomelo sago

Society & Culture

A trust dessert that is fruity, creamy, and not too sweet.

I’m always a dessert person, but I’ve found that many American desserts are too heavy in the summer heat. Today I want to introduce you to one of my favorite Hongkongese desserts: the mango pomelo sago. I’m sure you’ll get hooked by this fruity, creamy, lightly sweet and chilled dessert.

Wherever you visit a dessert shop in China, the mango pomelo sago is a safe choice. You can never go wrong with it. Even if many restaurants start adding miscellaneous ingredients to lure new customers, such as ice cream, pudding, or jelly, the core flavor remains the same.

During my college days in China, the Hongkongese dessert shop Honeymoon Dessert (满记甜品 mǎn jì tián pǐn) outside of campus was one of my go-to spots during the summer. The dessert chain entered the mainland market in 2005 with a new concept of “Hong Kong-style dessert” (港式甜品 gǎng shì tián pǐn). Within 10 years, it has opened more than 320 stores in mainland China. Mango pomelo sago is one of their signature items.

It has a beautiful Chinese name — 杨枝甘露 yáng zhī gān lù — referring to dropping manna from a willow branch, a well-known Buddhist concept that is believed to bring happiness and luck to people.

You may not be that familiar with sago (西米 xī mǐ), but you’ve probably heard of tapioca, known also as boba pearls. Though they have different starch compositions, they can be used interchangeably in most cases. I’ll be using sago in this recipe, but feel free to choose either one. They both add a spongy, slippery, and playful texture to the dessert.

Pomelo (柚子 yòu zǐ) is a citrus fruit similar to grapefruit. It serves as a decoration and adds a burst of freshness to the dish. You can use grapefruit as a substitute, like I did, or just skip it if you don’t have it on hand. I prefer the bright color and slight bitterness of grapefruit, which goes really well with the sweetness of mango.


Serves 2


30 minutes


  • 1/4 cup sago
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 big ripe mangoes, peeled and diced, reserve half for garnish (frozen mango chunks also work)
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 grapefruit, sliced



1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add sago pearls, cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2. While the pearls are cooking, blend half of the diced mangoes until smooth. Pour half of the puree into a glass cup.

3. Turn off the heat when the sago pearls are almost transparent but still have small white spots in the middle. Let it sit for 15 minutes until sago pearls are completely transparent.

4. Rinse sago pearls under cold running water. Drain the pearls and pour half in the cup.

5. Mix 1/2 cup of coconut cream and 1 cup of whole milk well. Pour half on top.

6. Top with mango chunks and garnish with grapefruit. Repeat with the remaining.

7. Serve chilled.

final result1final result 2

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