Within the Walls Dessert Bar serves up HK vibes, inspired by owner’s first-hand experience in Kowloon

By Sarah Chua June 26, 2024
Within the Walls Dessert Bar serves up HK vibes, inspired by owner’s first-hand experience in Kowloon
Photos: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere
  • Within The Walls is a new dessert bar in Katong that serves traditional Chinese desserts and shaved ice
  • It has been meticulously decorated to resemble the infamous Kowloon Walled City that stood in Hong Kong in the 1980s
  • A father-son duo, who’s been behind a few other F&B businesses, run the space

Hong Kong-themed food spots in Singapore are dime a dozen, from retro-themed Hey Kee, to the Wong Kar Wai-inspired Cha Chaan Teng and the new Coi Je cafe in Chinatown — there’s just something about this city that Singaporeans can’t quite get enough of, even though we claim many similarities.

Joining the fray is the newest kid on the block, Within The Walls Dessert Bar, a retro-themed dessert spot in East Coast that’s been outfitted to look like Kowloon, Hong Kong, in the 1980s. 

Behind the walls 

For those not in the know: In the 1980s, an area known as the Kowloon Walled City stood within Kowloon. It was extremely densely populated — housed refugees among many others — and was purported to have been controlled by triads back then. 

It has since been demolished, though pictures of its closely packed enclaves and caged balconies still live on the Internet to this day.

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
Both Henry (left) and Maverick (right) are usually at the shop, for now, chatting with customers. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The place, as closed off as it may have been to the rest of the world, was no stranger to businessman Henry Mok, 56, the father of Maverick Mok, 31, who owns and runs Within The Walls. 

Henry recalls how he stayed briefly with an aunt in the walled city in his early teens. He said: “You see cages, you see people sleeping inside. You didn’t see such things in Singapore (then)… it was so scary.” 

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
Henry relates his childhood experiences in Kowloon. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Despite the initial apprehension, he grew to become fond of the estate, having formed strong friendships there on his annual visits to his aunt and enjoyed the food he could get there (“It’s cheap and most of the food manufacturers were located there.”). 

It is this nostalgia that fuelled the concept of this dessert bar, but partly also because the team has adopted his aunt’s recipe for some of the desserts, namely the steamed egg pudding (S$6.90) and the sesame paste (S$5.90). 

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The dessert bar, so-named because the place sells beer and whiskey alongside traditional Chinese desserts and shaved ice, officially opened on Jun 15, to much fanfare.

While Maverick handles the ins and outs of Within The Walls, Henry, being the enthusiastic and supportive father, planned a light-up block party on the launch weekend. 

Henry also helps arrange the live band performances that continue to take place every Friday and Saturday evening.

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
Prior to the launch, Maverick did short stints under dessert chefs to better understand what goes on behind the scenes. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Maverick, who used to work in a marketing agency, was also behind the social-media-famous Ang Mo Kio coffee shop Food Haus with his father. The space had garnered attention for flashy neon signages and IG-worthy corners not typically seen in a kopitiam. 

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
The latest addition to its decor. Photo: Within The Walls/Instagram

Perhaps it isn’t too surprising that Within The Walls, too, was crafted to be just as — if not even more — photogenic, complete with its most recent addition: A retractable jade-green iron pull gate commonly found in older Hong Kong shops. 

Even the walls, they tell us, were meticulously hand-scraped to achieve the rugged, dingy vibes akin to the Kowloon quarters of yesteryear.

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
The hand-scraped walls. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Trying Within The Wall’s menu 

Right before we dug into the desserts, Henry caveats that their shaved-ice dessert isn’t quite like the others we’d get outside — he eschews typical Chinese desserts as they’re usually too sweet for him. 

The duo spent close to half a year trying to finetune the ingredients for the shaved ice.

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
Mango Bo Jio, a shaved ice dessert with mango shaved ice, ice cream and mango cubes. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The result is a healthier shaved-ice dessert that uses fresh fruits and natural sugars and tastes significantly less sweeter on the palate. 

Aside from trying the shaved iced dessert that’s listed on the menu — the Mango Bo Jio (S$14.80) — we customised a snow ice dessert (S$12.80 for one base, one nectar and two toppings) on Maverick’s recommendation. We opted for strawberry shaved ice and passion fruit nectar, topped with strawberry flesh and a chocolate drizzle (S$12.80)

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
A customised shaved ice, or snow ice, dish. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

Apart from tasting less sweet as promised, the shaved ice tasted just like fresh fruit, almost like the fruit itself was incorporated within the shaved ice. The shaved ice also took longer to melt — perfect for slow eaters (like myself) or for those particularly hot days. 

We particularly loved the steamed egg pudding (S$6.90), made from a time-tested recipe from Henry’s aunt herself. It reminded me exactly of a version I had at the famous Hong Kong breakfast spot Australia Dairy Company, only that I could enjoy it without fearing I’d get scolded by the infamously fierce staff any moment. 

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
This steamed egg pudding tasted just like HK. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

The pudding is smooth and delicately sweet — some puddings tend to taste mostly gelatinous, or of sugar, but thankfully this was neither. You can also tell premium milk was used, with the end product being rich and creamy, yet not overly cloying. 

To add variety to the mix, we also opted for some bar bites, in the form of these shrimp balls — there’s lychee (S$13.80), wasabi (S$14.80) and truffle (S$14.80) currently. Served with mayonnaise on the side, these shrimp balls provided the right dose of crunch and savouriness. 

Within The Walls Dessert Bar Katong
Bar bites at Within The Walls. Photo: Abdul Rahim Anwar/HungryGoWhere

With the space garnering attention on social media, we hear it tends to fill up quickly on evenings (post-dinner, as it is located around a few famous food spots such as Bei-Ing Dimsum Club), and on the weekends. 

However, it’s still pretty chill and spacious on weekday afternoons — so if an uninterrupted shot for the ‘gram and some leisurely desserts is what you’re after, then you know when’s best to head down! 

Keen on more places to explore? Check out the latest entrants to Singapore’s Michelin Guide for 2024

Do explore the GrabFood Dine Out for awesome deals.

You can also book a ride to Within The Walls Dessert Bar for some traditional desserts and shaved ice. 

Within The Walls Dessert Bar

378 East Coast Road
Nearest MRT station: Marine Terrace
Open: Monday to Sunday (11am to 11pm)

378 East Coast Road
Nearest MRT station: Marine Terrace
Open: Monday to Sunday (11am to 11pm)

Sarah Chua-HungryGoWhere

Sarah Chua


Sarah is constantly seeking out new coffee spots and cocktail bars around the world, and should probably drink more water while at it.

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