Korean Sweet Potato Buns: Hana & Thyme, GMBB Complex

July 14, 2020

Go Goguma: Hana & Thyme, a florist-cafe in KL's GMBB Mall, becomes the first to bring sweet potato buns, one of South Korea's viral culinary smashes of 2020, to Malaysia. These are beautifully baked, resembling real sweet potatoes, stuffed with genuine Japanese sweet potato.

Novelties have a hit-or-miss record for how they actually taste, but Hana & Thyme's sweet potato buns are equally amusing and appetising, as pleasurable for the palate as they are pretty to the eyes.

Sampled straight from the oven, the buns prove crisp to the bite, yielding to a thin, glutinous layer of baked rice flour, packed with plenty of paste made in-house with premium sweet potatoes, earthy and aromatic. You'll find sweet potatoes both inside and out - the dusting for the mochi-like dough is sweet potato powder, while the filling comprises more than half a sweet potato, with no artificial additives (the sweetness is mainly from the potatoes, buoyed a bit by brown sugar). Even the skin is intriguing to the touch, with a coarseness evocative of real potatoes.

The buns (RM6.90 each, for the introductory price) are ideally consumed at Hana & Thyme, paired with a sweet potato latte. Delivery is also available; Hana & Thyme currently bakes these only twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, since the preparation is relatively laborious. At least 100 buns are available on either day; you can order for delivery (RM8 within most of the Klang Valley; RM15 for farther, like Putrajaya) or pre-book if you plan to visit.

Beyond the buns, Hana & Thyme is orth exploring in the very unique GMBB complex, a design hub "built for creativity." Founders Josephine and Marcus are experienced in flowers and food respectively; the venue offers flowers of various varieties (fresh, dried or preserved), alongside a hot menu and grocery ingredients, including frozen meat and vegan patties.

This might be a modestly sized and staffed kitchen, but its capabilities exceed expectations. 

The Japanese cold capellini (RM23.90) is lovely, perfectly al dente, potently fragrant with truffle oil, dressed with a light Japanese kombu sauce, jazzed up with pan-seared scallops, fried dried shrimp and fish roe for umami-rich seafood notes. We'd happily have this one again.

Salted egg pastas might sound stereotypical by now, but Hana & Thyme's (RM17.90) is notable for its luscious use of bona fide salted egg, infusing a natural richness in both texture and flavour for this pan-fried spaghetti, deftly balanced with mushrooms, bird's eye chillies and a kaffir lime leaf garnish.

Rice bowls also abound; highlights include the beef tapsilog rice, Hana & Thyme's take on the soy-based Filipino favourite, well-proportioned again for a satisfying meal (RM14.90).

For kids, the playful hit is the SpongeBob-inspired Krabby Patty (RM12.90) - you'll find three tall sliders on this plate, with three hues of crunchy buns (white representing milk, red for yeast powder, and brown for cocoa), sandwiching a house-made crab meat patty that's fleshy and fresh.

Cooling latte-like beverages extend the fun, spanning the Sweet Dream (RM13.90; laced with purple sweet potato, butterfly pea, milk and cream) to the Sleeping Beauty (RM13.90; rose with dark chocolate, milk and cream).

Many thanks to Hana & Thyme for a tantalising lunchtime treat.

Hana & Thyme

GM-1-37, 38, 39, Kompleks GMBB, 1st Floor, Jalan Robertson, Kuala Lumpur. Open Thursday-Tuesday, 11am-6pm. Tel: 012-925-7964

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