And with good reason: a loaf of crusty on the outside, chewy and airy on the inside sourdough bread is a wonder to behold and savour.

It does mean it’s getting harder for sourdough artisans to stand out though. Some have expanded their repertoire to include sourdough croissants, whilst others make really fantastic Hainanese breads using sourdough as the base.

One online baker is bucking the trend by shoring up their sourdough offerings with more atypical treats: Hong Kong style polo buns and Taiwanese pineapple shortcakes.


BrElla Bakery is run by former graphic designer Bryan Chong and Hong Kong-born Ella Leong.
BrElla Bakery is run by former graphic designer Bryan Chong and Hong Kong-born Ella Leong.

BrElla Bakery’s polo buns have that unmistakable pineapple-shaped criss-cross crust and are perfect when served hot with a thick slab of cold butter.

It’s a walk down memory lane for those of us who remember enjoying these at cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong.

Their pineapple shortcakes remind one of those lightly baked cubes you’d find in Taiwan. The crust is buttery (which is what “short” means in baking parlance; that a high proportion of fat to flour is used) and the filling sweet as a lover’s kiss.


BrElla Bakery was founded by Bryan Chong and Ella Leong. The couple, who are in their late 30s, are deeply passionate about food.

Taiwanese pineapple shortcakes or 'fènglí sū' in Mandarin.
Taiwanese pineapple shortcakes or 'fènglí sū' in Mandarin.

Leong, who hails originally from Hong Kong, says, “Bryan is the one who loves cooking, baking and satisfying my food cravings.”

The idea of going further and running a business first took hold in 2015 when Chong, who is a graphic designer by trade, took a barista course in New Zealand.

He recalls, “With the skills I acquired, opening a minimalist and cosy café for people to chill, relax and enjoy a good cup of coffee became my dream.”

That dream stayed a dream until Chong lost his job at the end of 2019. Seeing this as an opportunity, Leong encouraged him to take a leap of faith to become a full-time baker: “I told him, ‘We only live once. Don’t hesitate to chase your dream when you have a chance’.”

Shaping sourdough (left) into all manner of breads including focaccia (right).
Shaping sourdough (left) into all manner of breads including focaccia (right).

Such deep trust and unconditional love inspired the name of their business – BrElla is the combination of their names, Bryan and Ella. Chong shares, “I wanted to make Ella happy by making a variety of dishes for her such as the Taiwanese pineapple shortcake, and it became our first signature product.”

As a lean start up with no prior F&B (food and beverage) industry experience, it has been a journey of trial and error for the duo. Leong recalls, “Bryan took the time to test different recipes to keep the authentic flavour of Taiwanese pineapple shortcakes. We source some great quality pineapple locally to support our Malaysian farmers.”

Known as fènglí sū in Mandarin, BrElla Bakery’s Taiwanese pineapple shortcakes were well received during Chinese New Year, validating their insistence on following the traditional method to make their pineapple filling from scratch.

Its shape is also instantly iconic – more of a cube rather than a round tart or roll. Leong notes, “Our Taiwanese pineapple shortcake has a good balance of sweet and sour and chewable moist chunks and fibre of the pineapple and it’s covered with a scrumptious and buttery shell.”

Diversifying their offerings with burnt cheesecake.
Diversifying their offerings with burnt cheesecake.

Despite that early success, they realised that focusing solely on Taiwanese pineapple shortcakes might not be sustainable for their business in the long run, given its seasonal popularity.

Chong explains, “We started to think about the next step. Since Ella is from Hong Kong, she is always searching for a good polo bun to ease her homesickness. Nothing could really satisfy her craving so I decided to work on making our own polo buns.”

Known as boh loh bao in Cantonese, BrElla Bakery’s version is soft albeit slightly denser on the inside and topped with a crunchy, crumbly crust. It was a huge hit during their recent two-day pop-up store, where some customers dropped by two days in a row to get their hot polo bun with cold butter fix.

Leong says, “We have been selling our polo buns online for a while, without the butter. To serve this authentic Hong Kong experience with butter, we did it ‘offline’ during our pop-up where we can make sure the ‘hot and cold’ combination is just right when we put the cold butter in the warm polo bun.”

Polo buns are best served hot, with cold butter (left). Sweet pineapple filling in the Taiwanese shortcakes (right).
Polo buns are best served hot, with cold butter (left). Sweet pineapple filling in the Taiwanese shortcakes (right).

Today BrElla Bakery is a full-fledged online bread artisan offering sourdough breads, sourdough bagels and even sourdough focaccia. Chong says, “For our sourdough, the sourness is more to the mild side because we understand not everyone is fond of extra tangy bread loaf and we think it would be more family-friendly too, particularly the families with children.”

To keep customers engaged, the couple continues to develop and evolve their menu. Leong says, “We have added some items for those with a sweet tooth, such as cookies and burnt cheesecakes. We also noticed people are striving for a more healthy diet during the lockdown so we explored different sourdough recipes such as low sugar or no oil.”

Next, BrElla Bakery plans to expand beyond their online-only presence and participate in more physical pop-up stores. Chong says, “We do believe real interaction with the customers is vital to the success of a company. We are aiming to bring new products to surprise our supporters at our pop-up store so they have something to look forward to.”

As they strengthen their branding, the couple is also looking for opportunities to supply to various cafés and grocery stores, collaborating with other F&B businesses on crossover products and customising gift sets for corporate and private events.

But back to that barista-fuelled dream; Chong hasn’t forgotten it nor given up. He quips, “Of course, our ultimate goal is to own our very own café! Hopefully soon!”

BrElla Bakery

To order, WhatsApp 011-39904814.