Day Two, Part Three, Meal Three: Chiu Chow cuisine, one I have yet to find in the US. I’ve waited 8 years to eat this meal people! Maybe it’s because I can’t find this type of cuisine in the US, or maybe I just love it. Who knows?
I met my ex-roommates Juliana and Bernard and their son Liam (yes, dad is an Irishman) for dinner. I had told Juliana I wanted Chiu Chow food and so we came to this unassuming restaurant in Kennedy Town to satiate my craving.
Chiu Chow restaurants are always an interesting sight. They display all their seafood specialties either behind a glass window or just out in the open so you get a clear idea of what you’re ordering.
The glaring lights of the restaurant and the hustle and bustle of the diners put a smile on my face (except when it came time to take photos). Now THIS is what Hong Kong is all about. Clattering of plates, the din of the chatter and the plates of food moving around so quickly it made my head spin.
As Juliana and I went through the menu, the kids took no time in bonding via their Nintendo DSi and DSxL while the good Irishman was on his second glass of Tsingtao beer.
He was also chomping on peanuts and dried tofu cubes (the little dishes offered in Chinese restaurants may look like they are complimentary but it is included in the “tea charge” which varies in price from restaurant to restaurant and is charged per person whether you order tea or not).
The first dish to arrive was the ubiquitous soy braised goose which is the foundation of any Chiu Chow meal. I’ve been craving this for almost a decade and Juliana ordered it with bone intact. You can also order boneless with a plate of only sliced goose atop braised tofu.
A dipping sauce of vinegar, chili and garlic accompanied and I like to dip my goose into it before placing into my mouth. The acidity cuts the fattiness of the goose and gives it a delightful tartness bringing out the flavors of the goose.
The pig’s stomach, pickled mustard greens soup was a new one for me because I could never bring myself to consume innards, but hey, I’m here, and I’m willing to give anything a try. I asked the guy taking our order if it was gamey and offally but he assured me it wasn’t.
And he was right. there was enough black pepper to kill whatever pungent aromas the pig’s stomach was emitting. The sour mustard greens was a good contrast to the very flavorful soup. I passed on the slices of stomach swimming in my bowl though.
We ordered the satay beef with gai lan (Chinese broccoli) for the kids but it was so tasty I sneaked in a piece or two for myself. Liam had his ‘washed’ in a bowl of tea, but my little gourmand ate it and proclaimed it not spicy enough.
Besides the goose, chicken with crispy vegetables is my other favorite. For some reason I can never remember its name in Chinese and every time I want it, I will say “the chicken with the crispy veggies”. My friends always understand what I’m asking for though. Each bite-sized morsel of chicken is perfectly seasoned and then flash fried to give it a nice exterior while the inside remains nice and moist.
Green beans with ground pork was so delicious I couldn’t stop eating it. The salt level was perfect for me and it is perfect over steamed rice.
Deep fried whitebait is a favorite among both the young and the old. Liam called it “french fries” and even with that moniker he couldn’t get Sebastian to consume more than the one he picked up for taste.
Ho tsai jook (baby oyster rice porridge) is so-so. I had to pick out the oysters because I am allergic, but even this mollusk was not able to add enough flavor to the rice soup. The ground pork helped some, but this is meant to be eaten in place of steamed rice, so either way, it was okay.
There is a bunch of other Chiu Chow dishes we didn’t get to this time around. My hope is to have another Chiu Chow meal before I leave, probably the last week I’m here since I know it will be few and far between before I get it again.
Tak Kee Chiu Chow Restaurant
G/F, No 3, Belcher’s Street