Anyone who has had a long time history with Hong Kong will know the name Fook Lam Moon as it is synonymous with upscale, luxurious, refined Cantonese cuisine. Back in the day, its main draw was dried seafood products such as sharks’ fin, abalone and conpoy (scallops) and while these still feature highly on its menu, we were here for the more traditional, every day dishes beloved by all.
I remember reviewing Fook Lam Moon back in the 90s when I was a contributor to the Hong Kong Tatler’s Best Restaurants, an annual guide book of the top dining establishments in Hong Kong. I had brought along Bernice that time and ironically, it is she who has brought me along for her review on this visit.
Of course, it’s been about 13 or 14 years since my last visit to Fook Lam Moon, but my parents were here recently with some friends and my mom raved about it, so I knew their quality and standard remained intact. Bernice had pre-ordered the Taro Duck (HK$660/US$84.60) as it was a specialty she was featuring and required 24 hour notice for its rather tenuous preparation.
We began our meal with the Daily Soup (HK$200/US$25.65/bowl), and on this day was dried vegetables with pork lung. Cantonese cuisine prides itself in its “old fire soups” which back in the day was cooked in a clay tureen over a charcoal fire. Of course, charcoal is no longer used but the soup still requires at least 5-6 hours of simmering to draw the richness of the ingredients out and into the exquisite broth.
When the daily soup is served in Hong Kong Cantonese restaurants, they also bring you a plate of the ingredients ladled from the pot just so you can see what went into it, and also, to eat if you so choose. Usually, I will pick at a piece of pork, but I never want to fill up before the dishes arrive.
Our first dish arrives and it is the delicious Roast Baby Pigeon (HK$80/US$ /each). The meat was succulent and the juices dripped down my hand when I tore the wing away from the body.
Each morsel I was about to put into my mouth is dipped into either the salt and pepper mixture or the lemon juice dipping sauce — both had its own distinctive flavor and did different things to enhance the pigeon. I could’ve eaten another pigeon if I thought it wouldn’t make me look like an absolutely pig.
The special order taro duck arrived next and it is a hunking portion served in a huge claypot casserole. We were both given one piece of the duck which was tender and so incredibly flavorful from being braised a lenghty period of time.
Taro is served on a separate platter and is soft and melt-in-your-mouth, but really needed sauce to help the natural dryness of the taro’s texture. A special bean sauce is what gives the duck its wonderful taste but between two people, it was an impossible dish to eat. It is meant for a table of 12 people to share and even so, may be very ambitious a feat to try to finish.
Stir-fried black bean bitter melon (HK$110/US$14) is hard to cook to perfection at home and is prepared stunningly here. The melon is tender with just a hint of bitterness. I had a brief chat with the manager who gave me some tips on how to make it at home.
My mother insisted I order steamed minced pork with salted fish (HK$250/US$32) when she heard I was dining here, and I’m glad I did. The meat patty is so soft and the salted fish gave it the best flavor combo — not for the uninitiated or faint-hearted — but I’ve been eaten this since I was a child and this brought back such nostalgia. Best eaten with hot steaming rice.
I had been discussing pomelo pith with someone the other day and how I’ve never had it done better than at Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong. What luck then to find out that they do one at Fook Lam Moon and of course I just HAD to order it. We were quite full but the manager told us he could prepare a small portion of it for us.
Braised pomelo rind with shrimp roe (HK$90/US$11.50) was indescribably orgasmic. Not only did it melt in my mouth but it was so delicately prepared that I regretted telling the manager we only wanted a small portion of it.
We had no room left by this time but agreed to sample some desserts anyway. Walnut cream (HK$50/US$6.40) and Almond Tea with Egg (HK$50/US$6.40) were unimpressive after the spectacular meal. Walnut cream is one of my favorite Chinese desserts and here, an abundance of thickeners were used to give it the consistency while using walnuts sparingly. I’m glad the fruit plate (HK$100/US$12.80) was more appealing.
At the end of the day, Fook Lam Moon’s 1 Michelin star is well-deserved. The Cantonese cuisine here is exquisitely prepared — maybe not aesthetically — but in terms of taste and the sheer precision in which it is executed.
Fook Lam Moon
35/45 Johnston Road
+852 2866 0663