Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Traditional Chinese Meal

Double-boiled winter melon soup with crab meat on top

Last night I was invited to have dinner at Fook Lam Moon in Tsim Sha Tsui with some guests from out of town who have known the Tsui family that started the restaurant for over two decades.

Chicken liver with Jinhua ham and pork
The last time I was there was many years ago and in the last several months it has suffered a beating in the English media as more foreigners complain about restaurants like Fook Lam Moon for serving shark's fin soup. Many gweilo have probably never been to the restaurant and so they don't realize the fine dining establishment serves many other interesting dishes that are more sustainable. There is also the added dilemma that if your customers want to eat shark's fin, can you say no?

But I digress. We didn't have any shark's fin at all -- instead we tried some Shun Tak dishes that few Hong Kong restaurants can cook these days. For example, the first dish was a silver dollar coin-sized "sandwich" of chicken liver, Jinhua ham, and fat and lean pork. For a small portion it was full of flavour, and a bit on the fatty side.

Chicken kidneys that had a smooth texture and delicate taste
Our next dish is considered a delicacy few restaurants in Hong Kong have. It's nicknamed "chicken testicles", but really it's chicken kidneys that's been chopped into fine bits and stirred with sugar, corn starch, eggs and soup stock. The concoction has to be stirred for a long time before it's set in the fridge and then cut into slices before being deep-fried -- without a batter. The end result is a slightly crunchy outer skin and a smooth as foie gras centre with very delicate flavours. Whoever thought of creating this dish was a culinary genius.

Another appetizer was "thousand layer mountain" poetically written on our menu, but it was really marinated pig's ears that were crunchy.

Frogs legs with Jinhua ham
The double-boiled winter melon soup was beautifully decorated with chunks of meaty fresh crab meat on top. Billed as a soup with "eight treasures", it had such ingredients as roast duck, loofah vegetable, mushrooms, fresh lotus seeds, chicken, frog leg and duck gizzard. It was the perfect soup for the hot and humid weather.

Next up was frogs legs that were chopped and stir-fried with spring onions, carrots and ginger and served with slices of Jinhua ham that had been breaded and fried. The Fook Lam Moon chefs consider Jinhua ham to be far superior than Yunnan ham due to the quality of the pigs.

Pigeon eggs with crab roe, crab meat and kale
Instead of chicken, we had a "flattened" roast duck that was actually butterfly cut and roasted. The skin is crispy, while the meat is lean and hardly fatty; that's because it's a rice-fed duck and is a different breed from those for Peking ducks. A unique dish one featuring pigeon eggs that were carefully steamed so that they were cooked, but not completely white. They were accompanied with fresh crab meat, bamboo piths, crab roe and kale.

The last dinner course was lotus leaf rice, that was very fragrant. The rice was first stir-fried with chicken, crab meat, winter bamboo shoots, roast duck, dried scallops, mushrooms and eggs before it was transferred into a giant fresh lotus leaf, wrapped and then steamed. The trick to this dish is making sure the rice doesn't get mushy and so the providence of the rice is important. For Fook Lam Moon, the rice for this dish is from Thailand, but it is only harvested once a season and is grown in high altitudes. Such is the sourcing of ingredients at this restaurant.

Walnut cakes... shaped like the nut
If that wasn't enough, there were several desserts to sample. One was a walnut cake that was actually shaped to look like a walnut; inside was a walnut paste with sesame seeds. Another was glutinous rice flour with peanut paste inside, wrapped in a leaf and then steamed. We also had double-boiled pear that was hollowed out and stuffed with whole white almonds cooked in a light juice.

Needless to say the portions weren't too big and while I was full, it was just right. The trek back to Hong Kong side also helped with digesting the memorable meal.

Fook Lam Moon
53-59 Kimberley Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
2366 0286

1 comment:

  1. it makes my mouth water flowing over, particularly memorable -it was gratis.