Friday, 19 July 2019

Old School Chiu Chow Cuisine

The decor in Lok Hau Fook hasn't changed in over six decades!

This evening my relatives and I headed to Kowloon City to eat at one of their favourite haunts, Lok Hau Fook, a Chiu Chow restaurant that dates back 65 years. The decor inside has hardly changed, one of the walls features a giant dragon and phoenix, with a double happiness sign in between them for weddings, though probably no one celebrates their nuptials here anymore.

I heard some Hong Kong films have used this restaurant as a setting for scenes involving triads -- who knew they liked to hang out in old school Chiu Chow restaurants?

In front deep-fried crab mousse and shrimp balls in rear
On a Friday night, the restaurant is almost full and we take our seat -- we get cold very fast from the air conditioning and the fans blowing the cold air.

There's a lot of dishes to choose from, and my uncle already has in mind what he'd like to eat. He hasn't been here for many years and reels off some of his favourites to the waiter.

Pretty soon the lo sui duck arrives with some vinegar and it looks overcooked by it's not -- very tender and juicy, and flavourful from the master sauce. Underneath the thin slices of marinated duck are pieces of tofu that are equally delicious.

We also order some seasonal vegetables and choose chun choi, a Chiu Chow vegetable that is a skinny version of choi sum that was cooked in a broth together with chunks of radish and pork rib bits and ginger for flavour.

Super plump baby oysters in a rice soup with pork
Then came some deep-fried items -- a ball that was a combination of shrimp mousse mixed with finely diced water chestnut, and the a rectangular package of crab meat mousse. Both were so lightly deep-fried that their texture was very soft inside, the hot oil obviously fresh.

Probably one of my favourites is the baby oyster congee. The plump oysters are practically poached in the rice soup along with chunks of minced pork, Chinese ham and mushroom. We each had seconds of this giant tureen.

Another interesting Chiu Chow specialty are dumplings where the wrapper is actually made of a very thin fried egg white, and inside the filling is diced chicken, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots, and tied  together by a thin piece of chive topped with shrimp roe. This is such an interesting dish especially in terms of execution; interestingly it tastes of butter, and the bamboo shoots inside are a nice textural highlight.

Dumpling wrappers made of fried egg white are impressive
We were almost full -- but not before we tried some desserts. First up was wok-fried taro covered in sugar -- this is very difficult to execute, as the taro needs to be constantly moving in the hot wok otherwise the sugar on top will burn. Here the slices of taro were practically white with some scallion bits.

Another was a soup of green beans with some translucent jelly cubes. Not a favourite, but a fantastic finish was a taro pudding, again constantly stirred in the wok which is challenging because the grounded taro is so sticky. The end result is a very smooth and sweet hot pudding that's practically screaming to be called comfort food. The small bowl looks deceiving, but really one or two spoonfuls are all you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.

In the end our bill came to just under HK$1,000 for four. We will surely be back again as my uncle already began thinking about what to order next time...

Stir-fried slices of taro covered in sugar is difficult to make
Lok Hau Fook
1-3 Hau Wong Road
Kowloon City
2382 7408

1 comment:

  1. I love Lo Hau Fook -- and yes, it's a famous movie location; with film buffs particularly associating it with Johnnie To's "The Mission". Johnnie To seems to like shooting in Kowloon City restaurants. There's a hotpot plcae in the area that also is famous because of being featured in one of his crime films!