It’s time to post about food – and anyone who knows me, knows that food is very important to me! I’ve had some great foods over the last days, so let me try and summarise what I had:
Char siu is the typical barbecued meat that you see hanging in many restaurant windows. It’s often pork – and you get small slices of it on a bed of rice, with some vegetables (morning glory being the most common one). Char siu is one of the classical Cantonese dishes, and so far I must have had it more than five times already (within three weeks!). It’s really nice, and because it’s not with sauce, it does not feel heavy/fatty. You just have to make sure you get lean meat, or leave the fatty bits…
According to Wikipedia, “Char siu” literally means “fork burn/roast”(Char being fork (both noun and verb) and siu being burn/roast) after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire.
The meat, typically a shoulder cut of domestic pork (although in ancient times it was also used to cook wild boar or other available meats), is seasoned with a mixture of honey, five-spice powder, fermented tofu (red), dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sherry or rice wine, and sometime with red food colouring. Char siu is typically consumed with starch, whether inside a bun (cha siu baau, with noodles (cha siu mein), or with rice (cha siu fan).
I’ve had Char siu in a couple of places, but the one where it tasted best was also the most popular one: Ser Wong Fun (next to the mid-levels escalator in Central) – an 60-year-old establishment from her parents with old-style dishes.
These include Chinese Double-Boiled Soup, according to the menu also a snake soup, and I’ve seen people eating soups where pig feet still swam in the bowl (yuck!). The place is so traditional, you share a table with other people, no one speaks English (our colleague ordered the food for us all) and they bring the dishes out once they are ready, for everyone to share. You can’t book a table and you just have to wait (long queues!) for a table to empty.
Ser Wong Fun
30 Cochrane Street, Central
Opening Hours: 11am – 10:30pm
Telephone: 2543 1032
This is a great winter dish – it’s a Chinese fondue or steamboat. A stew consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table. Typical hot pot dishes include thinly sliced meat , leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, dumplings and seafood.
There are special hot pot restaurants all across Hong Kong – so far I’ve not been to one, but I’ve been to Café de Coral, and they sell hot pots in the evening. They even do them for one person, and the portion sizes are huge. I had so much meat, vegetables and seafood that I did not even finish it. This is highly untypical, with me loving food – but it was just too much.
It’s very nice food. Once it’s ready you pull it out with your chopsticks and you dip it into a sauce and then eat it with rice. In the end, you can also drink the flavoursome soup – and you won’t feel too guilty about eating a big meal, as it’s just boiled in a soup, not being fatty or greasy at all!
Buns and rolls
Hong Kong is the city of bakeries – there is one at every corner. Bakeries here sell bread, rolls, buns, cakes. Everything you like! I made it my mission to try at least one different bun a day. So far I had the following buns:
- Cocktail bun – this is nothing fancy. It originates in the 1950s, is a type of bun stuffed with a filling made of unsold buns, sugar, and shredded coconut. At the time, the proprietors of bakeries found aversion to the wasteful disposal of unsold, but nonetheless edible, buns. As a solution to this problem, the cost-saving cocktail bun was formulated. They still do it today, even though they produce the bun inside the bun freshly and don’t use old stock
- Ham and Egg bun – it’s what the name says: a bun filled with a slice of ham and egg. Both shaped in a square and stacked upon each other. I guess this is an early McMuffin version!
- Green tea bun with red beans inside – that’s Japanese, not Chinese, but still delicious. Not only are the colours amazing, but it has a distinct taste and is not as overpowering and sweet as some of the Chinese buns I have had
- Coconut bun – just a sweet roll with dried coconut shaves on top. Nice as well!
- BBQ pork – yes that’s char siu again, this time in a roll made of yeast. It’s ok, but I had one where the meat was not so nice – so I guess I am back to the sweet rolls again!