The plain rice with lard.HK O'Man restaurant's signature dishes include the plain rice with lard, the mixed HK O'Man pig knuckle and poon choi, or basin cuisine, served in large wooden, porcelain or metal basins.[Photo provided to China Daily]
A Hong Kong transplant says the capital's food scene was leaving him homesick, until he opened his own restaurants, Liu Zhihua reports.
In 2009, after working on the Chinese mainland for a few years, Hong Kong native Andrew Lam was becoming hungry for the foods he'd grown up with.
"Beijing people call migrants living and working in Beijing 'beipiao', and we are also beipiao. We come from the south, and now live in the north, and miss the flavor of our home," Lam says.
Despite the thriving restaurant scenes even in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, it is still difficult to find authentic Hong Kong cuisine, Lam says.
Not a cook himself, Lam hired an experienced team headed by Hong Kong chef Chan Kin-chiu, and opened his first HK O'Man restaurant in the Chinese capital's Sanlitun area in 2011, which quickly became popular with its quality fare at a moderate price. Late last fall, the second branch opened in Yintai in 88, an upscale shopping mall in the city center's Wangfujing area.
Poon Choi.HK O'Man restaurant's signature dishes include the plain rice with lard, the mixed HK O'Man pig knuckle and poon choi, or basin cuisine, served in large wooden, porcelain or metal basins.[Photo provided to China Daily]
Lam tries his best to source authentic, quality ingredients, which he believes are the foundation of the tastes of his childhood memories. Most of the ingredients come from South China, including Hong Kong.
Hong Kong was once a British colony, and its long history as a center of international commerce has given its cuisine varied roots from both East and West, producing a fusion fare that includes both street food and luxury delicacies, Lam says. Over time, that has distinguished it somewhat from Cantonese food, its traditional basis.
I went to the Wangfujing branch the other day, and had a feast of signature Hong Kong dishes.
Cantonese food is celebrated for soups, and the soups I tried reflected that tradition.
My favorite was the double-boiled pork cartilage soup with black garlic, which gets its dark color from being fermented and gives a special aroma to the soup. It has a soft, sweet bite－a good contrast with the knuckles that are savory and slightly chewy.
The knuckles are big, and while the hot ones' taste is pungent and fierce, especially if dipped in chili powder, the cold ones' flavor is less aggressive but lasting.
Xiao chao huang, or stir-fried assorted vegetables and meat, is a common dish in many Cantonese restaurants, but O'Man restaurant's version is among the best I've had. The secret perhaps lies in the abundance of ingredients in what is quite a small dish. The kitchen uses dozens of ingredients and seasonings, including Cantonese sausage, shrimps, dried fish, shrimp paste and flower stalks of Chinese chives.
The restaurant's plain rice with lard and the freshly made sugar cane and water chestnut drink are also must-tries.