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Food is where the heart is

新华网 2016-01-08 11:32

  

  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 mixed HK O'Man pig knuckle.HK O'Man restaurant's signature dishes include the plain rice withlard, 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]

 Black garlic has become very popular among foodies for its health benefits and distinct flavor inrecent years, and Chinese people also believe knuckles are good for health, due to their richcontent of collagen and calcium. 

  The mixed HK O'Man pig knuckle served as an entree consists of knuckles cooked in two ways-some are deep-fried, the others are boiled and brined in salty soup flavored by myriadtraditional Chinese herbs and flavorings, such as soy sauce, star anise, cumin, pepper andcinnamon. 

  Sided with two dressings-chili powder and flavored soy sauce-that are placed in two smallround plates, knuckles of each flavor are presented together on each side of a plate to resemblea tai chi pattern. 

  The deep-fried knuckles are hot, having a golden and crispy surface and tender inside, and aredeliciously meaty. The brined knuckles are cold and savory, with mixed flavors from theseasonings. 

 

  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.

[Editor:陈琛]