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Chilli Fagara
Photograph: Courtesy Chilli Fagara

Best XO sauce in Hong Kong

Because we all know that you can’t have turnip cake without XO sauce

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Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
&
Fontaine Cheng
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As we start ordering our Chinese New Year puddings and turnip cakes, it’s all Kung Hei Fat Choi from here on out. So, we felt it appropriate to give you a heads up on the best condiment to pair it with – XO sauce. This Hong Kong invention is a local favourite but has since become a mainstay in many households. Named after XO cognac, the sauce mainly consists of dried seafood, including scallops and shrimps, and salty ham. The spicy and savoury taste comes from slowly frying the seafood with chilli peppers, onions, and garlic. But, since most of us don’t have the time, nor the kitchen space, to make it ourselves, keep reading for the ones worth trying this season.

RECOMMENDED: If you prefer to head out for your CNY dinner, please do so safely, and check out our list of the best Cantonese restaurants in Hong Kong.

Best XO sauce in Hong Kong

Spring Moon
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Tsim Sha Tsui
  • price 4 of 4

There are many different stories pertaining to how XO sauce was invented, with the most popular being how famous food critic and writer Wang Tingzhi reinvented shrimp paste during his consultation for The Peninsula’s Spring Moon in 1986. Back then, the restaurant's XO sauce was just a staple sauce that was given complimentary to customers who dines there, but it ended up being so popular that they decided to put it up for sale. So, if you want to have a taste of the OG XO sauce, get down to Spring Moon or order it online at The Peninsula Boutique here. Bear in mind that the price of the sauce is, unsurprisingly, at the higher end ($413) – but it's so good!

Nicole's Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Nicoles-Kitchen

Nicole's Kitchen

Nicole’s Kitchen boasts a selection of artisanal sauces made using the finest ingredients and presented in minimalist packaging. The sauces are available at HKTVMall, Green Common, ParknShop and supermarkets across Hong Kong. Her handmade premium XO sauce ($260) is made with Japanese sakura shrimp, Hokkaido’s first-class conpoy, and complemented by local shrimp skin, shrimp roe, dried shrimp, Jinhua ham, cone pepper, garlic, and shallots. They also have a non-spicy and extra spicy version. All of which are available on their website here.

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Dashije
Photograph: Courtesy Dai Se Jie

Dashije

Dashije, a student of the late Cantonese cuisine expert Pearl Kong Chen, is known for her detail-oriented cooking style. True to form, her XO sauce only makes use of the best ingredients, from premium conpoy to Jinhua ham to fried flounder fish. The sauce comes in multiple variations such as the extra hot XO sauce with sakura shrimp ($178) – with a very distinctive aroma – and the salted fish XO sauce ($178) which features salted threadfin and anchovy for a unique umami flavour. All XO sauces, along with other condiments from the brand, are available on their website here.

Devil Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Devil Kitchen

Devil Kitchen

Devil Kitchen is an XO sauce brand operated by local sauce pioneer Diana and her nephew Joe. Diana first started making XO sauce for fun, only giving samples to her friends and family. Everybody loved it so much that she and her nephew decided to start a business together. The ingredients include such delights as Hokkaido conpoy and whole Jinhua ham, and they even added in some fish sauce in the frying process. There are three versions of their XO sauce, from the original ($145) to the ma la ($149) to a tom yum kung ($149) flavour that’s sour and spicy with a lemongrass scent. Check out all the sauces on their website here.

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  • Restaurants
  • Lan Kwai Fong

Famed for its roast goose, Yung Kee is a part of Hong Kong’s history and continues to be a favourite among Chinese food lovers. This season, their Chinese New Year collection of gifts includes a Supreme XO chilli sauce ($268) which is made with quality Japanese dried scallops, Zhejiang Jinhua ham, wild dried shrimp, Thai hot chilli peppers and other ingredients to make for the perfect condiment with a kick for CNY turnip cake and other dishes. You can purchase these in store, and at City’Super and Yata stores too. Find more details on their website here.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Soho
  • price 3 of 4

Sichuan restaurant Chilli Fagara has launched three new artisanal sauces for Lunar New Year including a fragrant ‘Mandarin tang-erine’ sauce with a spice kick, a hot ‘Ghost in the Pepper’ sauce made with ghost peppers, and a premium abalone XO sauce which uses South African abalone, Jin Wah ham and conpoy in a blend of Sichuan peppercorn for that ma la flavour that keeps you wanting more. The sauces are all available as a gift set ($538) on their website here, as is their original XO sauce ($168) and vegetarian XO sauce ($148) too.

CNY giving you a headache? Read the ultimate guide to the holiday here

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