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Heavily handcrafted cuisine - Pak Loh Chiu Chow
Photograph: Courtesy Pak Loh Chiu Chow Restaurant

5 traditional Chinese dishes vanishing from Hong Kong menus

..and where you can still find them around town

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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From dim sum to claypot rice, Chinese gastronomy has a long history going back thousands of years. Many traditional dishes take hours to prepare and include an arduous process as the chef battles with many complicated ingredients. Sadly, as unique as these handcrafted creations are, they are too labour intensive to be commercially viable, especially within Hong Kong's diverse and vibrant food scene. While some esteemed restaurants try to keep these dishes on the menu, the chefs behind them could be the last to uphold these culinary traditions. Read about the remaining restaurants in town that are keeping the traditions alive. Try them – while you still can.

RECOMMENDED: Luckily, Hong Kong still has plenty of dishes that are unique only to Hong Kong.

 

Hong Kong’s disappearing dishes and where to find them

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Wan Chai
  • price 4 of 4

A banquet dish that's disappearing fast, but Fook Lam Moon is determined in keeping it alive. This double-stuffed and boiled delight is a cross between a turducken and haggis. First, the chef packs bird's nests into a boneless chicken. Then, the whole bird is stuffed into a pig stomach, before it's all steamed together with the restaurant's signature secret broth. The preparation requires skilful hands as the thin pork tripe can easily tear. The tripe is infused with a tasty broth while the bird's nest absorbs the chicken flavour; this is layer upon layer of flavour and texture.

$3,400 for a party of four to five – orders must be placed 24 hours in advance

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

There aren't many restaurants serving eight treasures duck nowadays, mainly because of the hours of work involved and the eight long list of ingredients needed like mushrooms, chestnuts, Chinese salted ham, lotus seeds, salted eggs, lean pork, lily bulbs, and barley. Each ingredient is prepared individually while the duck is braised with abalone sauce for over an hour to make sure the meat absorbs all the flavours. Then, there are two main challenges. Firstly, the timing for braising the duck must be perfect so that the meat is tender without falling apart. Secondly, the flavours of each 'treasure' must be balanced so that no ingredient overpowers the other. Spring Moon at The Peninsula is a master of this Cantonese gem. 

$480 for half portion, $960 for a full order – orders must be placed 24 to 48 hours in advance 

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Duck with eight goodies
  • Restaurants
  • Sheung Wan

A variation of the traditional eight treasures duck, Celebrity Cuisine’s duck with eight goodies uses different fillings and smothers the meat in a rich, fragrant sauce. The laborious process starts with deboning the duck while keeping the skin completely intact. Then ginkgo, chestnut, pearl barley, lotus seed, egg yolk, glutinous rice, lily buds, and jinhua ham are prepared individually before being stuffed inside the duck. The bird is then marinated, deep-fried, and steamed in supreme soup for two hours. We’re getting dizzy just thinking about the tedious process.

$480 per order – orders must be placed 24 hours in advance 

  • Restaurants
  • West Kowloon

With almost a five-decade-long history serving Hong Kong the finest Chiu Chow cuisine in our city, it’s no surprise that Pak Loh Chiu Chow is carrying the torch for the city’s traditions. For this dish, the chefs use large sea cucumbers soaked in water for at least four days. They then fill it with dried scallops, lotus seeds, ham, and mushrooms. The sea cucumbers are stewed for over three hours to soften and absorb all the flavours of the filling. Served alongside pork and/or dried flatfish meatballs, this has been a popular favourite among the Chiu Chow community for generations. It’s considered auspicious and symbolises a full wallet and belly. 

$2,000 for a party of 12 people – diners must call in advance to order, and can opt for either pork or fish.

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  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Sheung Wan

Great skill and masterful execution are the keys to Howard's Gourmet, particularly with its signature sea cucumber and supreme broth. It takes an astounding six days to make, starting with the soup which is made with chicken, lean pork meat, and ribs that are boiled separately in high-pressure cookers. The broth is then frozen to seal in the nutrients before being split into three layers so the meat remains at the bottom with the fats at the top. After removing the top and bottom, the middle layer of clear broth is then reheated and infused with the porous sea cucumber that's been soaking for four days. The whole thing is then roasted in the oven until it is crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. 

Set lunch and dinner starts at $1,000 to $2,200. Be sure to call ahead as prices may vary. 

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