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Hunan Bacon

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Does anyone out there remember Henry Chung's original restaurant on Kearny in Chinatown - late 70's I guess...and on the menu they had this dish called simply, I think, Hunan bacon. It consisted of domino-sized chunks of bacon which had been boiled, fried and steamed to a melty, fatty delectablility. Was definitely some star anise and maybe scallion? I remember that when you ordered it the waitress tried to talk you out of it - "You no like."

Is there anywhere around that does that style dish? Think of it as a kind of nostalgia/cholesterol trip.

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  1. Was it bacon as in smoked american style bacon, or was it chunks/slices of braised/stewed pork belly?

    The latter is a classic dish, but you'll only find it in some authentic chinese restaurants or by request.

    1. I think you're describing kau yuk, usually steamed w/taro or preserved veg. One of the better versions is at Ton Kiang; Kirin also has a good one. Thought this dish was pretty prevalent in C-town cantonese restos.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Sarah

        I don't think Hunan Chinese Bacon is the same as kau yuk. It's pickled with spices including prickly ash in sorghum liquor, and later smoked. It's spicier than I can imagine in Cantonese restaurants.

        1. re: Sarah

          Ton Kiang's "steamed bacon with dried mustard greens" is the best version of that dish I've found. Worth planning a dinner there.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            if all works out, i'm to be treated to dinner here tonight, the 15th of june. considering the cut of meat, i'm assuming this dish is heavy. i think half of the family i'm going with does not like heavy, meaty dishes but the other half does. for six to maybe eight people, how does this dish portion out?

            i'm used to just letting this family order what they want and i thank them graciously, but i think i might insist on this if we do eat there. and do you know if this dish is consistently served with mustard greens, or does it vary? if we do eat here i'll report back. i've heard much negativity about ton kiang's dim sum, which i feel unqualified to weigh in on, but this is the only dish i've seen mentioned with any regularity (or positivity) from their dinner menu.

            1. re: augustiner

              Ton Kiang's is as described on the menu always served with mustard greens. They're dried and reconstituted so the flavor and texture are quite different from fresh.

              It's not so much heavy as rich. In my experience some people won't taste it and others will want only a bite or two, so one serving's probably enough for six or eight. You could always order another if people go wild for it.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                ate at ton kiang, and ordered the steamed bacon dish. when ordered, it was the only time that the waiter stopped and smiled, muttering "good dish," which i took as a good sign. it was definitely the standout dish of the meal. the sauce was haunting, especially mixed with rice. the slices of pork weren't the most tender i've had, but still juicy. it came late in the meal, and we over ordered, so i was able to take the rest home.

                the rest of the meal was fair to pretty good. salt and pepper scallops, basil beef, chicken and lop cheong clay pot...can't really remember what else. but this pork dish really stood out, almost felt as it it came from a different kitchen or restaurant.

                1. re: augustiner

                  I wonder if there aren't some other gems hidden in that long menu. Some of the soups sound likely:


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    From augustiner's interaction with the waiter, it sounds like Ton Kiang is a place where it really helps to schmooze the waiter and get him to pick some other winners from the menu for you.

        2. yes, chunks of pork belly is right - but more steamed than stewed IIRC

          1 Reply
          1. re: BIM

            Don't know any restaurants in your area except for the one on the corner in SM which served dimsum, now departed (they probably had it!). Call around and ask for "kow yook." Maybe someone in your area will come to the rescue. If you're in SF, definitely try out the Ton Kiang version.

          2. In the early days, the waitress was probably Diana. If you sat at the counter, you would usually be served by Henry himself. I don't recall him ever trying to dissuade anybody.

            1. I order a dish called Hunan Bacon at Henry's Hunan (Henry Chung's family has about 4 restraunts) on Natoma St. It's boiled pork belly slices with tofu and a lot of dried red peppers, very spicy and DELICIOUS!!!! It is served in a bowl with broth like juice.

              7 Replies
              1. re: MSH

                There's no mention of that on the online menu. Does it maybe have another name?


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I could be wrong, but my recollection from working in the Financial District is that the take-out menus from the Sacramento and Natoma restaurants were slightly different. Therefore, it's possible that the online menu is not exhaustive.

                  1. re: weem

                    It's not on the menupages.com scan of the Natoma menu either.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      It's not on the menu at the Natoma location, but it is written on a piece of paper on the wall, as a "special" of sorts. I'm a Henry's fanatic, and we ordered it - it was intensely flavored, so you need to be careful about eating it with a good portion of rice. But when eaten that way, it was delicious.

                      1. re: Kenois

                        Every time I see this topic, I keep thinking "Human Bacon"
                        You know.....long pig.

                        1. re: kungful

                          I had that same thought when a NJ chowhounder was looking for real Polynesian food. Of course he wanted Zombies and Pu Pu Platter.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    It is not on any online menu because it is served only at this location and not Henry's other locations. So, when you go to the one on Natoma you will see it on thy physical menu.

                2. Hunan bacon is a cured pork belly much like American bacon in texture, but it is salty and smoky, without the sugar typical of an American bacon cure. It is often served stir-fried after being boiled- I think more "authentic" versions of twice-cooked pork use this as the meat, typically with leeks. Other versions may use Chinese ham, and the most Westernized versions will use BBQ or roast pork.

                  The fairly common dish of braised fresh pork belly with preserved vegetable is very different- the flavor comes from the sweet star anise/five-spice stewing liquid, but this is not the cured, smoked, Hunan bacon.(had a very good version of this at Daimo Richmond the other day).

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: twocents

                    I agree. The version at Daimo is rock solid. I like it better than the one at Ton Kiang. It's also a very generous serving.

                    1. re: lexdevil

                      I tried the Daimo version for lunch the other day and probably will not order it again. The fat wasn't rendered out quite as much as Ton Kiang's, and the preserved vegetables were sweet and relatively bland. It was a huge serving.

                      Best I've had in the East Bay so far was at Great China in Berkeley.

                      Daimo Chinese Restaurant
                      3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                      Great China Restaurant
                      2115 Kittredge St, Berkeley, CA 94704

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I've never had it a Great China, but I'll give it a shot. It hasn't been too fatty for me at Daimo. Guess the question is if I've been lucky or you've been unlucky.

                        1. re: lexdevil

                          Daimo's wasn't too fatty for me. I enjoyed the dish, it was just disappointing compared with Ton Kiang's.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I've found the flavor to be brighter at Daimo, but the only time I had it at Ton Kiang was at lunch on a weekday. Perhaps it wasn't at its best then.

                      2. re: lexdevil

                        iirc, someone told me that Macau Cafe in PEM had a good version also

                        1. re: kc72


                          Orchid Bowl Cafe
                          3288 Pierce St, Richmond, CA 94804

                    2. I'm not sure whether it's the same dish, but Spices has a great bacon dish on the appetizer menu.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Windy

                        Which Spices? I tried it at Spices 3 in Oakland a few months ago, and found it overwhelmingly garlicky.

                      2. There are a couple of Sichaun dishes that fit the bill. You can get them at China village in Albany or the Sichaun restaurant that is in the Pacific East mall. They are usually listed as "Smoked Ham" the most common way i have see it is with leeks and dry chillis.

                        2 Replies
                        1. Henry Chung's cookbook ("Henry Chung's Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook" p. 53) gives a recipe for fresh bacon in spicy brown sauce. The bacon is boiled, deep-fried, and then steamed. The pieces are 1/2" thick x 2 1/2" long. Is that domino-sized?

                          1. I have a recent menu from The Hunan on Natoma St and it's on there listed as a new dish.I know it's not listed on the Sansome menu posted on the website.I'm going to order it next time and report in to Chowhound under this posting.Still good news though.

                            1. Henry's Hunan on Sacramento still serves up many tasty smoked pork dishes. The place is still run by Henry's daughter.The cookbook mentioned below is on the wall near the check out. The bustling counter is the place to eat.

                              My personal favorite is the henry's special - which is a combo of the smoked ham/ bacon, chicken, hot chilis, and veggies. Always choke full spicy, salty, smokey goodness!

                              I also have been addicted to the Diana's special meat pie. Two onion cakes filled with spicy mystery meat, spicy sauce and shredded lettuce. It is out of this world.

                              1. **********Hunan Bacon lovers, please keep it on the menu*******************
                                I just talked to Frank at the Natoma st. Henry's Hunan and he said they are taking the Hunan Bacon off the menu because customers complained that it is too fatty. HELLO, when the name has "BACON" in it, what did you expect. Anyway, it's a wonderful dish and maybe he will consider keeping in on the menu if true connoisseur's of the dish keep requesting it without complaining.