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May 20, 2009 11:20 PM

On Choy in Mandarin? [split from SF Bay]

[Split from: -- The Chowhound Team].

So....! The question is...."How does one say "On Choy" in Mandarin???

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  1. Just try on choy. It should be fine. I have notice that another table ordered in Cantonese and they had no problem get over what they wanted. I for one do not know the say it in Mandarin either.

    3 Replies
    1. re: yimster

      Poster possumspice found that the server at Beijing did not understand the Cantonese name and had to order in Mandarin (kong xin cai).

      1. re: Xiao Yang

        In my three visits to Beijing I always asked for what fresh were available and not offer on choy/kong xin cai as one available to us.

        But after reading Chowfun post I went out after a big lunch and stopped at the local 99Ranch to buy some for dinner. By the 99 cent a lb today. I pick a Mandarin speaking cashier and asked her how to say it in Mandarin and she told me on choy and when asked again she turn and asked the other cashier (also a Mandarin speaker) was told on choy, it was not until the Lady behind chipped with kong xin cai did I remember the hollow vegetable.

        Well as long as you get it what is a name.

        1. re: Xiao Yang

          to clarify, they may know the term "on choy." i think the waitress was thrown off that i asked in english (do you have "on choy"?) and didn't connect the dots until my mom jumped in and asked the entire question in mandarin.

      2. That would be kong xin cai (pronounced kong seen chai) or hollow hearted veggie.

        "ong choy (aka Ipomoea aquatica, kong xin cai, kangkong, au muống, convolvulus)"

        11 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Funny thing--when I was in HK last year, I tried to order ong choi and the waitress (who was pretty young) was confused I used the word. Apparently, the city folk nowadays call it "toong choi" or "hollow vegetable." I got the impression that using "ong choi" was for old grannies and rubes from the countryside.

          1. re: sfbing

            " Other names: Water Spinach, Tropical spinach. Kankon, Weng Cai, Ngung Choi, Ung Tsoi, Ung Choi, Kong Xin Cai, Tong Sin Tsai, Toongsintsai, Hung sam choi, Ong tung tso; Ong Choy, Ungtsai, Tung Choy, Kang Kong, Kang Kung, Rau Muong, Swamp Cabbage, Swamp morning glory, "


            1. re: Xiao Yang

              Once went to a Chinese restaurant which had something called sweet potato sprouts on the menu, which intrigued me so I ordered it. I ended up with a plate of on choy. They hardly spoke any English so I couldn't ascertain if they mangled my order or what. Subsequently, however, I learned that sweet potatoes and on choy are sort of biologically related. Guess it has something to do with tubular vines. Not sure how the restaurant knew that.

              1. re: sfbing

                Yeah they call it kong xin chai in Taiwan as well.

                For Hong Kong it should also be perfectly acceptable to say ong choi so long as you pronounce it right...and it is hard to write it out phonetically, you kinda need to pronounce a silent "ng" in the beginning, but tung choi, or tung sum choi, is probably an easier standard like you say.

                1. re: K K

                  Young people in HK tend to drop the "ng" sound and have a tendency to turn "n"s into "l"s. I don't notice that as much in the older people, which I suppose means that I sound unhip. I found it particularly amusing since the restaurant supposedly specialized in "village" cooking like choi poon, and she was all, "On Hong Kong Island, we say "tung choi."

                  1. re: sfbing

                    In any case they have lots of this at Ranch 99 and all you gotta do is chop it in threeinch lengths, stir fry the bottom parts first, a little vinegar, DELICIOUS...

                    1. re: sfbing

                      Ahh poon choi, never had the pleasure of trying it during my HK years (then again you do need a whole village of people to partake), can only feast on it via TV shows like Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations HK...

                      Hahaha you said it right. I know very well about the "n" vs "l" like in words for "male" or "blue".

                      Well I grew up in the 70s/80s, and luckily was lectured well on certain pronounciations. Part of the pronounciation is time and culture (ie the descendants of different kinds of Chinese that settled in HK, from Hakka, Chiu Chow, Canton/Guangzhou, Toishan, Fujian, Zhongshan etc etc)

                      But yeah...certain Chinese medcine practioners may have some not so great things to say about our beloved ong choy (along with unmarinated Chinese mustard greens), depending on your body makeup and hot/cold balances and allergy symptoms.... but that's another topic for the experts.

                      1. re: K K

                        Poon choi in LA. Come on down.

                        1. re: Chandavkl

                          Other than Bon Marche Bistro for poon choi,

                          331 W Garvey Ave
                          Ste D
                          Monterey Park, CA 91754

                          Where else?