Tak Kee Chiu Chou Restaurant – Excellent Chiu Chow Food in Western District, Hong Kong
**For full post and pics**: http://www.lauhound.com/2012/08/tak-k...
Tak Kee Chiu Chou Restaurant 德記潮州菜館 is a popular Chiu Chow (Teochew / Chao Zhou) restaurant in Western. It is a full family style restaurant as opposed to the Chiu Chow noodle soup and braised meat specialists that are very common in Hong Kong.
As I’ve stated several times on this blog, Chiu Chow food is one of my favorite types of Chinese food. It’s known for relying on the freshness of ingredients and tends to rely on lighter methods of cooking like steaming and braising. It’s one of the Chinese cuisines that would be easy to eat daily.
The restaurant is located in Kennedy Town in Western District; Kennedy Town is located fairly far away from the more mainstream areas of Hong Kong Island such Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and isn’t easily accessible via MTR (subway), so the restaurant is very “local” with few if any tourists.
The restaurant is a reasonably large room that while not having particularly exciting décor is very clean and isn’t a dive. The restaurant’s walls are lined with multi-colored banners that list various specials and there is also a display area showcasing their various cold dishes such as fish, crabs and braised meats; this is a common sight in Chiu Chow restaurants and I love seeing all the stuff they have to offer. I didn’t see an English menu, but I read that they do have an English menu. Any which way, I wrote the Chinese characters so you could order what I ordered easily.
Here’s what we got:
- Tofu and Pickled Vegetable: This was served as a complementary dish at the beginning of the meal. It was pickled cabbage (suan cai) and tiny pieces of fried tofu in a sweet chili sauce that was very slightly spicy. The combo of sour flavor pickled cabbage and the sweetness of the sauce was really nice together. Also the texture from the crunch of the cabbage and the fried tofu was great. While very simple, I thought this was really good. 8.75/10
- Vinegar Smoked Anchovies (Chen Cu Xun Feng Wei Yu 陳醋燻鳳尾魚): These were whole fried anchovies in aged vinegar (chen cu 陳醋) served at room temperature. The aged vinegar is fairly sweet with a thick consistency somewhere in between water and syrup. The fish is eaten whole and you don’t notice the bones at all. The texture is jerky-like, which makes me think they smoked then fried the fish. These were pretty tasty although a bit on the sweet side for me. 8.25/10
- Braised Goose (Lu Shui E 鹵水鵝): Braised meats are a staple of Chiu Chow cuisine; the braising style is called lu wei 鹵味, but Hong Kong they refer to it as lu shui 鹵水. This technique uses a master stock that is constantly re-used (i.e. they keep filling it up). I didn’t have any expectations of this, but it turned out to be some of the best braised goose I’ve ever had. The cut I got is the breast and it’s a fairly lean cut, so sometimes I find it can be a bit too dry, but here it was really tender and juicy with slight pieces of fat that were great. The braising sauce was outstanding; it was light with a good balance between being salty and having a slight sweetness to it. The vinegar cuts the fat from the meat perfectly. I actually thought it was better than the version I had at Hung’s Delicacies, which is a one star Michelin restaurant known for this dish. 9/10
- Baked Fish in Plum Sauce (Mei Zi Shao Wu Tou 梅子燒烏頭): I was going to order a steamed fish since that is traditional Chiu Chow style fish, but the waitress told me that the baked fish is one of their specialties. They took a fish called wu tou 烏頭 (crow head) and baked it in foil in a sweet plum sauce. The result was excellent; the fish was really nice and tender and not fishy whatsoever. The sauce was a bit sweeter than I was expecting, but still tasted good with the fish. Overall, this was a solid dish. 8.5/10
- Oyster Congee (Hao Zai Zhou 蠔仔粥): Chiu chow style congee is very different than Cantonese style congee. It’s very watery as opposed to Cantonese congee which is very thick. I believe Chiu Chow people say something about it being like mountains and oceans because of the rice popping out from the surface of the water. Also, unlike Cantonese they don’t call it zhou 粥, they call it mi 糜 (mue in Chiu Chow). The version here had oysters, pork and pickled vegetables in it. The ingredients were excellent; the oysters were fresh and clean tasting, the pork was tender and the pickled vegetables gave it a nice sour flavor. This was a very good version, but I prefer Cantonese style congee as I find it much more flavorful and like the texture better as Chiu Chow congee just feels like rice with too much water in it. 8/10
- Fried Oyster Pancake (Zha Hao Bing 炸蠔餅): This was another dish the restaurant was known for. It’s a fried oyster pancake with lots of chives in it. It looked really oily, but it was surprisingly not oily and was more airy than dense. The oysters they use here are very fresh and don’t taste fishy at all. It was served with vinegar that was similar to the vinegar for the goose; it was a nice compliment as it didn’t over power the flavor of the pancake, but cut the oil from frying. Overall, I thought it was pretty good although it was a little lighter in flavor than I was expecting. 8.25/10
This was an enjoyable meal and probably one of the better Chiu Chow restaurants I’ve been to in Hong Kong, definitely recommend checking it out.
Heard from Fourseasons you two had a fun time doing Hawker Stalls hopping in S'pore!!
Your 2nd posting on Chui Chow food. Looks like you are an avid lover of Chui Chow Cuisine!! If that's the case, you should pay this 'hole-in-the-wall' place in Hung Hum a try. Its called 'Sun Chung Kee' and should be on openrice.com. Here are some pictures of my meal there a while back. The Stirred fry goose intestine with fermented black beans and preserved Chinese mustard greens was 'out-of-this-world'!!! Such great 'wok-hay'! In addition to the goose, we also had the mixed innards as well!
BTW, you used 'Master Stock' to describe the herbed/spiced soya Lu Shui whilst I've been told its the 'Mother Stock'!! I wonder which gender is correct?! Western US or Eastern Canada? Ha!!!!
re: Charles Yu
I am a big fan of chiu chow cuisine, i think its one of the most underrated chinese foods although i think people are starting to realize how good the food is in singapore / malaysia now (become very popular in mainstream media) and a large amt is chiu chow cuisine is a part of that along with hokkien food...so by default people are realizing how good it is
i think this is the place? http://www.openrice.com/english/resta...
ill def add it to my list (i've got this massive list of HK restaurants i've compiled over the years, been slowly making my way through it), these pics look great. i love anything with good wok hay and goose intenstines + black bean is an awesome combo. how was the bo zai fan you have in the pic? i had the best bo zai fan ive ever had on this last trip at kwan kee, ill post on it soon
Btw what's the 3rd pic? the 4th pic is the goose intestines and i know what all the other stuff is
re: master stock, first time ive heard it called mother stock, but same thing haha
re: Singapore - yah I met up with FourSeasons during the day and did a food crawl...we ate a ridiculous amount of food, it was fun and tasty! ill be posting up all my singapore reviews after my HK reviews. Going to take a while b/c i went to so many places in both cities
Yup! Thats the place! The third photo was a 'Mixed Lu Shui innards platter'. Ears, tongue, red sausages, stomach...etc. After finishing that we realized we left out the 'Cuttle Fish'!!! Next time??!! Sigh!!
The hot pot rice was pretty good. I would suggest adding extra sausages and meat for a few bucks more!!
that is kind of true, they do look different although i dont think the same chiu chow dishes that are popular in singapore are the same ones that are popular in HK as I think HK chiu chow dishes may have evolved somewhat to cater toward local tastes
its possible that singapore's food might be more close to the original since chiu chow people are a much bigger % of the chinese population in singapore than they are in HK and you still hear chiu chow being spoken by older people everywhere in singapore whereas in HK i havent heard it often. I've never been to shantou or chaoshan so its difficult for me to judge exactly who's is more "authentic" i.e. close to how people in chaozhou cook their food
Much of the Chiuchow food in Singapore came by way of Bangkok - when the British colonialists initially wanted to attract Chinese migrants to Singapore in the 19th-century, there was already a large, well-established Chiuchow community in Bangkok, and many of them moved southwards to Singapore. Many in my family were among the wave of Chiuchow immigrants who settled in Singapore from Bangkok, besides our ancestral hometown, Swatow (known in Mandarin as Shàntóu or 汕头). My maternal grandfather was born in Swatow, whilst my maternal grandmother was from Bangkok but of Swatow-born parents.
Quite a sizable number of my extended family: cousins, uncles/aunts & in-laws in Singapore today are Swatow-born themselves, or else of Swatow parentage. A number were also Bangkok-born Chiuchow. Chiuchow culture figures heavily in their lives in the form of Chiuchow opera, music and, of course, food. Almost everyone in my maternal family would have made the pilgrimage back to our ancestral homeland in Swatow, and many actually made those trips an annual affair, at the very least.
Chiuchow food in Swatow is about 95% similar to what we have here in Singapore, as well as Bangkok. If you're ever in Bangkok's Chinatown (Samphaeng) in Yaowarat, try the 'Big 3' Chiuchow (called 'Taechew' in Thailand) restaurants there: Jim Jim, Sin Kwang Meng & Tan Jai Yun. There's more Chiuchow spoken in there than Thai.
Swatow trumps Singapore's, of course - mainly due to the availability of some species of vegetables and variety of seafood there. And you get those at a fraction of the price we need to pay in Singapore.
Worse, the best Chiuchow restaurant in Singapore - Huat Kee, has seen a deterioration of standards recently.
Singapore has roughly 5 large Chiuchow sub-dialect groups remaining, versus 7 sub-dialect groups in Penang, Malaysia. One of those sub-dialect groups in Penang was the one my maternal family belonged to - sometimes, when any of us visit Penang, we'll get orders to buy back large boxes of freshly-made, coil-shaped tofu which is no longer available in Singapore, but still obtainable from Penang, if we're not to have to make a visit to the home villages in China :-D
BTW, other Chiuchow restaurants you should try on any future trips to Singapore are:
- Lee Kui (Ah Hoi) on Mosque St (Chinatown),
- Liang Kee in Whampoa,
- Swa Garden on MacPherson Rd (best steamed 8-Treasure vegetables)
- Ah Orh in Bukit Merah - this place used to be 'numero uno' when it was located in the Ellenborough St market (used to the known as "Teochew Pasat" or Chiuchow Mkt amongst locals).
- Mong Hing in Keypoint, Beach Road.
ah very interesting, i'd expect as much
too bad about huat kee, it was actually on my list of chiu chow restaurants to try in singapore. hopefully they resume their standards, i was just looking at their menu on their website and it was making me hungry. next time i go to singapore, i need to do a full sit down chiu chow (and hokkien) meal ...i did mainly hawker stuff this time
Singapore is better at formal Chinese dining, whereas KL & Penang are better at hawker foods.
The past 4 decades whence I'm in Singapore, I eat in a hawker/food centre perhaps 4-5 times annually - at the most! I preferred dining in restaurants, even small eateries. When I moved to KL in March 2011, I initially continued this habit ... before I found out my mistake. In KL, the street stalls and casual hawker-style eateries were the ones churning out the best foods in town, whilst their restaurants pale in comparison to those in Singapore. Ditto for Penang, where the street foods are the best in the world but their best Chinese formal dining spots were, with the exception of Evergreen Laurel's Chinese restaurant and G Hotel's Sesame+Soy, uniformly worse than even those in KL.
yah ive heard that about Penang.
In singapore, i ate alot of hawker food b/c i was able to try more things in one sitting (and also like hawker food haha) since during the day most of my friends were at work, so it was hard for me to go sitdown restaurants
i did get to go to sin huat which would count as casual coffee shop type place (it was really good) and outram park ya hua rou gu cha which would also fall into casual coffee shop (i really liked their bak kut teh as i like the peppery version alot and their ter keh)
Re: formal restaurants in KL: Except for places like Oversea Restaurant in Imbi, which even your HK colleagues loved; or Ming Court in Bangsar, which even you have reported on very favorably?
I assume by "hawker-style eateries" you include those which are located *within* a specific building in an enclosed space. :-)
i just ate Oversea in KL...that restaurant is very good, one of the better cantonese meals ive had in a while; in particular they had a shrimp and fish dish that were really outstanding, i really wanted to try their cha siu but they ran out by the time i got there unfortunately. The fish and shrimp dish I had would be considered excellent in HK
Oh yes - Oversea at Jalan Imbi. I absolutely loved that place. But its other outlets could not measure up to the original.
Ming Room has better ambience than Oversea by far, but its cooking standards would not measure up to Singapore's top 10-15 Cantonese outlets. Pretty ironic, since many of these Singapore Cantonese restaurants actually have Malaysian (besides Hong Kong) chefs. Take Sam Leong, for example, first renowned as Executive Chef for the excellent Jiang Nan-chun in the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. He then left to take overall charge of the kitchens of the Tung Lok Group of Restaurants, one of the top chain of luxury Chinese restaurants in Singapore (and older than the other groups like Crystal Jade, Imperial Treasure and 'johnny-come-lately' Taste Paradise). Sam Leong is one of the best-recognized faces on Singapore's culinary scene. He's from Johore, Malaysia - his father started the Tai Thong group of restaurants in Malaysia.
Like many, many other talented Chinese-Malaysian chefs, they seek greener pastures in Singapore, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Interesting to note that even the kitchens of top roast duck restaurants in London, e.g. Four Seasons, Gold Mine, etc., are full of Chinese-Malaysians. Incredibly talented. I'd not heard of Singaporean chefs doing likewise!
London's Hakkasan - the UK's first Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant (when it gained 1-star in 2003) is headed by a Chinese-Malaysian, Tong Chee Hwee:
Ditto head chef of Hakkasan New York, Ho Chee Boon:
Australia's legendary chef, Cheong Liew, is KL-born.
I guess this may account for the reason why KL's Cantonese fine-dining scene seemed to lack that extra "shine" - too many talents have left its shores, plus the local restrictions like "halal" policy at many luxury hotels' Chinese restaurants, which would exclude use of ingredients like Jinghua ham, abalone, sharksfin, crabs, or many other ingredients which would be deemed non-halal.