Friday, January 7, 2011

Poon Choi, KK Fishermen's Seafood Restaurant, KK

1746466-Villagers_distributing_Poon_Choi-Sheung_Shui
Poon choi being distributed in a village in China.

I've never heard of poon choi ('basin dish') until I started reading food blogs, especially those of Peninsula bloggers. All I know of poon choi is that it is a communal dish shared by villagers in Hong Kong (back when there were villages in HK) and Southern China during festivals. Poon choi combines all the best ingredients available in one big deep dish and the many ingredients result in a rich soup or gravy that is delicious with rice. It is a clever dish because it can be prepared ahead and heated up when needed and everything in one big 'basin' saves on plates and space. It also obviously can feed an army or two, instantly.

When CL, a dear friend whom I've known since high school and pin-stripped suits (we worked in the same department in the bank) came back for a holiday last week, I took the chance to get nine of us ex workmates to sit down for a poon choi dinner at KK Fishermen Seafood Restaurant in Lintas Jaya, where Open University is located too. Most of us had never eaten poon choi and looked forward to it, jaded though our tastebuds are.

I was a little bit disappointed when the poon choi was brought to our table. I read that poon choi is a showy dish of quality ingredients, each ingredient arranged in a single layer, making many layers in a deep dish and diners consume the dish layer by layer, ending with fabulously delicious Chinese radish at the bottom, saturated with all the goodness from the meat. Our poon choi was a big platter of meat arranged neatly in sections, not layers. I've thought about it since and I think poon choi ingredients can only be in layers if it is indeed cooked for a village feast. For 10 or 12 diners at a table, if you layer the ingredients, you'll get a small deep dish or, in our case, a large dish of ingredients arranged in sections.

DSC_0290_1024x680
Poon choi of boiled free range chicken, roasted duck, sauteed prawns, braised dried oysters, pacific clams, sea cucumber, dried scallops stuffed in old cucumber (I think the scallops were semi-dried because they were soft and didn't have a deep flavor), stuffed fish maw, Chinese mushrooms, broccoli and Chinese radish.

DSC_0302_1024x680
Poon choi's fun to eat. Princesses won't enjoy it because they have to stand up and grab the food. None of us were princesses and we had a great time. Love you girls!

DSC_0304_1024x680

KK Fishermen Seafood Restaurant's poon choi is RM388 nett for 10 diners, although I think it can easily feed 12 because we could only eat 2/3 of our deep dish. You'd think that everything will taste the same but each meat still had its own flavor and texture and the sauce/soup wasn't too salty or too watery. We all agreed that the poon choi was delicious although two of my friends found that Wong Kwok Restaurant's poon choi is better, with more seafood and even larger quantity. Another friend, however, found WK's poon choi gravy/soup too watery and Fishermen's poon choi's gravy just nice. My only complain would be that there weren't enough sea cucumber to go around and the dried oysters were not of good quality and were small and bland. There were also cheap fried meat balls but I suppose I can't expect abalone at that price. Poon choi is all about meat, because in the old days in China, when people were too poor to eat meat daily, the best animals were kept for festivals.

Maybe it's because I have always enjoyed communal dining such as steamboat and yosenabe, or maybe because poon choi is different from the usual individual dishes, I am looking forward to another poon choi binge, especially with the festive Chinese New Year air, this time at Wong Kwok Restaurant. If any of you know a good poon choi in KK, please let me know.

9 comments:

malaymui said...

LOL, i also never heard of poon choi also until i get to know my hubby... it's his village (sort of an original settlement village in Hong Kong) signature dish...
I saw the female villagers cooking them during CNY (at one of the village feast) and it was really fun to watch them cook and arrange the dish in the basin. then the men of the villages carrying the basin to each table that sit about 8 to 10 people... we ate nothing else except rice and poon choi...

Precious Pea said...

Look at those yellow skin chicken!! I miss chicken back home cos the chicken meat here is soft and tasteless.

Sigh, i missed an opportunity to have poon choi in Hong Kong when i was there last year cos I didn't inform my friend of my visit. The poon choi event took place the weekend I was there. He is one of those committee members at the village and he gets to have one table for himself. I am still kicking myself until today.

Anonymous said...

It's a prized dish to be served during the Lunar New Year in Singapore! So much so that restaurants now easily charge SGD$500 (10 serves) for premium poonchoi.

- Hegemony's Honey

Coketai said...

I just have my Poon Choi dinner in Shanghai and the serving look different from the one you have in KK!! Anyway...this real traditional dish can only find in Southern part China or 围村 in HK.

LY.Tai

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

Terri, this Poon choi bah, say if 10 pax dinner, can i just order a poon choi + 1 vegetable dish + 1 soup, U think sufficient already ah ?

Anonymous said...

As a Hakka, we do have this dish after chinese New Year or elders's birthday party in the Kampong.Nowaday, nobody do this dish.It is left over food after the party when they have no fridge then in Sabah,Malaysia.
Nowaday, Poon choi in the restarants are fake. There are still Poon Choi in HK hakka villages. I think there is a meaning for the dish.

Anonymous said...

I've tasted my aunt's poon choi, whom is a hakka who takes pride of her cooking. She didn't add in any vegetable except pork, abalone,farm range chicken,superior quality sea cucumber and others, and it was good. She served the poon choi in a basin not on a big platter.

terri@adailyobsession said...

malaymui: wah, you've eaten poon choi in a hk village! any photos?

pp: aiya, i would kick myself too if i were you:(

hh: bet it's yummy though

coketai: poon choi in sh?!

denise: ooi, just the poon choi is enough!

anon 1 & 2: i was told by a relative tt poon choi is only served once a year in a certain village in hk and the ingredients are premium quality ones, not leftovers. they even include kiew yuk in the poon choi, and fatt choi hoe see. yumm.

Johnathan Oh said...

Hi Terri, oh I loved poon choi too. Its such a delight to eat, not mentioning fun too~! Been enjoying your post of late and the photos, they got better and better!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...