Monday, February 27, 2017

Chiuchow Dimsum Lunch

Not until I arrived at the door of Chiu Tang, the new Chiuchow restaurant in Central, for a Saturday lunch tasting did I realize Island Tang has shut for good and Chiu Tang actually took up its place. From my distant memory I think Island Tang was quite decent, so the closure was a surprise to me, but then I have heard good things about the original Chiu Tang branch in Wanchai and I was curious how this new branch will fare with a more central location.

I thought the décor didn’t change much from the old Island Tang days, with the retro interior reminiscent of an old Cantonese tea-house. But as I walked in, I could immediately smell the unmistakable aroma of star anise, Szechuan peppers and cloves, the staple ingredient of the classic Chiuchow marinate, coming from the kitchen.

With a big table of us we managed to go through quite a bit of food for an afternoon. They have a pretty long a la carte menu with classic Chiuchow/Teochew dishes from the family-style stir-fry to double-boiled soup, all the way to the extravagant delicacies such as Bird’s Nest soup, abalones and crabs.

During lunch time they also have dimsums available, which were what we started with the day we were there. In Hong Kong with significant congregation of Chiuchow natives, there’s quite a number of Chiuchow restaurants around, but I have not seen a better dimsum menu than the one at Chiu Tang, with so many specialty choices available. That included the usual suspects such as the classic Chiuchow dumplings or the steamed glutinous rice rolls with preserved meat and dried shrimp, and the rarely seen items such as png kueh, the flat-shaped glutinous rice dumplings characterized by its pinkish color, with dried shrimps and peanuts filling, or the savory-type deep-fried golden dumpling (the more common one was the sweet type). I thought the bite-sized png kueh was by far my favorite, with a soft and delicate “skin” and tasty filling.

I wasn’t normally a fan of taro cake, but the one here, made with julienned taro rather than mashed before being pan-fried, has impeccable texture with the crispy top and chunky middle. On the other hand, I thought the spring rolls were only so-so – it’s said to have baby oyster inside, but I only got the taste of the pork filling with strong hint of spices.

After the whole table full of dimsums, we moved on to other a la carte dishes. Needless to say, my clear favorite was the Chiuchow marinate platter. A few different items were presented on the plate, including the goose liver, pork intestine and belly. The goose liver has incredibly soft texture but with a good bite, unlike say, a French foie gras dish. And the marinate was as good as its aroma that filled the restaurant, with a mild but complex taste from the scores of ingredients that went in.

And all these dishes were paired with a fabulous champagne of Krug Grande Cuvee. Rich, toasty with gripping acidity, plenty of lemon zest on the palate, and on the nose, refreshing floral aroma and the hint of exotic spices (cloves, cumin) which made the bottle especially great with the Chiuchow marinate. Of course, that's not to say I didn't enjoy the signature Chiuchow tea as much - there's nothing more appropriate to end a fine Chiuchow lunch with the finest Dancong Oolong tea prepared for us by the table, served on the traditional small teacup.

(Meal was by invitation and courtesy of the restaurant)

When? February 25 2017
Where? Chiu Tang, 2/F The Galleria, 9 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Chiuchow Marinated Platter and Goose Liver
Drinks? Champagne Krug Grande Cuvee MV

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