Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Chaoshan Beef Hotpot

We thought about just stay in for dinner nearby for a completely lazy vacation but at the end decided to go out to eat in the city center of Shenzhen. I was curious about the ever-popular Chao-shan Beef Hotpot scene in town so we hopped on a taxi and head towards one specialist restaurant called Fu He Cheng. We may have well passed the season for winter hotpot with temperature now in mid-20s but the place was still packed when we arrived slightly after 8pm.

We were seated after a quick 20 minute wait and we went straight to the menu and order. The restaurant specializes in Chau-shan-style beef hotpot from Chaozhou and Shantou region in the coastal north-eastern part of Guangdong Province. They use a simple broth base only prepared with beef bones, brisket and vegetables and focus on the ingredients using the freshest beef they could get hold of. Here it’s said to be butchered and delivered to the store multiple times daily so it came in the freshest condition without previously frozen or refrigerated to retain the best flavor (therefore it’s often known as Wen Ti Niu溫體牛, or warm-body beef with the meat still retaining the body temperature when it reaches the table)

The menu at Fu He Cheng came with a wide variety of different cuts, using special terminology. Despite some of them were sold out by the time we were seated and I am not familiar with the terms they use to describe the various cuts, we still got a good number of choices as I picked randomly from the menu. With all we have tried this evening I guess my favorite was the one called Diao Long Ban (吊龍伴), which I believed was the bottom of the ribeye with the strip of fat attached to the meat. It’s super tender and came with a clean fatty flavor too. In appearance Shi Ren (匙仁) looked even fattier with the fat marbled between the meat but I also love the texture of it with the meat cut slightly thick. Wu Hua Zhi (五花趾) was the shank near the hind legs – it’s cut paper-thin like what we do with Jamon Bellota – and came with a good bite.

Behind us was the condiment station which we could go and mix our own sauces – other than the usual choices of satay sauce, garlic, chilies and green onions, my favorite was the few drops of Szechuan pepper oil. It does give a good kick to go with the meat and vegetables we had. The restaurant was famous for its beef meatballs – they were handmade using the tender rump meat and known for its bouncy texture. They were indeed delicious. We also tried the tendon and intestine, plus a few other vegetables and their signature dried tofu sheet - with most of our beef in Hong Kong imported from mainland it’s rare that we managed to get hold of such fresh ingredients (and even if some restaurants do they were very expensive) so we probably ordered more than a fair share of those this time.

And now I am interested to maybe spend time exploring the Chaoshan region and check out more beef dishes and hotpot places at its origin next time.

When? March 30 2018
Where? Fuhecheng Beef Hotpot Restaurant, Shop 8, Binjiang Building, 14 Badeng Street. Futian District, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
百年老字號福合埕牛肉火鍋店 深圳福田區巴登街濱江大廈8號鋪

More pictures from our Shenzhen stay-cation: https://www.flickr.com/photos/g4gary/albums/72157689394723620

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