One great thing about moving to Hong Kong is the ability to try so many different types of regional Chinese cuisines I had never tried before. One popular cuisine in Hong Kong is Chiu Chow cuisine (Teochew, 潮州 cháo zhōu), which originates from eastern Guangdong Province. The food is related to Fujian Chinese food but incorporates Cantonese influences. Known to be a lighter cuisine, Chiu Chow food focuses more on the natural flavors of the ingredients. The cuisine incorporates cooking techniques such as braising, steaming, and poaching more often and relies on marinades for flavor.
Pak Loh Chiu Chow is a well-established Chiu Chow restaurant in Hong Kong that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. This Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant has multiple locations around the city (two in Causeway Bay alone!) and executes very good Chiu Chow cuisine.
Before the meal begins, the server will bring over a very, very strong oolong tea called Tieguanyin 鐵觀音 (tiě guānyīn) in very tiny cups before the meal. If you're not used to caffeine or don't like bitter tea, you may want to skip this. Otherwise, it's a fun, fascinating, and very authentic way of starting the meal.
Pào fàn 泡飯, a type of rice porridge "soup" is a signature Chiu Chow dish. The one we ordered was an oyster rice porridge with minced pork and mushrooms. Supposedly they reserve the big oysters for the congee, while the smaller, sweeter ones go into the signature oyster omelettes.
Oyster omelettes are yet another signature Chiu Chow dish. The Chiu Chow version reminds me of the Fujian version (which is very similar to the version in Taiwan), but is different in many ways. The batter is made with sweet potato flour and a mixture of chicken and egg eggs. The omelet is abundantly full of small, flavorful oysters, and the omelet is served with a white pepper powder and a clear fish sauce. It's very good but I found that I enjoyed the version I tried at Come-Into Chiu Chow in Tsim Sha Tsui more. I found the version here to have a stronger oyster "fishy" flavor that I did not enjoy as much.
Marinated meats are another specialty of Chiu Chow cuisine. At Pak Loh, the Shitou goose is marinated using Pak Loh's special house-made marinade, a trade secret recipe that includes star anise, cinnamon, peppers, herbs and spices. I believe the version we ordered came over a bed of marinated tofu as well, which soaked up all the flavor and was also delicious.
We love rice cakes, and the spicy stir fried rice cakes in a clay pot were delicious.
For vegetables, we enjoyed the stir fried green beans with olive leaves and ground pork. The preserved olive leaves (橄欖菜) add a strong, salty umami to the dish.
I really enjoyed the textures and flavors of the thin noodles (麵線) with seafood.
General Thoughts - Pak Loh Chiu Chow Causeway Bay
Overall we enjoyed the food at Pak Loh. I especially enjoyed the rice porridge and the marinated goose + tofu, which was very special. I can see why it's a signature dish with a trade secret recipe. You can't go wrong if you order at least one of their marinated dishes. Though I didn't love their oyster omelet, I still think that overall the food is very enjoyable. All in all, I wouldn't hesitate to return here.
Pak Loh Chiu Chow Causeway Bay
23-25 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay
tel: 2576 8886
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