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An exciting side of Chinese cuisine

Chiuchow, a coastal Chinese city, has its cuisine deeply ingrained in the delicate use of seafood and fish, which adds in exciting flavours to the ingredients while preserving the raw tastes.

Recommended restaurant, namely Chiuchow Garden Restaurant, serves both Chiuchow and Cantonese dishes, but is specialised in traditional interpretations of seafood in Chiuchow style.

The starter, green beans, tofu cubes, prickled vegetables and deep-fried peanuts served in sweet and spicy sauce, was strikingly appetizing that stimulated my taste buds with the light touch of spiciness. The combination of colours enlightened the dish and it had layers of textures that made the dish distinctive with its character. The sour smell was slightly overwhelming but it covered well the dullness of tofu and grassiness of beans.

More to come was the famous Chiuchow dish- Master Stock. In case you haven't heard of it, the Master Stock is a mingle of perfectly calculated proportions of soy sauce, rock sugar, Chinese herbs, garlic and ginger, that is very brown which gives colour and savoury taste to the braised meat. Served with goose and pigeon, it was a traditional dish you shouldn't miss. It was not heavily savoury, and the Chinese herbs and possibly Chinese wine did add into it tangible traces of sweetness felt at the tip of my tongue.

The deep fried shrimpballs is a witty dish that was served with honey syrup. I call it witty because the syrup had definitely made the dish popular among kids. The shrimpballs alone were neither surprising nor stimulating in terms of its flat taste but with the dipping, they worked really well together and alleviated the dish. Texture-wise, it was crunchy outside and chewy inside, shaped as if a ping-pong ball.

Yet again with seafood, the restaurant managed to make its traditional recipes stand out as resounding surprises. The porridge with tiny oysters was perfectly seasoned. It had a watery texture that differed from original Chinese porridge, but catered elderly diners who had dental difficulties. The crisped and salted fish was another recommendable dish. Fish were served in pieces and could be swallowed right away because the bones of the fish were already crisped like fries after intense deep frying. The salt magnified the raw taste of fish that made this dish outstanding in its own way.

The desserts added icing on the cake. We ordered red date puddings and sweet dumplings, served with lotus syrup fillings, a recurring ingredient for Chinese desserts. Red date is a Chinese herb that has stress alleviating effect, and a tender sweet taste. The layers of the pudding could be separated easily which made eating this dish fun. The sweet dumpling, on the other hand, could be slimy but it definitely worth the try. Once the flour lining was punctuated, syrup fillings erupted in my mouth and the sweetness was strong and overwhelming. Each dumpling was just the size of a coin, the small size in contrast with the tremendous joy devouring it.

The Chiuchow Garden is a restaurant chain in Hong Kong. The one I have just recommended is located at the basement of Jardine House, which neighbours the IFC mall in Central.

Hungry for more exotic Chinese cuisine? Stay tuned...

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Published on 3/27/11

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