We Hong Kongers are useless when it comes to travelling outside of our comfort zones. Anything that involves more than ten minutes in a taxi or two stops on the MTR is considered far by any standards. When Time Out asked me to review Chiu Chow Mansion, a restaurant in Yau Tong, I had absolutely no idea where exactly Yau Tong was on a map and even considered turning it down.
We calculated that it was eight stops from Central, and therefore allowed ourselves 45 minutes to reach the restaurant; the journey took a mere 21 minutes!
Chiu Chow Mansion resides in a rather random brand new shopping centre called Domain. Where the biggest label is Esprit, this is a far more humble mall than the ones we’re used to, yet it still provides some delicious food that makes this frightfully long journey (ahem) worthwhile.
The huge space is modern and inviting, with high ceilings, exposed light bulbs and colourful seating areas. Despite it being a Tuesday night in a very random place, the whole restaurant was packed, although unsurprisingly we were the only gweilos.
Chiu chow cuisine is not too dissimilar to Cantonese, yet with an emphasis on fresh ingredients, not too much oil and mainly steamed or braised dishes, the flavours are much more subtle.
Our meal began with a plate of cold grey mullet. Normally cold fish wouldn’t excite me, yet this steamed fish was divine – perfectly tender and fresh. On its own it had an almost sweet flavour, which was incredible paired with the salty fermented bean sauce.
The fried grey mullet sprinkled with chilli and black beans was a little more tough than its steamed counterpart, yet not in an unpleasant way. Perhaps it was the black beans however that made it a little too salty to be able to manage much of it.
Although the deep-fried duck with taro offered more taro than duck (and what little duck there was was more fat than duck), the top crispy layer reminded me of one of my favourite dim sum dishes, wu gok, and I couldn’t resist taking the leftovers home for lunch the next day.
The stir-fried diced pigeon served with lettuce leaves is similar to a Cantonese dish I have loved since childhood. Yet perhaps due to the lack of that all-important hoisin sauce, the flavour was very delicate, maybe even verging on bland. Nonetheless, the contrast in textures, particularly with the chunks of water chestnut, was spot on.
It seems many Chinese regions have their own version of green beans with pickled vegetables and minced meat. The Chiu Chow version is less oily and has an interesting smoky flavour caused by the delicious pili nuts.
Where Chiu Chow Mansion really shone in presentation and creativity was with the steamed diced chicken wrapped with egg white. Although these weren’t the most flavoursome of dumplings, the fact that they were made not with regular dumpling skin but with a wafer-thin egg white omelette was highly impressive. The filling was delicate and comforting, made the more so by the thick egg white sauce.
Service at Chiu Chow Mansion was as good as it could be considering we didn’t understand the waiters and neither did they understand us. For far too much food for two people (and enough for lunch for two the following day!) we paid a total of only $508. I wouldn’t necessarily go rushing back to Chiu Chow Mansion just to relieve my hungry stomach… but then again I can probably blame that on my laziness rather than anything else. If for any reason you happen to find yourself in Yau Tong, definitely give it a try.
Chiu Chow Mansion
Shop 214, 2/F Domain
38 Ko Chiu Road
Tel: +852 2323 2292