Adventures in East Asia

Traditional Poon Choi Basin Meal at Tai Mei Tuk Village

Dinner today was served up at the nearby Tai Mei Tuk in the New Territories. Since it was Chinese New Year, my parents arranged to meet up with a friend's family to have what's called a "basin meal" or "poon choi" at the specialist Chung Shing (Poon Choi) restaurant (located at the furthest end of the row of restaurants).


Poon Choi is a traditional Chinese food mostly served in rural villages during festivals, special occasions and weddings. It consists of many layers of different ingredients cooked and served in one large basin. It is meant to be eaten layer by layer instead of "stirring everything up", but impatient diners may pick around in for their favourite bits using shared chopsticks.

The origin of Poon Choi from Wikipedia

It was said that Poon Choi was invented during the late Song Dynasty. When Mongol troops invaded Song China, the young Emperor fled to the area around Guangdong and Hong Kong. To serve the Emperor as well as his army, the locals collected all their best food available, cooked it, and put it in wooden washing basins. By doing so Poon Choi was invented.

The restaurant itself is typical of restaurants in Tai Mei Tuk, which aside from a covered seating area, is more or less outside. Chairs and tables and the decor are therefore quite basic.

Our Poon Choi arrived quite quicky since the meal is prepared in advance, and the big bowl is placed on top of a gas burner to heat it up. During this process, we stir and poke it a little to check how hot it is before getting stuck in. We had ordered the "Classic Regional Poon Choi" which included ingredients such as fish balls, fish fillet, chicken, tofu, squid, lotus root, pig's skin, black mushroom, turnips, pork, radish, duck and prawns.

I was surprised that I hadn't heard of this meal before, let alone eaten it. Having gone through the experience, I'm not sure I'd like it often however. There's a lot of food with the same kind of sauce, since its in the same bowl, and there isn't any rice to disperse the richness of the taste.

After the meal, Linh and I took the opportunity to cycle around Tai Mei Tuk at night and take a few shots.



This entry posted in : Culture. Events. Food. Hong Kong. New Territories. Tourism.

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