February 22, 2008

A Chilly Night, and a Sloppy Dish

Filed under: Themed — lynettechng @ 3:49 pm

On the weekend, I was invited to a friend’s place in the New Territories for the very traditional Hong Kong countryside dish of 盆菜 (or Poon Choi, in Cantonese, which is literally translated as Basin Dish,). This is usually consumed during the Chinese Lunar New Year, and seeing as today is the last day of the new year, I figured that it was an apt time to post. 

I’m Chinese, albeit one with diluted knowledge of her customs and traditions. And I was psyched to try this new dish, which I had never before tried! I had heard all about it, and could not wait to finally have a taste. 

I arrived in Fanling, a town in the New Territories, bright and early (alright, it was half past 2 in the afternoon, but it was a Saturday, and deemed to be considered early enough), and after a quick and tasty lunch of 点心 (Dim Sum,), we headed off to one of the little villages for an afternoon of mahjong (considered to be Hong Kongs national hobby!). I was learning the game, and I lost $40. Enough said. 

Dinner time rolled by soon enough, and we all bundled up in coats and jackets and headed down to the car park. Yes, you heard right. Car park. The management had cleared the lots of cars, and set up 25 tables and a stage for karaoke! Fun!  The main attraction was brought out. A whole heaping basin full of food! Layer upon layer of good stuff like pork, beancurd, radish, dried beancurd skin, mushrooms, fishball, big fresh water prawns, chicken, duck I could go on and on!! It was all simmered in a lovely broth, and was bubbling away. The heat a sweet reprieve from the cold and the chill! 

Alright, I know It doesnt look like much. Actually, it looks like a whole bowl of cohesive gunk but then again, Chinese good isnt popular for its presentation. Its all about the taste and flavour, and this dish had it in spades! Its not fine dining., but standing around a table with 12 other people, eating out of a basin (that is a friend is to be believed, was the basin that people used to wash their feet in in the past!!), BLISS! The camaraderie amongst friends, the general good feelings from surrounding tables I just cant find the right words to describe it. It just has to be experienced. 

Happy New Year, everyone!! May the year of the Rat bring you and yours good health, wealth and prosperity!

**Edit: Apologies for the terrible lighting of the photos. I did my best with minimal light, in semi-darkness, in a parking lot!!


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