Sunday, May 1, 2016

Claypot Rice at Kwun Kee (坤記煲仔小菜)

I went to dinner with my mom at Kwun Kee in Sai Ying Pun recently.  There are two locations - this is a review of my experience of the shop at Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen's Road West.  We had made reservations, but we still had to wait for a bit when we got there.
It is an old shop that is very well known for their claypot rice and variety of skillet foods.  Claypot rice is exactly what it sounds - rice is cooked in a clay pot and then fired up and "grilled".  Kwun Kee grills theirs on an old traditional charcoal grill, so that the bottom of the rice gets a nice layer of "crust" and everything in the pot evinces a slightly smoky flavor.  The fat from the chicken/sausage/beef etc. oozes down into the rice as it cooks and makes everything very hearty.

I think it would be good to go there with a group of people, because then you can order a few different things.  
The trick is to order some other food - like vegetables,  salt and pepper squid, maybe a hotpot (and maybe a round of ice cold brews) to keep you occupied while the clay pot rice cooks (it takes a while).  The other important thing to remember with this place is to go when you're not yet hungry.  The wait can be substantial, and with clay pot rice taking a long time to cook, you are looking at a potentially very long time period spent in the super-hungry-low-blood-sugar danger zone.

We ordered snow peas sautéed with Chinese celery, mushrooms and squid to start.  It was tasty - fresh and light and tender.  I liked the liberal use of ginger and garlic throughout.

This is the fish head with tofu, pork belly and mushroom.  The fish was very fresh and the lettuce on the bottom had a very smoky, slightly charred flavor.

We got two claypots - one of the white eel with pork, and the other (not pictured) was a takeaway for Michael, with sausage.

Their white eel is so tender!  Wow!  I loved it.  It was fresh and light and paired really well with the black bean sauce.

I can't wait to come back, but in a bigger group - I am definitely going to try their beef with raw egg claypot rice, the skillet of watercress shoots (someone else ordered it and I could smell it from two tables over), a chicken and sausage claypot rice,  and their pork bone hotpot.  Oh, and maybe their chicken with green onions and red chili peppers…oh and definitely their eel again!

The meal came in at HK$322 for four dishes, but it's really not bad considering the value and taste and atmosphere of the restaurant.  Despite the rather dodgy exterior, the ingredients were very fresh, likely due to the high turnover.

Kwun Kee
G/F, Wo Yick Mansion
263 Queen's Road West
Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong
+852 2803 7209

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