People often think of traditional Chiu Chow cuisine as lacking in innovation and presentation. Even when the dishes are delectable, all you can think of is the classic marinated braised meat and pan fried oyster cake plus a definite lack of vegetarian options. For those of you unfamiliar with Chiu Chow food, it’s a type of Cantonese cuisine originating from Chiu Chow in the east of Guangdong province, China.
But all this impression changed for me last Sunday when I was in Lantau with friends, and one of them suggested that we try out Chao Inn, a Chiu Chow restaurant, at nearby Hong Kong International Airport (T2, Level 6, Non-restricted area).
Chao Inn not only offers tasty but innovative dishes whilst retaining the distinct traditional flavors of Chiu Chow cuisine. Bucking the usual Chiu Chow trend of a lack of vegetarian choices, Chao Inn is also happy to make many of its dishes meat-free on request.
The restaurant at the airport has a stylish modern décor creating a pleasant dining experience. But décor aside, and most importantly, what did we eat? The hungry amongst us plumped immediately for their signature Pan-fried E-fu Noodles, a classic Chiu Chow dish. The noodles were fried into a pancake shape till golden brown, the outside was crispy and the inside soft. They tasted superb! The traditional way to enjoy this dish is to dip the noodles into white sugar plus black vinegar, but I prefer to dip them into the sugar only, but of course, it really is up to you how you dunk your noodles.
Another famous Guangdong delicacy we ordered was the Vegetarian Pot in Preserved Soybean Sauce. This dish uses a variety of vegetarian ingredients including black fungi, soya sticks and vermicelli, all braised in a special marinated soybean sauce. The flavor was wonderfully rich, and very distinctive…even the carnivores were smacking their lips!
Next up was the Pan-fried Shredded Pumpkin dish (requested meat-free) and this definitely is a MUST! It’s a flour-based Chiu style pancake, blended with shredded pumpkin and green onions which are a perfect match, and most important of all, this one was not at all greasy, just simply appetizing!
And don’t worry we still had room for the renowned and revered Chiu style desserts including the beautiful Taro Puree with Gingko, the lovely Steamed Sweet Dumplings, and the refreshing Sliced Water Chestnut with Green Bean Agar Agar in Thin Syrup. What a perfect end to a perfect day. We left Lantau very happy and replete!
07:00 – 22:30
Your participation can help promote the global meat-free movement. Please fill in the questionnaire order to improve the quality of vegetarian food in Hong Kong International Airport.