Saturday, October 31, 2009
Tak Lung: Eat Your Fats
According to mother, we used to go to Tak Lung in San Po Kong all the time to celebrate Grandad’s birthday when I was still little. Funnily enough, I had absolutely zero recollection of the place. But lucky for me, I had the opportunity to revisit on Tuesday night and I was more than ready to reacquaint myself with the days I didn’t remember.
We started the night with the restaurant’s signature “Golden Coin Chicken,” which, for some reason, contains no gold, coin, OR chicken. Props to the guy who came up with the name for this dish. What this dish IS though, is a thick slice of pork fat, topped with a sliver of goose liver (rhyme!), a piece of chaxiu and a thin slice of ginger for good measure. This. Was. AWESOME. Really. The fatty pork was amazingly ungreasy, being rather, somewhat crisp on the bite before melting like a lovely, subtly savory jelly on the tongue (I’m told they used the fat from the back of the neck, which has an almost crunchy, elastic texture). The chaxiu and the thick sauce (also honey-based, I believe) had a wonderful lovely flavor that balanced out both the richness of the liver and the zing of the ginger. It was so good, I totally forgot that I was literally ingesting a solid piece of lard. Glam. No wonder this is a “must-order-in-advance” dish.
Next up was a nice plate of assorted chicken offal. Not bad I would say, but I’ve had better just last week in Shenzhen’s Yu Mi Zhou so I wasn’t completely blown away. Plus, it was a little on the salty side, especially the chicken intestine, which actually benumbed my tongue for a few seconds with its ultra-savoriness. So it was really good timing when the next course to come up was the Yunnan mushroom soup. This soup was the absolute real deal – I felt like a more wholesome person with just smelling the soup. And, as J said, it was really one of the most concentrated chicken broths we’ve ever had. It was like they managed to liquefy a whole chicken somehow… that may not be the most appetizing way to put it but it really was what it tasted like.
Chicken Roll” is made up of pork fat (again from the back of the neck) wrapped around some chicken meat and then – as if that weren’t enough – deep fried into crispy little golden boxes. Good? Yes. Healthy? Ha! This dish came with some random sausages and another stellar dish – “Golden Coin Eel”. Pork fat again, matched with a slice of eel and some crunchy diced water chestnuts. And though none of it tasted the least bit oily, I definitely think I officially clogged three arteries then and there. Probably good that the following course was a plate of greens…
sweet and sour pork dishes I’ve ever had. Already, the appearance (think a lovely, bright orange) was a winner. The pork was deep-fried to an absolutely perfect crunchiness but was warm and fluffy on the inside, retaining all its meaty juiciness without being covered by the flavors of the deep-fried flour coating or the tangy sauce. ‘Twas quite beautiful. And next came the most surprising dish of the night – I’m usually totally not into Chinese style cooked whole chicken so I wasn’t exactly excited about the chicken platter that was placed on our table. I took a small piece, bit into it, and…wow. Really wow. I am not making this up – the chicken tasted like bacon. It was absolutely amazing. It was the first time I’ve ever had smoked chicken and really, I have to say it again, wow.
clams in spicy sauce with a buckload of chopped chives. A nice gesture but a confusing flavor. I think steaming with a little rice wine may have been nicer as the sauce had a strange sandy and overly-bold flavor that covered up the freshness of the clams. Thinking the meal was close to ending, a giant pot was brought to our table, set over a mini stove. This smelt so good, bubbling away. They lifted the heavy cover to reveal a beautiful scene of braising taro and goose. The goose was nice, yes, but it was completely and utterly overshadowed by the chunks of sandy-soft taro. Of course, being a tarophile, I’m naturally biased towards the tuber, but I wasn’t the only one on the table waxing lyrical about ‘em. Soft without being mushy, subtly sweet with a wonderful aroma… this was my single favorite food item of the night.
veggies arrived, bathed in a fish broth and topped with a hefty portion of small shrimps. Nothing to write home about but a welcoming dish to a fat-laden meal nonetheless. And to officially end the night, we were presented with a super-random Japanese-Italian fusion, cheese sauce udon noodles dish. But by this point, I was way past stuffed to try this but I believe I may not have missed out much by skipping out on this final course.
And there goes the end of an amazing meal. I guess I really should be berated for having no recollection of a restaurant this awesome. But then again, I was what? Six of seven years old back then…at an age where I would prefer eating rocks over a slab of foie gras. I will use that as my justification. And when my cholesterol level’s started to level off again, I will make it a point to come back here again.
Thanks Isaac for organizing!
ATMOSPHERE: 4/5 (the night of the dinner); 2/5 (restaurant itself)
TAK LUNG ($$$)
25-29 Hong Keung Street
San Po Kong