Cantonese Casserole Love

(Braised lamb at Kuen Fat Restaurant)

I ate a lot of casseroles on my last visit to Hong Kong. The weather wasn't particularly cold, but for some reason the restaurants my relatives chose for Chinese New Year get-togethers came with a lot of casserole specials. Not that I minded. Braised meats and sauces over rice are comfort food heaven.

Kuen Fat Restaurant in Sai Wan Ho is one of those rowdy, Chinese-menu-only restaurants where the Harbin beer girl comes around with your booze in a bucket. You almost need earplugs for all the high-decibel Cantonese conversation around you. We ordered 7 dishes, including 6 casseroles, some set over flames to maintain the heat. The lamb casserole had a nice light broth, less likely to put you in a food coma than Beijing or Dongbei lamb dishes. But the lamb needed about 15 minutes more of braising to be as tender as I'd like. The braised chicken with chestnuts, though, was well-cooked and coated in a slightly caramelized, just-thick-enough sauce.

(Braised chicken with chestnuts at Kuen Fat Restaurant)

Previously on this blog I have written about Tai Hing, a chain of upscale cha chaan tengs, upscale meaning it's clean, moderately priced, and serves more food than just noodles and pineapple buns. (They have a very good iced milk tea, served in a bowl of ice instead of with ice cubes to not dilute the flavor.) We also love going there for dinner. Tthe food is moderately priced, there's no 10% service charge, and each table has its own elementary-school-style drawers, filled with chopsticks and silverware.

Their lamb, thankfully, tasted as good as it cooked. It melted on first bite, skin and meat and braised oniony juices forming a perfect union.

(Braised lamb at Tai Hing)

Their braised eggplant with minced pork had bits of chili pepper and a surprising touch of lemongrass that elevated it from merely good to "wow, I need to figure out the recipe and make it every damn night."

The only bad part about hearty casseroles, and their abundant amounts of sauce, is running out of rice at the end.

(Eggplant with Minced Pork with Chili and Lemongrass at Tai Hing)

Kuen Fat Restaurant (權發飯店) 1/F 121-131 Shau Kei Wan Road Sai Wan Ho 西灣河筲箕灣道121-131號金寶大廈一樓 2513 0065

Tai Hing (太興燒味連鎖店) G/F 26-31 Tai On Building, 57-87 Shau Kei Wan Road Sai Wan Ho 西灣河箕灣道57-87號太安樓地下G26-31舖 2567 7362