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Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful… The fire under the sizzling claypots, that is. Claypot rice is a local cold weather delicacy that we simply cannot get enough of, and since sharing is caring, we have rounded up the best spots in Hong Kong for you to tuck into some classic claypot rice.
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Owner and head chef Wah Gor of Siu Wah Kitchen (紹華小廚) made his name cooking up classics at the famous Sun Tsui Wah Claypot Rice Restaurant (gone but not forgotten). You can find 20 of those beloved varieties here, in addition to 10 of Wah Gor’s own unconventional ingredient mixes, such as wild mushrooms & foie gras, Thai-style roasted pork neck, and Sichuan-style mala seafood. Wah Gor uses Thai rice as his base, and the rice is first soaked for an hour to cut down on the cooking time, then cooked on gas rings before the addition of a hearty amount of main ingredients, which is then finished off over charcoal. Don’t forget the soy sauce! The soy sauce at Siu Wah is specially mixed to be flavourful but not overpowering.
Siu Wah Kitchen (紹華小廚), Shop CF3, Aldrich Bay Market Cooked Food Centre, 15 Aldrich Bay Road, Shau Kei Wan | (+852) 8199 8188
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As night falls and the cold winds sweep Temple Street Market, the streets come alive with the smell of charcoal grills. You’re spoiled for choice along Temple Street when it comes to claypot rice, but we recommend going to the OG: Four Seasons Pot Rice (四季煲仔飯). Serving steaming hot pots to the people for over 30 years, Four Seasons maintains their authenticity by using traditional charcoal grills to cook their rice pots, and offering a strict menu of 30 local classics, such as chicken & Chinese sausage rice. Make sure you order a side of Teochew-style deep-fried oyster omelette, which Four Seasons makes with flavourful duck eggs and fresh oysters. The long queues outside that start from as early as 6 pm are a testament to the success of this decades-old restaurant.
Four Seasons Pot Rice (四季煲仔飯), 46–58 Arthur Street, Yau Ma Tei
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We’ll start this off by telling you that you should probably make a reservation at Kwan Kee (坤記煲仔小菜), especially if you’re headed to the original branch on Queen’s Road West. Helmed by Kwan Gor, who single-handedly looks after the 12 stovetops in the kitchen, Kwan Kee’s selection of 30 signature claypot rice dishes has earned them a Bib Gourmand distinction from the Michelin Guide.
Everything at Kwan Kee reflects Kwan Gor’s attention to detail, from the types of pots used (ceramic, which is more expensive but lasts longer) to the soy sauce (Kwan Gor insists on using Japanese Kikkoman soy sauce, which is then cooked down with ginger, scallions, and bone broth). Each claypot rice is made to order over the grill, but we promise the half-hour to one-hour wait is absolutely worth it when you uncover the pot and bask in the aromas and flavours that have really had time to develop. The crispy rice pieces at the bottom of the pot are on point here too.
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Wing Hop Sing (永合成馳名煲仔飯) is the claypot rice spot for those who need to shake off the cold earlier in the day. Open from 7 am to 4 pm on weekdays, Wing Hop Sing has all your claypot standards available, but their standout signature is the hand-chopped beef & egg rice. This pot has an amazing medley of mouthfeel and a surprising amount of depth of flavour considering the simplicity.
The hearty pot is cooked in a bread oven, which distributes heat more evenly and thus creates a simultaneously fluffier and crispier rice base, which is then topped with a hand-chopped and perfectly-sauced layer of beef. The egg is still raw when it arrives in front of you, and the sheer delight of mixing in the egg yolk and soy sauce with the beef and rice is enough to jumpstart your appetite (as if you weren’t starving already). Wash it all down with their Chinese soup of the day.
Wing Hop Sing (永合成馳名煲仔飯), 360 Des Voeux Road West, Shek Tong Tsui | (+852) 2850 5723
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Ask any Kennedy Town local for their claypot rice recommendation and they’ll more than likely point you in the direction of Sheung Hei (嚐囍煲仔小菜). Owner Hong Gor is relatively young, but the quality of the claypot rice at Sheung Hei is up to par with his older counterparts, as working alongside him is a former chef of Kwan Kee. He was inspired to open his own claypot rice restaurant after living above the famous Kwan Kee, and now Sheung Hei has also been recognized by the Michelin Guide for a Bib Gourmand distinction.
The claypot rice dishes here do not have any MSG added, using a combo of pig fat and both old and new rice to inject flavour into the dishes instead. It probably helps that Hong Gor’s family works in the dried seafood and tonic food markets, so you can eat assured that the quality of ingredients is ace. The charred rice at the end here really hits the spot and makes those long waiting times totally worth it. Go for the classics here, like the eel and field chicken combo or preserved sausage and spare ribs rice.
Sheung Hei (嚐囍煲仔小菜), 25 North Street, Sai Wan | (+852) 2819 6190
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Wing Kee (榮記茶餐室) is the place to go if you’re looking for a little creativity in your claypot rice dishes. Their claim to claypot fame is the “devilishly delicious” cheesy claypot rice, available with your choice of chicken, beef, or even luncheon meat. This cheesy creation is a great marriage between Western ingredients and Asian techniques; the end result is an indulgent dish filled with corn, onion, tender meat, and two types of cheese, topped with deep-fried bacon bits.
Not a fan of the unusual? Wing Kee has found a way to spice up the classics, with their flaming rose beef claypot rice. For all intents and purposes, it’s still a simple pot of fatty beef chuck flap slices and rice, but here’s the kicker: The chuck slices are arranged into the petals of a rose, then set aflame when brought to the table, leaving behind the subtle flavours of rosewater essence and rum. Needless to say, the rice in this dish (and all their other offerings) is crisped to perfection. Wing Kee has won the hearts of Tsz Wan Shan locals and beyond with their warm and welcoming service, as the business is run by the Li family and treats every guest as one of their own.
Wing Kee (榮記茶餐室), Shop A & B, G/F, 12 Yuk Wah Crescent, Tsz Wan Shan | (+852) 2328 9232
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Specializing in claypot rice and cheung fun (腸粉; steamed rice noodle rolls), eager diners brave the cold and queue for dinner at Chan Hon Kee (陳漢記粥麵專家). Chan Hon Kee is a truly beloved joint in Tai Po, sating those late-night carb cravings since the 1990s. The semi-open kitchen allows diners a peek into the rows and rows of stoves burning away, and they boast a two-page menu of over 50 claypot rice dishes, the largest out of the restaurants mentioned here. The combinations you can order are endless, including standard field chicken (frog), ribs, chicken, beef, preserved fishes and meats, as well as your choice of egg or salted duck egg. We love how the house-made soy sauce here is infused with garlic oil, and the ridiculous amount of toppings they put in each pot.
Chan Hon Kee (陳漢記粥麵專家), 91B Wan Tau Street, Tai Po | (+852) 6856 6044
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Fans of seafood rejoice, as Chuen Moon Kee (銓滿記餐廳小廚) specialises in seafood claypot rice dishes. Sourcing the seafood fresh daily from the nearby Mong Kok wet market, chef-owner Chuen Gor takes pride in his pots. Chuen Gor has a unique way of preparing Chuen Moon Kee’s claypot rice dishes, utilising electric stovetops to cook the rice first, then finishing cooking by tilt-shifting it on a gas stove. The most impressive part about the dishes here is how the crispy rice crust at the bottom can be taken out in one intact piece at the end, which can apparently then be eaten as a dessert.
All your favourite seafood dishes can be made claypot rice-style, including the classic juicy garlic prawn & vermicelli dish, with the vermicelli served on the side. The complimentary Chinese soups at Chuen Moon Kee are made according to a traditional Chinese doctor’s recipes and are chock-full of Chinese medicinal herbs to boost your immune system in the cold weather.
Chuen Moon Kee Restaurant (銓滿記餐廳小廚), G/F, Man Fok Building, 419 Reclamation Street, Mong Kok