Header images courtesy of Duddell’s and Rosedale Hotels
Originally published by Inés Fung. Last updated by Jen Paolini and Annette Chan.
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.
Owner and head chef Wah Gor made name for himself cooking up classics at the famous Sun Tsui Wah Claypot Rice Restaurant (gone but not forgotten). 20 of those beloved varieties can now be found at Siu Wah Kitchen (紹華小廚), 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; the rice is first soaked for an hour, then cooked on gas rings before the addition of main ingredients, 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
As night falls and 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 its authenticity by using traditional charcoal grills to cook its 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
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 are 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 the restaurant 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.
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 the classics available, but their signature is the hand-chopped beef & egg rice, with an amazing mouthfeel and a surprising 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 at the table, and the sheer delight of mixing in the egg yolk and soy sauce with the beef and rice is enough to jumpstart your appetite. 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
Ask any Kennedy Town local for their claypot rice recommendation and they will 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 recognised 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 combo of eel and field chicken or preserved sausage and spare ribs rice.
Sheung Hei (嚐囍煲仔小菜), 25 North Street, Sai Wan | (+852) 2819 6190
Wing Kee (榮記茶餐室) is the place to go if you’re looking for a little creativity in your claypot rice. Its 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, 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 of 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
Specialising in claypot rice and 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. Its 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 all 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 into each pot.
Chan Hon Kee (陳漢記粥麵專家), 91B Wan Tau Street, Tai Po | (+852) 6856 6044
Fans of seafood rejoice! Chuen Moon Kee (銓滿記餐廳小廚) specialises in seafood claypot rice dishes, sourcing its ingredients fresh from the nearby wet market. Chef-owner Chuen Gor has a unique way of preparing Chuen Moon Kee’s claypot rice dishes, utilising electric stovetops to first cook the rice, then finishing it off by tilt-shifting the rice 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 of 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. Chuen Moon Kee also makes complimentary soups according to the recipes of a traditional Chinese doctor and are chock-full of medicinal herbs to boost your immune system.
Chuen Moon Kee Restaurant (銓滿記餐廳小廚), G/F, Man Fok Building, 419 Reclamation Street, Mong Kok
If you love your claypots spicy, then look no further than Chilli Fagara, which has released a range of claypot dishes featuring the “finest bounty of the sea and land.” Bubbling away happily in earthenware pots, the dishes are served over a tabletop flame. Order a side of steamed jasmine rice ($16) to go with it for the full experience (which we would recommend chucking straight into the pot and fluffing around to get that perfect crispy rice char).
Try a modern take with the Sichuan-style stewed chicken pot with numbingly spicy preserved sausages ($288) and the fiery oxtail pot ($288) braised with garden-fresh vegetables in a 10-year Shaoxing wine; for something extra-hearty, the Mongolian mutton stew pot ($388) is a must-try (and available both spicy and non-spicy).
Chilli Fagara has also kept vegetarians and vegans in mind with two plant-based claypot dishes; take your pick from the flaming trio mushroom pot ($188) with fresh holy basil simmered in a “jacked” chilli sauce—featuring jackfruit, “heaven-facing” chilli, and broad bean paste—or the braised tofu pot ($198) with Chinese leeks and carrots. Available until the end of February 2022.
Chilli Fagara, 7 Old Bailey Street, Central | (+852) 2796 6866
Chop Chop is presenting not one, not two, but eight claypot rice dishes to keep you warm this winter! Chef Dai Lung—a.k.a. the Hong Kong “God of Cookery”—is keeping his contemporary interpretations of the classic Hong Kong delicacy simple and nourishing, focusing on premium ingredients and produce to tell a flavourful tale.
Using “first-born eggs” laid by young hens for richer yolks and higher protein value, famously fragrant rice from Wuchang that yields only one harvest a year, and all-natural soy sauce that has been fermented for two years, Chop Chop presents the white eel and black bean claypot ($125), the frog leg with ginger and scallions claypot ($125), the chicken, shiitake & Chinese yam claypot ($85), the waxed duck leg claypot ($85), and the unmissable signature Sorrowful Rice claypot ($85), all available for dine-in or takeaway at shockingly affordable prices. To enhance your claypot, you can also opt for add-ons such as extra shiitake mushroom, Japanese egg, Chinese preserved sausages, chicken, and pork ribs. Available until the end of February 2022.
At China Tang Landmark, diners can find all manner of nourishing dishes replete with prized Cantonese ingredients on executive chef Menex Cheung’s winter menu. Find refined versions of winter solstice favourites in the braised lamb brisket stew with bean curd stick, bamboo shoot, crispy bean curd roll, and seasonal vegetables ($888) and steamed claypot rice with preserved meat ($588); the latter, which comes in a claypot seasoned with a few drops of pork fat on the lid to enhance its appetite-whetting aroma, features an irresistible combination of steamed rice, preserved duck, Chinese sausages, and homemade soy sauce. Available until 14 January 2022.
China Tang, Shop 411–413, 4/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 2522 2148
From its Winter Warmers Casserole Delights menu, Yat Heen at the Alva Hotel in Sha Tin is offering a whopping nine options for its seasonal claypot rice dishes. Perhaps the most luxurious—which is sure to please dried seafood lovers—is the claypot rice with assorted dried seafood ($388 per person), which includes prized delicacies such as abalone, sea cucumber, and fish maw for a thoroughly nourishing treat.
Other classic Cantonese flavour combinations can be found in the claypot rice with barbecued Ibérico pork and fried egg ($138 per person) and claypot rice with air-dried sausage and spare ribs ($148), while more fusion-inspired options include the claypot rice with cheese, beef, and egg ($138 per person) and claypot rice with Italian spicy sausage and chicken ($148 per person). Available until 23 January 2022.
Yat Heen, 2/F, Alva Hotel by Royal, 1 Yuen Hong Street, Sha Tin | (+852) 3653 1112
Planning a private gathering this winter? Gather your nearest and dearest for a cosy evening of seasonal winter specials at Above & Beyond, Hotel Icon’s prestigious Cantonese restaurant. Besides the classic fried glutinous rice with preserved Chinese sausage ($238), Chef Wong’s winter specials menu also features three claypot rice dishes—Chinese preserved duck and sausage claypot rice ($268), a rich Chinese goose liver sausage and chicken fillet claypot rice ($248), and a minced Wagyu beef claypot rice ($318) fragranced with tangerine peel and served with herbaceous parsley rice. Available until the end of February 2022.
Above & Beyond, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East | (+852) 3400 1318
Located in Central Market, Lottajoy is living up to its name with a seasonal menu of warming dishes, including everyone’s winter solstice favourite, stir-fried glutinous rice with preserved meats ($78), and a host of claypots. Enjoy the dried shrimp and sliced pork claypot rice ($98) or assorted preserved meats claypot rice ($88) for a taste of the classic “bo jai fan,” or get the non-rice claypot dishes like braised lamb belly with mushroom and bamboo sheet in claypot ($148) or wonton chicken soup in claypot ($128) for something a little different.
Lottajoy, Shop G11, Dining Ground, Central Market, 93 Queen’s Road Central, Central