Header image courtesy of @chopchophongkong (via Instagram)
Originally published by Inés Fung. Last updated by Jen Paolini, Annette Chan, and Celia Lee.
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, in addition to 10 of Wah Gor’s own unconventional ingredient mixes, such as wild mushrooms and 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. 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 and Chinese sausage rice.
Make sure you order a side of Chiuchow-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, 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.
Kwan Kee (坤記煲仔小菜), Shop 1, Wo Yick Mansion, 263 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun | (+852) 2803 7209
Ask any Kennedy Town local for their claypot rice recommendation and they will more than likely point you in the direction of Sheung Hei. 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 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
Fans of seafood rejoice! Chuen Moon Kee 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 and 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
While the above restaurants offer claypot rice dishes throughout the year, there are also several eateries across Hong Kong that do them seasonally during the winter months. Here are some of the best limited-time seasonal claypot rice menus to tuck into.
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 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 the exclusive silken tofu pot with mixed mushrooms the showcases the best seasonal ingredients the city has to offer in a nice little pot.
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. There’s not one, not two, but seven flavours of claypot rice for you to choose from Chop Chop’s seasonal menu this winter! Head over to the restaurant this December with a group of friends and try them all.
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 and steamed claypot rice with preserved meat; 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.
China Tang, Shop 411–413, 4/F, Landmark Atrium, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central | (+852) 2522 2148
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, Chef Wong’s winter specials menu also features three claypot rice dishes—assorted preserved air-dried meat claypot rice, a rich Chinese goose liver sausage with chicken fillet and red dates claypot rice, and a Kagoshima pork with dried tiger prawn and preserved vegetables claypot rice served with herbaceous parsley rice. Available until the end of February 2023.
Above & Beyond, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East | (+852) 3400 1318