I was first introduced to Pun Choy or Big Bowl Feast when I watched a HK documentary on TV many years ago and is a long-standing tradition in new Territories, Hong Kong. Various types of ingredients are cooked separately before being arranged in a large metal washing bowl. I remembered clearly the host was explaining that ingredients such as pork skin, taro, beancurd sheets and radish must be put in the bottom so that all these could absorb all the flavours from the ingredients on top which usually consists of pork, chicken, duck, fish maw, prawns, abalone, etc. I remembered my mouth watered when I saw how juicy those slices of radish were. LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!
For more information, I did a quick research and found some interesting historical background on Pun Choy’s origin and for easy reading, I extracted information from the following sites:
Extracted from wikipedia
It was said that Poon Choi was invented during the late Song Dynasty. When Mongol troops invaded Song China, the young Emperor fled to the area around Guangdong and Hong Kong. To serve the Emperor as well as his army, the locals collected all their best food available, cooked it, and put it in wooden washing basins. By doing so Poon Choi was invented.
Extracted from Slow Food in Hong Kong
The story goes that pun choi began as the food eaten by those who, because of social hierarchy, were not allowed to dine inside the main hall of the walled village. Delicacies were passed to them in the adjoining courtyard, each dish placed inside the same large bowl.
Nowadays, Pun Choy is often served during festivals, weddings or other special occasions in open area of villages in New Territories. Good news for those who are interested to try the real McCoy, there is a yearly huge pun choi feast being held in the Tang Ancestral Hall in Ping Shan. Ahem, for more details, you have to Google that yourself and please let me know if you can find any information on that cos I am KEEN to try!
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE!
In Kuala Lumpur, one of the best places to have Pun Choy is at LYJ Restaurant in Sg Buloh. Their Pun Choy feeds between 10 - 12 pax and it comes in either normal version (RM230) or deluxe version (RM480) in which the latter version comes with more luxurious ingredients such as two big abalones, half a suckling pig, scallops and sharks' fin omelet.
Our deluxe Pun Choy was served in a rather shallow stainless steel basin and it was heated up using a portable gas stove. The neat arrangement of the various ingredients was really a feast to behold. We can't see what is underneath the pot and the upper layer was filled with half portion of suckling pig, poached chicken and roasted duck, deep-fried stuffed Threadfin, 2 large abalones, broccolis and cauliflowers, 12 huge prawns, and a basket made of fried vermicelli filled with scallops and sharks' fin omelet. We were supposed to attack the top layer first, especially suckling pig and roasted duck in order to enjoy its crispiness. However, we were too eager to explore the hidden treasures, and hence, everything was tossed up like 'rojak'. I didn't quite mind though, because I was one of the 'digger' or was it 'mixer'? The inner layer consists of braised stuffs such as braised trotter, braised pork belly, shitake mushroom, abalone mushroom, shellfish, braised chicken feet, konyaku noodle and taufu-pok. Big thumbs up for their braised trotter as I enjoyed it very much. It was braised to perfection; meat was soft and tender while the pig's skin and tendons are still chewy with a slight bouncy texture. The Braised Pork Belly was quite good too with a slight hint of mixed spice powder. The gravy was flavourful and delicious, best to go with white rice!
Since the Pun Choy was overloaded with meat, stir-fry potato leaves and raw lettuces were given as side dish. I didn't try since I was busy with the Pun Choy but according to Boolicious, it was quite oily.
I was pretty satisfied with the Pun Choy although slightly disappointed as I was looking forward to savour some flavoured-infused radish. The Pun Choy gave me a sense of unity and togetherness through sharing the same pot, hence a perfect dish to have for the coming Chinese New Year. Definitely a memorable experience for me!
Booking a day in advance is necessary. Apart from dining-in, you can even opt to have your Pun Choy take-away to be reheated at home. I have tried their other dishes too such as their signature Claypot Grass Carp which is quite good! Check out my review here.
PT 11, Jalan Perkhidmatan, Kg Baru, 47000 Sungai Buloh.
Tel: 03-6140 2698
Operating hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.00pm to 10.oo pm.
Closed on Monday nights and during CNY.
Still not clear how to get there? Here is the direction as borrowed from Lyrical Lemongrass:
"Finding this restaurant can be a nightmare if you’re not familiar with the Sungai Buloh area. If you’re driving along Jalan Batu Tiga Sungai Buloh (off Jalan Sungai Buloh), shortly after the army camp (on the right) is a right turning to Jalan Welfare. If you see Loong Kee Bak Kut Teh and a petrol station soon after that, you will know that you have gone beyond the turning. Once you are on Jalan Welfare, keep going even if you think you’ve arrived at another country. Jalan Perkhidmatan is on the left".
For more review on the Pun Choy, check this out:
LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION!