Tuesday, January 22, 2008


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.

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!

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.

LYJ is located at:
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:


tekko said...

RM480 if really enough for 10 - 12 pax still okay, think i will like this but not too sure cause my first try was in KL years ago, just so so only.

Big Boys Oven said...

a very unique dish just like the hot & cold dish but a bit expensive ley!

ekeng said...

Ooooolala....Got two big abalones for RM230 only..i really wanna convince my Hongkies boss to treat us this luxury pun choy ;P

Crunchasarus Rex said...

I would love to try .. the ones in Malaysia.. :) the only ones i've tried were in Guangzhou .. and Hong Kong.

Precious Pea said...

tekko: More than enuff for 12 pax. In fact, we couldn't finish the pot.

bbo: Err..the deluxe version to be shared among 12 people, only about RM40 each...reasonable price to pay for a new experience, no?

ekeng: No la...RM230 is normal version. No abalone, no suckling pig, no scallops, no fins. If you want all that, it's RM480.

crunchasarus rex: Hahaha...and I would like to try...the one in Guangzhou and Hong Kong!

Nic (KHKL) said...

yupe, yupe...they tend overuse oil in most of the stir-fry dishes. very "flavourful" too, right? salty, i mean..hehehe...but the poon choy is really worth the money :)

Imbi & Itchy said...

never get the chance to eat them yet, need a biggggggg group to try them .. but looks really worth it with all the goodies!

ling239 said...

no map ah ? aiseh.... @_@

Christy said...

Ooo....Pun Choy here too!:D
Still thinks it's really a huge portion:p

Jason said...

I think this is not really popular in Ipoh. Poor Ipohans.

♥ ♡ Alvin ♡ ♥ said...

wah! the abalone so big! Satu orang satu biji then perfect!

Precious Pea said...

nic (khkl): Worth rite? It might sound expensive but when you share with 11 other friends, it's pretty reasonable.

imbi & itchy: I got a suggestion. Why not you create a homemade mini version?

ling239: Sadly, I don't have any. But when there is a will, there is a way! Hahaha..for food, we venture and conquer!!

christy: I seriously think that it can feed 14 pax!

jason: U can tar-bau back to Ipoh,
you know ;)

alvin: Haha..wahh...you are so greedy leh! Haha! I think shouldn't be a problem...probably only extra RM100 per pax! Hehehe!

Simon Seow said...

I had a so call "Poon Choy" in a restaurant in Hong Kong. Not authentic one. My aunt who's married to Yuen Long resident say the real one have to book one day in advance and it's in Yuen Long which is quite far from the city. Anyone want to organize a Poon Choy food crawl?

Furkids in Hong Kong said...

Glad you enjoyed your poon choi!

Simon seow is correct with where to get authentic poon choi. Though looking simple to make, it is actually quite the opposite - especially in the timing of cooking and the taste and texture of the sauce. One of the more famous village in Yuen Long that makes them is called 'Ma Tin' (horse field). There are others though.

If you're interested, I posted about an open-air poon choi new years celebration we attended in '06 and '07 in the village of Tong Fuk. More than 1000 villagers attended! You can find it by searching 'poon choi'!

I'll be there again this CNY. If you and your hubby can make it this, or next CNY, I'll be glad to take you there if you want! :D


Furkids in Hong Kong said...

Sorry, should have clarified that you can search poon choi on my blog - not yahoo or google :p


~Christine~Leng said...

whoa.. i've never ever had pun choy before ;P thought this is only available in HK. A great experience indeed!! :)

Precious Pea said...

Christine: Chuai Heng Restaurant also got Pun Choy for eat in and takeaway but not too sure if it's good or not.

furkids in HK: OOo..that's a very tempting invitation. Probably not this Chinese New Year but maybe next year? Would really want to try the authentic version, somemore eating with 1000 villagers! Will hop over to your blog to look for your post soon. :)

simon: Haha...you mean...food trip to HK for Pun Choy??

teckiee said...

If i were u all.. i'll dig also. Cos what if im full before reaching the bottom?

tigerfish said...

I like Poon Chai and only knew about it few years back, when my mum brought us to a eatery/restaurant in Chinatown Singapore. It was very good! Delicious!

Precious Pea said...

tigerfish: I didn't know it's popular in Singapore too!

teckiee: Hahaha..true true true. Actually the inside much nice than the outside.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

never heard of this dish but wish i can try it now..will take down the address along with tt of King Crab for my next trip to KL.


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