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Cantonese Cooking & Traditions

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#91 SuzySushi

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 04:08 PM

I've never had Cantonese-style curry as a stew, but several recipes I have for other Cantonese-style curry dishes (curried chicken wings, curry filling for bao) call for a little bit of oyster sauce and ketchup in addition to curry powder. These might be the flavorings you're missing in your recipe.
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#92 jo-mel

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 06:40 PM

Do you know if he used regular supermarket style curry powder ---- of if he used one of the complex curry pastes? Big flavor differences.

Looking thru several books, I see that onions are sauteed with curry powder. When the dish is put together, a little dark soy is added along with chicken broth and a thickener.

Deh-Ta Hsiung mentions Chinese curry dishes usually contain potatoes, but said that they are usually omitted in Chinese restaurants and he doesn't include them in the recipe he gives. His recipe has marinated chicken, garlic, onions, curry, stock, dark soy and optional chili sauce.

Miller's "1000 Recipe" book has potatoes, but no soy. Just chicken, potatoes, oil, curry, water and salt.

Mai Leung's "Classic Chinese Cookbook" doesn't specify Cantonese (neither did the others) but she uses onions and potatoes AND a combo of curry powder and curry paste.

One last one from Lilah Kan's casserole book which uses onions, carrots, potatoes and celery. Thin soy sauce in this one as well as sherry, garlic, ginger, curry powder, chili powder, tomato paste and broth. It is a braised dish.

Any of them sound familiar?

#93 hzrt8w

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 10:23 PM

I grew up in Hong Kong. Many local restaurants serve curry dishes. I think I know what you mean by Cantonese curry. But there are many ways curry is made in Hong Kong too, depending on what kind of restaurant you walk into (the traditional Chinese (Cantonese) restaurants, or Hong Kong "Western" restaurants).

Typically, the traditional Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would make curry like this:

Marinate the beef with soy, ground white pepper, ShaoHsing wine, corn starch and such. First velvet in oil til 50% cooked. As typical for Chinese stir-fries. Remove.

Heat up the wok at high temperature, add cooking oil, add minced garlic and wedged onion, then add curry powder (usually Madras kind), salt and chicken broth or a bit of water. Add cubed potato (need to be cooked separately first because potatoes take longer to cook). Bring the ingredients to a boil, add wedged green bell peppers and use corn starch to thicken the sauce. At last return the beef and mix with the ingredients.

For the curry in Hong Kong "Western" restaurants, then the curry recipes vary. Most would add coconut milk following the Southeast Asian style, or add lemon grass, lime juice and shallots following the Vietnamese style, or add shrimp paste, sa cha sauce, or other ingredients as well.

All these are very different, of course, from the Indian styles of curry.
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#94 HarryOhm

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 04:52 PM

I grew up in Hong Kong.  Many local restaurants serve curry dishes.  I think I know what you mean by Cantonese curry.  But there are many ways curry is made in Hong Kong too, depending on what kind of restaurant you walk into (the traditional Chinese (Cantonese) restaurants, or Hong Kong "Western" restaurants).

Typically, the traditional Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong would make curry like this:

Marinate the beef with soy, ground white pepper, ShaoHsing wine, corn starch and such.  First velvet in oil til 50% cooked.  As typical for Chinese stir-fries.  Remove.

Heat up the wok at high temperature, add cooking oil, add minced garlic and wedged onion, then add curry powder (usually Madras kind), salt and chicken broth or a bit of water.  Add cubed potato (need to be cooked separately first because potatoes take longer to cook).  Bring the ingredients to a boil, add wedged green bell peppers and use corn starch to thicken the sauce.  At last return the beef and mix with the ingredients.

For the curry in Hong Kong "Western" restaurants, then the curry recipes vary.  Most would add coconut milk following the Southeast Asian style, or add lemon grass, lime juice and shallots following the Vietnamese style, or add shrimp paste, sa cha sauce, or other ingredients as well.

All these are very different, of course, from the Indian styles of curry.

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Thank you so much, hzrt8w! Finally a recipe for curry chicken that I think will lead me to my personal favorite version of the dish!

There used to be a Chinese restaurant in Marietta, Ga called "Happy Family" and their Curry Chicken was to die for. No potatoes there, just lots of bell peppers and onions and water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. No breast meat either, just lots of cubed thigh meat!

I know they used Javin brand curry powder...but always wondered how they made the dish. I experimented with the powder at home but never even came close. The sauce was dark dark brown, not the typical yellowish stuff you find most places.

#95 hzrt8w

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 05:12 PM

Thank you so much, hzrt8w! Finally a recipe for curry chicken that I think will lead me to my personal favorite version of the dish!
[...]

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Didn't know there is an interest in a Cantonese (Hong Kong) rendition of curry... it arose my interest... time to make this dish again and perhaps snap some pictures. :smile:
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#96 sheetz

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 06:19 PM

One of my favorite things to order at the HK-Cantonese BBQ restaurants is curry beef stew over rice. Mmmmm.

#97 wesza

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 06:22 PM

The types of "Curry Powder" utilized in most Chinese Restaurants in Hong Kong and the States are the types relatively inexpensive that contain larger proportions of "Yellow Ginger" (Turmeric) then the Indian variations.

Its milder, has a taste that adapts well to "Singapore Noodles" and other dishes served with variations of Curry sauces such as "Fishballs" or the very popular "Chicken Curry" offered by most Chinese Restaurants. Almost anyplace will prepare if requested a Beef, Shrimp or Pork Curry but the Chicken is most popular.

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#98 jo-mel

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 06:53 PM

Have any of you used the curry pastes? There are so many choices. Different colors and different potencies.

Years ago, in a local place, there was one I absolutely loved, but when that little store closed I never found it anywhere else, and even forgot its name. I've never found a good replacement that measured up to its depth, without heat.

#99 herp17

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:25 PM

Wow, I'm glad that I posted this question. And I thought it was going to be a small questions with a quick answer.

hzrt8w
Yeah, you know exactly what I'm talking about. When I was a little kid, my parents would take us to places in chinatown, nyc to get curry beef or chicken. It looks rather simple but really really good. It's pretty much chicken or beef swimming in a thick yellow curry sauce with potatos, onions (yeah, those are important, I totally forgot), and sometimes peppers or carrots. Finally my dad just started to make it for dinner once a month or so. He sort of did it in a different way. He used the standard indian yellow curry for his singapore noodles. It mainly consist of chicken, onions, potatoes, carrots with this thick sauce with a strong curry aroma. And I think he alway used flour and water to make it thick instead of using coconut milk. It always turned into a stew type dish. We literally poured the sauce with giant pieces of chicken and vegetable into our rice bowl turning into oa soupy mess. Numerous times I repeated/attempted it but never got it right. I will have tot ry your recipe. And yes, we want pictures!!!!!

Love this forum. Glad I joined. I have many more questions about cantonese cooking to bring back my childhood. :laugh:

#100 hzrt8w

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 10:49 PM

[...]
Love this forum. Glad I joined. I have many more questions about cantonese cooking to bring back my childhood. :laugh:

View Post

Oh yeah? Fire away! :biggrin: I for one am anxiously waiting... :laugh: :laugh:
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

#101 hzrt8w

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 10:56 PM

[...]I know they used Javin brand curry powder...but always wondered how they made the dish. I experimented with the powder at home but never even came close.  The sauce was dark dark brown, not the typical yellowish stuff you find most places.

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I would venture a guess that the dark dark brown color probably came from soy sauce. Being a Chinese cooking non-Chinese originated dishes, we always have to put in our touch... :biggrin:

That's what Leisure Cat told me how people in Hong Kong make spaghetti sauce... ketchup with soy sauce... :laugh:

Edited by hzrt8w, 26 April 2006 - 10:58 PM.

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#102 HarryOhm

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 12:41 AM

^^^
It may have been soy sauce... but the color of this curry powder is itself a much darker brown than other brands that I've seen next to it on the shelves at the local oriental markets... :smile:

Hope the next pictorial will be of the curry beef or chicken!!

#103 Dejah

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 11:39 AM

In restaurant days, we used large containers of curry powder packaged for the wholesaler: SERCA out of Toronto, Ontario. It's like McCormics if anyone is familiar with that brand. I still use it as I have six 482g. containers of it left! :wacko:

It has a nice aroma and our customers liked it, mostly stir-fried chicken and onion.
It's not really hot, so when a customer wants spicy, we will add crushed pepper flakes or a chopped up habanero pepper.

At home, in quick stir-fry dishes, I use mostly Vindoloo paste made by Patak as we like the heat and flavour. This produces a darker brown colour product. When I do a stew type of curry, I use the Serca powder to stir fry the meat (chicken or beef). Big pieces of celery, onion, carrots and potatoes are thrown in and simmered until tender. I love the celery in chunks, but mash up the potato and carrots into the sauce on my plate.

When I make curry dal soup, I also use the powder to give a lighter colour and flavour.

In the Chinese supermarket, they carry so many different kinds of curry. Two cans I had were labelled Chinese Curry Powder: a hot and a mild one. Don't have the cans anymore, but it seemed to me one was darker than the other.

I keep buying different kinds, and they are still sitting in my cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind! :laugh:
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#104 Ben Hong

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 02:45 PM

I use Malaysian Curry that comes in vacuum sealed pouches. A lot of Chinese restaurants make curry in a wok with lots of moisture. I like to make mine stew style in big batches for "day after" tastiness.

#105 herp17

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Posted 28 April 2006 - 01:50 PM

[...]
Love this forum. Glad I joined. I have many more questions about cantonese cooking to bring back my childhood. :laugh:

View Post

Oh yeah? Fire away! :biggrin: I for one am anxiously waiting... :laugh: :laugh:

View Post



Thanks Ah Leung!

Greatly appreciate. :biggrin:

#106 hzrt8w

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 05:34 PM

I like eating the Cantonese style "Salt and Pepper" dishes: Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Squid, Fish Filet, Tofo, etc... Basically they deep-fry the slightly battered shrimp/squid/fish or tofu, then stir-fry quickly with a mixture of fried garlic, chopped green onion, chopped chili pepper and salt under intense heat.

Recently, the S&P dishes I had in many of these neighborhood restaurants just seemed to be overdosed with salt. When I bit into the food, it seems extremely salty. The salt actually made my tongue jump! And the taste of the mixture became bitter. It's less enjoyable than it could have been.

So I started telling the waitstaff when I ordered: Salt and Pepper Fish, but HOLD THE SALT! Does it sound strange? I mean... salt is one of the only few ingredients making this dish. After all, it is "SALT" and pepper. But I request to hold the salt... Any way, I would much rather sprinkle the salt on the dish myself using the small salt jar on the table.

May be my taste preference has changed with age? Now that I got older, I can't take as much salt as I used to?

Has anybody done something similar? Do you feel in general that these dishes seem overdosed with salt? Is a lot of salt needed to bring out the taste for this style?

Edited by hzrt8w, 11 October 2007 - 05:50 PM.

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#107 Prawncrackers

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 02:17 AM

It could be down to the type of salt these restaurants use. If you or I were cooking this dish at home we would probably use the best salt available to us – either a natural sea salt or rock salt. Personally I use English Maldon sea salt or French Fleur de Sel in making these types of dishes. It’s one of the main ingredients so it’s important that the salt is good quality.
However, I imagine in most Cantonese restaurant kitchens there would be one kind of salt, just ordinary ‘cooking salt’ laden with anti-caking and other chemical agents. To my mind, there’s a big big difference between the ordinary processed salt and natural salts. Especially if you say they are over-salting this dish anyway - no wonder your tongue feels like it’s jumping!!

There’s another point you raise about asking restaurant cooks to change the way they cook a dish specifically for you. I would feel uncomfortable about doing that unless I am a regular respected patron of the establishment. If the manager came around to ask how the meal was I would maybe politely tell him or her that I thought the S&P dish could do with less S, but I wouldn’t order a waiter beforehand to tell the cook to use less salt. If I knew that they usually over-salt then I wouldn’t order that dish. After all there are plenty of other dishes.

As for the getting older and not taking as much salt thing, I don’t presume to know your age Ah Leung Gor but I’ve seen it happen to all my older relatives! It’s mostly a health rather than a taste issue though.

#108 Tepee

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Posted 12 October 2007 - 03:22 AM

As for the getting older and not taking as much salt thing, ...[snip]...  It’s mostly a health rather than a taste issue though.

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True true. Am I admitting that I am getting rich in years? We try to use less salt at home. Except for roast pork belly. Hubby says put MORE! He insists the salt brings out the flavour of the meat. We use french sea salt.

I wouldn't 'control' what goes on outside either.

Edited by Tepee, 12 October 2007 - 03:22 AM.

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#109 hzrt8w

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 03:39 PM

As for the getting older and not taking as much salt thing, I don’t presume to know your age Ah Leung Gor but I’ve seen it happen to all my older relatives!  It’s mostly a health rather than a taste issue though.

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I am 48, Prawncrackers. As much as my wife groomed me to be a health nuts like she is... this question about the Salt and Pepper dishes is purely that about taste and not health concerns. :raz:

I did order some more salt and pepper dishes from the same restaurant without telling them to hold the salt recently. This time the dish was just right. I guess I was a victim of some inexperience cooks at times. When the taste of tihs dish becomes bitter, it seems obvious that the cook had chimed in a "heavy hand" for using too much salt...
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#110 jo-mel

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 08:23 PM

I'm happy to hear that it might just have been a kitchen boo-boo, Xiao hzrt. That is one dish I rarely get out as I find it addictive and can't help my self without overdosing. And then I have payback.

When I've made it at home I use kosher salt as it gives a nice balance. But you NEED the salt. After all it IS a Pepper/Salt dish. Some dishes just NEED it. I tried making scallion pancakes without salt. DON'T EVEN TRY! They also NEED salt!


I haven't used salt for years and don't miss it, but maybe that is why I can't stop eating S/P dishes when we are out.

#111 prasantrin

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Posted 03 November 2007 - 08:55 PM

I'm happy to hear that it might just have been a kitchen boo-boo, Xiao hzrt. That is one dish I rarely get out as I find it addictive and can't help my self without overdosing. And then I have payback.

When I've made it at  home I use kosher salt as it gives a nice balance. But you NEED the salt. After all it IS a Pepper/Salt dish.  Some dishes just NEED it. I tried making scallion pancakes without salt. DON'T EVEN TRY! They also NEED salt!


I haven't used salt for years and don't miss it, but maybe that is why I can't stop eating S/P dishes when we are out.

View Post


I love the salt, too! But I, too, suffer after.

However, I don't mind! How do you make your salt and pepper? I want some, and I can't get any good s&p in Japan. Sucks.

#112 huiray

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:37 AM

The "SIZZLE" from the platters into the Steak originated apparently as 2 so called European Style Restaurants in Asia. Ironically they both has the same names even though I don't think they were related to each other during the 1950's.

The first place was the very well known 'Jimmy's Kitchen" originally located in the Central District in Hong Kong still operated by the Landau Family at 2 different locations in Causeway Bay and Kowloon.

The other Restaurant was in "Kula Lumpar" also called "Jimmy's Kitchen".

Both places started using the Steel Oval Platters to serve Steaks hot as if they came sizzling right off the fire. It was effective merchandising, even though the original rationale was to serve Steaks from Kitchens that needed some way to keep up with the volume of orders by delivering a Steak still hot to the customers.

It eventually traveled all over the world, where it's still being featured in various guises effectively. From "Fajitas" to "Sizzling Rice" all the way to some of the most expensive "Steak House" Steaks. [Ruth Chris?]

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"Kula Lumpar" - Do you mean KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia?
Hmm, I don't remember a "Jimmy's Kitchen". The Coliseum Cafe, however, was (and still is) a Hainanese-British Colonial place that served steaks on sizzling platters, and where the "tradition" was to hold the edges of the tablecloth (yes, the crisp white linen tablecloth) up in front of you as the server poured the sauce over the steak on the hot platter on the table to give the sizzle (and splatter). That certainly went back into the 1960's, at least, and I think far before that too.

As for "sizzling platter" meals in "Cantonese" cuisine or otherwise, I certainly remember fondly having "Tit Pan Ngow Yook" (鐵板牛肉)(Beef with a special sauce on a very hot metal platter lodged into a wood base) or the equivalent version with big fat prawns in various Cantonese/"Dai Chow" places in Kuala Lumpur as far back as the early 1960's. Somehow I doubt places like Yook Woo Hin of that time derived their inspiration from this place called "Jimmy's Kitchen". (What was this "Jimmy's Kitchen"?)

Edited by huiray, 19 December 2012 - 01:02 AM.


#113 huiray

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:44 AM

hzrt --

On those sizzling rice dishes -- forget the shrimp! I go for the rice with the sauce on it. I'm not one for tomatos in Chinese cooking, and even the tomato sauce dishes are at the bottom of my list ---- but the dish you described does have a flavorable sauce. Hugh Carpenter has a great Tomato Fireworks Shrimp dish that is wonderful over sizzling rice.


Have you never had "Gai Kow" (chicken nuggets/pieces) or "Har Kow" (Prawn/shrimp) stir-fried with TOMATO KETCHUP and onions and maybe green peppers? :-)

#114 huiray

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:51 AM

I like eating the Cantonese style "Salt and Pepper" dishes: Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Squid, Fish Filet, Tofo, etc... Basically they deep-fry the slightly battered shrimp/squid/fish or tofu, then stir-fry quickly with a mixture of fried garlic, chopped green onion, chopped chili pepper and salt under intense heat.

Recently, the S&P dishes I had in many of these neighborhood restaurants just seemed to be overdosed with salt. When I bit into the food, it seems extremely salty. The salt actually made my tongue jump! And the taste of the mixture became bitter. It's less enjoyable than it could have been.

So I started telling the waitstaff when I ordered: Salt and Pepper Fish, but HOLD THE SALT! Does it sound strange? I mean... salt is one of the only few ingredients making this dish. After all, it is "SALT" and pepper. But I request to hold the salt... Any way, I would much rather sprinkle the salt on the dish myself using the small salt jar on the table.

May be my taste preference has changed with age? Now that I got older, I can't take as much salt as I used to?

Has anybody done something similar? Do you feel in general that these dishes seem overdosed with salt? Is a lot of salt needed to bring out the taste for this style?


Depends on the chef.
Some places do it very well, some do not. One avoids ordering such dishes at places that don't do it well.

#115 huiray

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 12:58 AM

For a silkier texture, add acouple tbsp oil along with the cornstarch, then stir the mixture with your chopsticks before adding other ingredients.

I like it with slivers of lap cheung, waterchestnut, rehydrated Chinese mushrooms and ginger. You can lay these on top of mix into the pork before steaming.

With ham yue, I mix up the pork, then lay chunks of the salted fish on top, lay some ginger on these, then a drizzle of oil on the fish and ginger.

Yoo bad I've had my supper of lap may fan...


You can also add in tofu. The dish "Lo Siu Ping On" (老少平安) is one such dish, a variation on the pork patty, where tofu is mixed in with chopped/minced fish with some pork.
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#116 huiray

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:05 AM

This seems to agree with what I said earlier about if I grew up in the Carribeans eating nothing but bananas, I may think the food from the rest of the world is no good and only bananas taste the best.

They are good (in fact excellent) but nobody would consider them as "high end". Have you ever tried dining in those places? Have you dined in Cantonese restaurants serving "everyday food" in Portland, Seattle, Monterey Park, San Jose, Los Angeles, Cerritos, Irvine, New York City, Boston, D.C., Philadelphia, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal? These cities, all outside of Guangzhou/HK, have fairly decent "low end" Cantonese restaurants.

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First, the bananas point...I am not saying you are wrong about this, but my point is that this will never be settled because it is impossible to find a consensus on this issue, and Chinese are intensely regional.

I have eaten in almost every one of those cities you mentioned and don't disagree that you can find good, everyday Cantonese food. I guess the focus of my post was on Cantonese food in China. In any case, the good Cantonese offerings in these places doesn't translate to me feeling that Cantonese is the best of all Chinese foods, nor does it show it to be the most simple or complex, it just offers me a good cheap meal...



Yet they still have this saying in China:
生在蘇州, 活在杭州, 喫在廣州, 死在柳州
:-D

#117 Mjx

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:36 AM


This seems to agree with what I said earlier about if I grew up in the Carribeans eating nothing but bananas, I may think the food from the rest of the world is no good and only bananas taste the best.

They are good (in fact excellent) but nobody would consider them as "high end". Have you ever tried dining in those places? Have you dined in Cantonese restaurants serving "everyday food" in Portland, Seattle, Monterey Park, San Jose, Los Angeles, Cerritos, Irvine, New York City, Boston, D.C., Philadelphia, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal? These cities, all outside of Guangzhou/HK, have fairly decent "low end" Cantonese restaurants.

View Post


First, the bananas point...I am not saying you are wrong about this, but my point is that this will never be settled because it is impossible to find a consensus on this issue, and Chinese are intensely regional.

I have eaten in almost every one of those cities you mentioned and don't disagree that you can find good, everyday Cantonese food. I guess the focus of my post was on Cantonese food in China. In any case, the good Cantonese offerings in these places doesn't translate to me feeling that Cantonese is the best of all Chinese foods, nor does it show it to be the most simple or complex, it just offers me a good cheap meal...



Yet they still have this saying in China:
生在蘇州, 活在杭州, 喫在廣州, 死在柳州
:-D


Translation please? Online translators tend to make mincemeat of anything that involves metaphor/allusion, etc.

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#118 Will

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 01:52 AM


Yet they still have this saying in China:
生在蘇州, 活在杭州, 喫在廣州, 死在柳州
:-D


Translation please? Online translators tend to make mincemeat of anything that involves metaphor/allusion, etc.

I think this says 'be born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou, and die in Liuzhou'
http://www.liuzhou.c...hou/coffins.htm explains a bit of the background on why, especially the last bit.

Edited by Will, 19 December 2012 - 01:53 AM.


#119 huiray

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:33 AM

Yes, your translation is correct. :-)

[and the Google translator does just fine with this one]

The relevance or accuracy of the sentiments is, of course, subject to personal interpretation. :-D

BTW this article might be of interest: http://asiasociety.o...-all-california
The author does say (at least elsewhere) that if North America were the area in question all the top places would be in Vancouver and Toronto (and most Cantonese at that). Take that for what you will. On a certain other food forum, this author was viciously attacked by (non-Chinese) posters for what they decried as his "bias" especially against NYC, where these posters thought had the most excellent food in their view especially NON-Cantonese food which these same posters much preferred anyway. Heh.

Edited by huiray, 19 December 2012 - 02:43 AM.


#120 Keith_W

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 04:52 AM

Somehow I doubt places like Yook Woo Hin of that time derived their inspiration from this place called "Jimmy's Kitchen". (What was this "Jimmy's Kitchen"?)


I regret to inform you that the famous Yook Woo Hin restaurant has closed down. I grew up in KL. When I migrated from Malaysia, my farewell party was in that restaurant.
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