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佛跳墙: Buddha jumping over the wall


hzrt8w
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Has anybody had this "most expensive" Chinese dish:

佛跳墙: fo2 tiao4 qiang2 [Mandarin], fut teow cheung [Cantonese]

The literal meaning is "Buddha jumping over the wall" (to have this dish because even the Buddha cannot resist its temptation).

I learned about it in Hong Kong long time ago but had not ever tasted it. (You think my father would order that kind of dishes?) :smile:

I saw this dish in the menus of some restaurants in San Francisco. They offer this in a local restaurant in Sacramento too. Price: US$25.00 per person, order of 4 minimum.

From what I understand, they use whole abalone, Japanese "fa guoo" (a kind of dried mushrooms), sea cucumber, dried conpoy, chicken, Chinese ham, pork and ginseng to make the dish.

Also, fut teow cheung is one of the dishes in the famous moon hang [Cantonese] banquet.

I wonder if any reader here had had the dish and what you think of it. Worth the price or it is all hype?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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If they use fresh abalone, good quality Korean ginseng, sea cucumber, fa guoo, etc, I wouldn't consider the price excessive, unless 4 people are sharing one rice bowl full.

A salad can cost upwards of $10.00 in restaurants...so consider the ingredients in this dish...and the opportunity to watch a buddha jumping over the wall. :laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I think it's hard to say if it's worth the price or not. It depends on the quality ingredients and how much you actually enjoy the ingredients. $100 for the dish (4 servings) isn't expensive if and the ingredients are top notch. The problem is, you often don't know until you've had the dish. $100 is steep if the dish isn't great.

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I saw this dish in the menus of some restaurants in San Francisco.  They offer this in a local restaurant in Sacramento too.  Price:  US$25.00 per person, order of 4 minimum.

From what I understand, they use whole abalone, Japanese "fa guoo" (a kind of dried mushrooms), sea cucumber, dried conpoy, chicken, Chinese ham, pork and ginseng to make the dish.

Oh, I should clarify it. I understand that the "real" Buddha jumping over the wall uses such precious ingredients.

The one offered in the local restaurant: In only saw a whole abalone in the picture of the small soup bowl. I could not tell what other ingredients they use (and they didn't say). I agree that US$25 pp is not a whole lot if they use all the precious ingredients but I don't think they do. In the San Francisco high-end restaurants, the prices are much higher.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I understand that "value is in the eyes of the beholder".

I mentioned that recently I had the "8th month 15th day" dinner at Zen Peninsula (Millbrae). The host ordered a version of dinner package that included "shark fin soup". From what I gathered, this "shark fin soup" dish was sold at about US$100. That goes to about US$10 (10 person serving) for each small Chinese bowl of the shark fin soup. The way Zen Peninsula made it was not as good as what I remember of the ones in Hong Kong Chinese banquets. I think that shark fin soup is overrated. At least at Zen Peninsula.

There are also other expensive Chinese dishes, such as "swallow's nest", bear claws or other even more "precious" items. I sometimes wondered if this is all psychological... in the minds of the patrons... that expensive must be good.

BTW: The abalone slices at Zen Peninsula did not impress me as much as I can remember those that I had in Hong Kong.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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If I'm not mistaken this dish was previously mentioned on eGullet several years ago under the topic "Fukienese Cuisine" when "Eddie" was the moderator.

Since at that time I was only lurking and wasn't semi-retired I couldn't post but am sure it was mentioned.

My experience with "Buddha Jumping over the Wall" was learned when I lived in Hong Kong and occurred when we were preparing a Menu for a friends 40th Birthday Party at the Kingfisher Restaurant in Kowloon. I was surprised to learn that 2 Special Chefs would be assigned to prepare the menu for our Tabletop party of 12 guests and it was anticipated to take several days to prepare all the dishes being ordered in Cantonese by my Chinese friend.

The special soup being served was priced according to the quality of ingredients being ordered for it's preparation. This required purchasing Sharks Fin and Abalone from a special shop who brought samples for us to choose from for the dinner.

The "Abalone" consider prober for the dish was priced according to size, color and quality from about US $15.00 to over US $ 140.00 per piece [one piece centers the soup] we choose a piece that cost about $60.00.

Next came the "Sharks Fin" again the type of Cartilage, Size and Type of Fin depended on the price that ranged from about $18.00 to over $300.00. Since it was for a 40th Birthday a piece was recommended that weighed dry about 1 pound, but could be cut into continuous long thin strands for good fortune for the birthday celebration this piece cost $135.00.

We also selected the "Sea Cucumber", Mushrooms, Yunnan Ham and Ordered Black Footed Chicken the Restaurant assured us that we would get a choice Duck, Fresh Pig Foot, Quails Eggs and everything else of excellent quality for the occasion.

The soup would be covered by a "Superior Double Cooked Stock" made from fresh Chicken Wings, Chicken Feet together with Pork Back and Neck Bones.

The Sharks Fin was prepared separately and added to the Soup before serving. The Soup with the other ingredients was Sealed into a Clay Pot and simmered for several days prior to serving.

Before the Soup was served it was assembled into a Porcelain Bowl with items placed in layer for appearance with the Whole Abalone and Sharks Fin being the centerpiece. The Chef removed the Abalone then sliced it thin placing it into 12 individual bowls together with the Sharks Fin for the initial serving of the Soup, next serving included all the other ingredients together.

It was a interesting presentation with the Soup being the center of attraction.

In my estimation it was delicious but more fatty then I prefer. At future parties I always requested having either a special Shark Fin Soup or Shark Fin with Fat Crab Soup that seemed more enjoyable. I also preferred serving Abalone Braised with Duck Feet as a separate dish that everyone enjoyed.

Since these prices were what was charged about 30 years ago allowing for inflation it would be more expensive in 2005 but it always depends on the ingredients selected.

I hope this clarifies about the variations in pricing of different types of Chinese Dishes. Even live fish [Horsehead Grouper] that are sold after weighing can be unbelievably expensive in Hong Kong. The most expensive Restaurants in Hong Kong were those that only sold Live Seafood, where it was very rare to see any Europeans or Americans as they were considered to expensive for foreigners.

The most expensive item served in Hong Kong was a soup prepared from certain "Ginsing Roots" growing into unusual shapes in mountain crevasse that could cost more then a expensive automobile.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Unless you can be sure of the quality of the ingredients - it can turn into a bit of a dog's dinner.

Really - the quality of the stock and soup have to be top notch. I've only had it once in HK - and it was delicous - but the restaurant took their cooking very seriously. $25/head really is'nt all that steep.

However - I generally avoid shark's fin these days - I find it such a cruel thing to eat. And all it adds is texture - not flavor. Swallow's nest - however I do like.

I lived in the Bay Area for a number of years, and I could not really find a great chinese restaurant (compared to living in HK and Vancouver). For $25/head - it would be a fun thing to try out. After such a big deal dish - one should order simply for the rest of the dinner anyways. The total cost of the meal then would not be too excessive.

Please post your impressions.

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My mother makes this at least once a year, during chinese new year season. Hers is equivalent, if not, more delicious ('made with love') compared to the ones I've tasted at restaurants. Like everyone said, it really depends on the quality of the liu. Price can range from US$10 (imposters) to a couple of hundred per head. Whether some restaurants charge fairly according to the value is debatable. Good, rich, stuff to drink and to slowly savor all the various tastes and textures. Just that it's so 'bo' (rich in the nutritive sense) that I wonder if my face will break out in a million zits the next day.

Edited by Tepee (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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However - I generally avoid shark's fin these days - I find it such a cruel thing to eat.  And all it adds is texture - not flavor.  Swallow's nest - however I do like.

I wonder if harvesting bird's nest is any less cruel. Recently, we've seen a lot of people jumping on this bandwagon. Some people convert their property (prime property, mind you), usually shophouses fronting seasides where swiftlets thrive, to make an environment to encourage the building of nests. I visited one such converted building last year - my BIL's uncle's. The building has to be high, and holes are built inside a room. Small window holes are left opened for the swifts to fly in and a sound device is constructed on top of the building to attract the birds. The thing is, when the nests are harvested, won't the chicks be without a nest?

Edited by Tepee (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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The thing is when the nests are harvested, won't the chicks be without a nest?

That's not a problem because the harvesters snack on the chicks as they work.

KIDDING!!

Ba...BA....LUT! :wink: (for those of you who remember Desi of I Love Lucy)

You bad, Laksa! :laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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The thing is when the nests are harvested, won't the chicks be without a nest?

That's not a problem because the harvesters snack on the chicks as they work.

KIDDING!!

SOEY CHAI!!! Being so naive, I believed you!

NOT!

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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I wonder if harvesting bird's nest is any less cruel. Recently, we've seen a lot of people jumping on this bandwagon. Some people convert their property (prime property, mind you), usually shophouses fronting seasides where swiftlets thrive, to make an environment to encourage the building of nests. I visited one such converted building last year - my BIL's uncle's. The building has to be high, and holes are built inside a room. Small window holes are left opened for the swifts to fly in and a sound device is constructed on top of the building to attract the birds. The thing is, when the nests are harvested, won't the chicks be without a nest?

Okay, I might be wrong about this but I believe (and I might be wrong) that the birds build a nest and it's harvested so then they build another. That one is also harvested - and it's considered to be inferior in quality to the first nest (people who know about these things can tell). Then the birds build a third nest and that's what they eventually lay the eggs in.

At least that's how it used to be (if I was right in the first place). The harvesters wouldn't take nests with eggs in them because they wanted the "cycle of life" (or whatever) to continue - if they destroyed the eggs, no new birds would hatch so they wouldn't have as many nests to harvest in the future, after the baby birds grew up. But now (I believe - might be wrong yet again) unscrupulous people are taking over the industry and just dumping out the eggs and taking the nests. It's not always like that, just some stupid rogue harvesters who are only in it to make money as fast as they can without thought for the future.

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There are also other expensive Chinese dishes, such as "swallow's nest", bear claws or other even more "precious" items.  I sometimes wondered if this is all psychological... in the minds of the patrons... that expensive must be good.

I thought bear claws were outlawed, which is why they are so expensive.

I happen to enjoy the taste of a well prepared shark's fin soup as well as the next person, but I don't know if it's worth the price. Same with swallow's nest and other exotica. However, it is considered a sign of great respect to offer such an expensive delicacy to your guests at a meal. My mom use to keep some dried swallow's nest in the cupboard for when we had esteemed guests over for dinner.

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Thanks Irwin for the detail descriptions!

For those who have had it: I am not very clear on one thing. The pictures I have seen shown that this item is served in a Chinese vertical-wall kind of soup bowl (the one you use to do double-boiling). Is this supposed to be a soup? Are all the ingredients immersed in soup? Wouldn't they taste chewy?

We had dim sum at May Flower Restaurant in Milpitas this Saturday. They offer "Buddha Jumping Over The Wall" at US$65.00 pp (didn't say minimum).

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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For those who have had it:  I am not very clear on one thing.  The pictures I have seen shown that this item is served in a Chinese vertical-wall kind of soup bowl (the one you use to do double-boiling).  Is this supposed to be a soup?  Are all the ingredients immersed in soup?  Wouldn't they taste chewy?

The ones I've tried are clear (brown tint) soups, with the other rich stuff in it. Everything can be eaten. If done well, the items shouldn't be chewy, they should be al dente.

Edited by Tepee (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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The Soup when served is very clear with a oily surface caused naturally from the ingredients.

Since the two separate parts of the Soup are sealed and simmered in clay pots for several days at a low temperature, then put together and layered into a Porcelain serving bowl everything is very tender with the exception of the Abalone that unless sliced fresh and pounded remains firm but delicious.

What I remember most from that party was the Live Prawns that were presented to our table before being steamed and served, each whole Fat [roe] Prawn weighed 22/26 ounces. [in excess of 1 catty]

This soup cost in excess of $220.00 dollars years ago for a table of 12 guests, charging $65.00 per person [generally 10/12 persons] in 2005 doesn't sound excessive. I'm sure that if the same quality Abalone [Dried] and Sharks Fin was used it would at least double the prices. The better quality [more expensive] Abalone and Sharks Fin are reserved for the Hong Kong and Shanghai markets if anything of that quality is needed in Canada or the United States it needs to be special ordered and flown in for customers.

There are few modern Chinese Restaurants that have the space or burners available to accommodate these types of dishes. In Hong Kong and China most kitchens have a back or outside area that's often used for simmering or preparing special items ordered for parties separate from the main kitchen.

In Chinese Parties it not unusual that the Soup is the most expensive item on the menu.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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What I remember most from that party was the Live Prawns that were presented to our table before being steamed and served, each whole Fat [roe] Prawn weighed 22/26 ounces. [in excess of 1 catty]

A prawn that weighed over 1 catty? That's giant! It's bigger than a lobster! I have never seen a prawn that big.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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