Our annual poon choy dinner with whole baby abalone @ Hakka Siu Poon Choy

Poon Choy

I always look forward to our poon choy dinner as the proper start of the pre Chinese New Year celebrations. We got our poon choy from the famous Restaurant Lee Hong Kee (used to be known as Restaurant LYJ) last year and I decided to try a new place this year. I had passed by this small and unassuming shop and called them to ask about their Hakka Pun Choi.

Poon Choy is actually a Hakka tradition that has been adopted and popularized over the years here. It basically involves a pot filled with all manner of premium ingredients by layer – stacked from the bottom to the top so each layer seeps down to the next, providing a new ingredient as you eat “down” and having the gravy/juice absorbing stuff underneath so it gets all the wonderful flavors from the smorgasbord of meat and seafood.

Hakka Siu Poon Choy

Hakka Siu Poon Choy is helmed by Cheong Sifu (Master, can also mean Chef) and I called the proprietor to ask about their prices. Poon Choy is now streamlined into two (2) sizes – 5 pax and 10 pax. I wanted the Premium Abalone Poon Choy, their best offering, for 5 pax and it cost RM 280 for the basic set. You can also add whole baby abalone for RM 20 each and I had six pieces coz there are six of us eating and I wanted everyone to have one.

I wanted to try this small restaurant instead of the huge commercial multi-restaurant F&B enterprises e.g. Dragon-i, Unique Seafood etc even though they’re cheaper (probably coz they buy in bulk) coz a smaller operation would have a more homely feel. I had it to go since me and my better half had her parents over so it’s easier to eat at home, especially with the two kids.

Poon Choy 2015

I also got two craft beers from Oregon for my dear’s dad and myself from Betty’s Midwest Kitchen. I’ve always liked Rogue’s brews and I thought their Mocha Porter and Dry Hopped St Rogue Red Ale would be perfect for the meal. The first is a stout like beverage, dark and high in alcohol content, with a nice coffee aftertaste. The St Rogue Red Ale is a sweet affair that’s light and refreshing and tasty from the dry hop process.

Rogue Red Ale Mocha Porter

The poon choy from Hakka Siu Poon Choy did not disappoint – it was even better than last year! I called over the phone and told them to prepare a good one for me with premium ingredients and they did just that. The optional 6 pieces of whole abalone for RM 20 each was well worth it too! The good stuff is in the middle – there’s whole baby abalone, sliced abalone (the lighter colored stuff), sliced conch (the darker colored pieces), Pacific clams, sea asparagus (razor clams), top shell, dried mussels, dried scallops, fresh scallops, dried oyster and black moss (fatt choy).

Hakka Poon Choy

I’m quite impressed by that selection, although most of it probably came out of cans like New Moon, they’re not cheap either. The whole baby abalone and one type of scallop is fresh though. The dried scallops are large and flavorful too.

There’s also ½ chicken and ½ duck flanking the poon choy pot with huge prawns, spare ribs and fu chuk (whole beancurd sheets/tofu skin) interspaced between. I particularly liked how they had ½ fish maw with ½ dried and rehydrated pig skin at the second layer. There’s also a wonderful array of sliced pork belly and sea cucumber hidden below. The Shiitake mushrooms, straw mushrooms, broccoli and turnips at the bottom soaks up the wonderful juices from everything slowly soaking down very well.

I’m sure I have missed some ingredients coz there’s supposed to be 28 in total!

Whole Baby Abalone

My favorite has gotta be the prawns cooked in sweet and sour sauce though – the juices from that flavored everything beneath really well and I’m glad I paid extra RM 20 / whole baby abalone for a more festive treat! Everyone loved it and even the kids had extra rice! My dear even had to cook an extra pot of rice for a second helping for everyone.

It was a great poon choy dinner that has become an annual treat, much like our Christmas turkey dinners! I can really feel the Chinese New Year “mood” now. :)

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18 thoughts on “Our annual poon choy dinner with whole baby abalone @ Hakka Siu Poon Choy

    • I first tried it a very long time ago! :)

      I was working in Kuching then and was invited over to a family dinner coz I came back early. Some people have poon choy during Chap Goh Meh.

    • Yeah, this one is very good! :)

      I was quite surprised since I was basically taking a chance on this restaurant – it’s not big, or multi-chain like Unique Seafood (another one I was considering) but the chef seems pretty good and the proprietor was friendly and said they can do a custom premium one for me so I went with them.

    • Yeah, we all liked this one better than last year’s! :)

      Last year I got it from a big and famous (for poon choy) restaurant. This year I got it from a smaller one, made to order.

      No worries, the roast meat and chicken isn’t under the really moist stuff (which is the middle), it’s under the sweet and sour prawn and broccoli so it doesn’t get soaked much but its juices go downwards. I really like the end soup that permeates the turnips – has a bit of everything tastewise.

    • Nice! Yeah, I imagine it would! :)

      I actually had my first taste of poon choy around 2005 or so, was visiting my good friend’s uncle and got invited to their Chap Goh Meh poon choy dinner. They’re Hakka as well but not very well off (but very happy though – they’re farmers) so they couldn’t have a 2k poon choy, but their home made one was very intriguing and it stayed with me until 2008 when I came here and saw a banner advertising poon choy near where I lived then.

      Unfortunately, back then restaurants don’t have the streamlined 5 pax/10 pax sizes they do now, so I couldn’t eat it with just 2 people.

      I think adding in shark’s fin, abalone, and good sea cucumber would cost thousands alone! We saw sea cucumber going for RM 8,000 per 100 gram or something ridiculous like that once. I was shocked.

    • Yup, it can be found in Kuching! :)

      Mel (Wanderlust Glutton) above is from Kuching and living there. I first had my taste of poon choy in Kuching too, around 2005 or so, although it’s nowhere near the 2k luxurious poon choy she has every year.

      I was at a quite financially poor but very happy family (my friend’s uncle) and they’re Hakka and they cooked up poon choy – can remember it having duck, chicken, and abalone from cans (the New Moon type) but the dish totally intrigued me.

      Poon choy is a Hakka custom, it’s just that Kuching restaurants don’t advertise their poon choy or maybe they don’t sell it, it’s usually a home cooked affair. Over here it’s the exact opposite – it started getting really popular around 2008 and the market shifted to accommodate the demand.

      There’s more and more restaurants offering it every year, poon choy has really taken off as a CNY dish here, but it’s definitely a Hakka tradition.

    • Yeah, it was really reasonable! :)

      It’s not just RM 280 though, that’s the basic cost for the Premium Abalone Poon Choy (which comes with sliced abalone). You can add whole baby abalone for RM 20 / piece and they charge you for the metal bowl (RM 10) but if you want their cheapest version (without abalone, prawns etc) it’s only RM 168 I believe.

      I don’t know what the RM 168 one looks like though – it must be pretty dismal since it doesn’t have any of the good stuff, from what I heard over the phone, maybe just 1/2 chicken, 1/2 duck and some canned abalone and broccoli and turnips. It’s definitely worth it to get the RM 280 one and add whole baby abalone for extra charge if you like.

      Their address is Jalan PJU 1/45, Aman Suria, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, make a left turn after Kayu Nasi Kandar in Dataran Prima, another left after that and you’ll see the shop on the right.

      Best part is you can customize your poon choy so ask about options – for me I really wanted baby abalone so I asked for whole baby abalone, which they charged at the market price (Unique Seafood also charges RM 20 / piece of whole baby abalone).

      This is the 5 pax price though, the 10 pax one would probably be slightly less than double. The best one I’ve seen is the one at Celestial Court, Sheraton Imperial – they have a premium 5 pax poon choy for RM 888 ++. I saw it while having yee sang there:

      http://sixthseal.com/2015/01/yee-sang-dinner-celestial-court-sheraton-imperial/

  1. My family had poon choy for CNY reunion dinner at a restaurant a few years back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really our thing since my family is not big on the premium ingredients and I’m not a big fan of soupy dishes.

    • Yeah, it can be a little watery towards the end! :)

      I like the turnips at the bottom though, it’s soaked with flavor by that point. I’m a huge fan of poon choy since I tried it. It’s no fun to eat alone though, you have to eat it with family and loved ones.

  2. I’ve only eaten poon choy once.. It was in KL, many many years ago before I got married, haha.. The first few layers were nice, but the bottom layer not nice.. Towards the end of the meal, I remembered they threw in “fun si” (vermicelli) to soak into the gravy, and ate it just like that.. No rice, nothing.. Not filling, haha..

    • I think that’s coz you got full! :)

      Haha! That’s me anyway, the first layers are always awesome but as I get fuller, the bottom layers are not so nice.

      Oh, that’s a great idea! I shall do it next year, I didn’t think of using rice vermicelli to soak up the gravy at the end, that must be superb! It’s a nice change instead of eating rice.

  3. i think i have tried poon choy once.. exactly like the one in your post.. but minus the abalone. hahahaha !! Yours look like it is worth every cent. Now, you make me wanna hunt for poon choy for my family dinner. >.<

    • Yeah, this was really good! :)

      We all enjoyed it very much. I can’t wait to try another place’s poon choy. I think if no one is sick of it, we can have another round during Chap Goh Meh. Haha! I’m not sure if all places will still offer it then though, or just the dedicated poon choy restaurants.

      You can also do your own!

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