The complete claypot experience

by saynotospandex

One of the highlights of our trip to Hong Kong was to visit the bustling night streets in Yau Ma Tei where we had our first claypot rice a few years ago.

Yau Ma Tei is not exactly a tourist spot – in fact it’s one of those places where you can see locals going about their own businesses with hardly a foreign face. I like such places; I always find that the travel experience is always a notch more genuine when you find spots like these.

Served piping hot in a claypot with its lid on – we waited patiently for the lid to become cooler before attempting to lift it. A tiny square of paper is stuck to the lid & we try to grab the lid with that piece of paper – I’d like to think of it as a considerate gesture from the staff who know we’d burn our fingers anyway. It’s quite a sight seeing customers putting their toasted fingers to their ears after they touch the claypot cover each time.

Once the lid is taken off, a mad rush to guzzle in as much dark soya sauce begins – and for those who’ve ordered eggs, they crack it over the rice, stir in the sauce & eggs (depending on how you like the eggs) & put the lid back on.

And then we wait again. We wait for the rice to steep in the rich aromatic flavours of the soya sauce/egg/chicken/beef (and for our burnt finger tips to recover). The temptation to start eating becomes overwhelming but we press it down & tell ourselves “just a while more” before finally reaching for the lids & seeing the glorious pot of moist, soya sauce-laden rice with bits of tender chicken & juicy beef in front of us.

Each grain of rice is unbroken and tastes so good when you eat it with the pieces of chicken & beef slices. My favourite combo would be chicken + beef + egg. I find that the egg makes the whole pot of rice take on a moist & silky texture.

We pair this with a bowl of vegetables soup. Served in a pot that looks at least a decade old, the vegetables are cooked till soft & the stock has a sweet taste with the essence of all the boiled veggies.

Back to the claypot rice – it’s best paired with the famous oyster pancake. Oyster, fried with a batter that consists of duck eggs, is served on a sheet of paper that soaks up all the excess oil. It may look like bad news for your cardiologist but it tastes really good. One mouth of claypot rice, one mouth of crispy fragrant oyster – I’m in heaven!

This shop doesn’t have a proper shop sign but “Four Seasons Claypot Rice” printed on big pieces of yellow paper. The menu is done in similar fashion as well, with all varieties of claypot rice printed & pasted on the walls above.

I don’t have the exact address but here’s what I can remember.

Four Seasons Claypot Rice

Directions: Exit C at Yau Ma Tei station. You’ll see Man Ming Lane if you turn backwards upon exiting the station. Walk down a few streets & you’ll see this shop with a long queue outside. There’s another shop beside but this one is packed full with people – you can’t go wrong with that!