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Food & Drinks

The real-life God of Cookery revives char siu rice Stephen Chow made famous in film

Chef Dai Lung, who created roasted pork and rice dish Stephen Chow’s character served in 1996 film God of Cookery, has tweaked it for menu at new restaurant in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 September, 2018, 11:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2018, 8:03pm

Hong Kong chef Dai Lung is relishing the media attention and getting into his set poses – giving a thumbs up, arms folded in front of his chest, or holding a massive traditional chopper.

The 70-year-old is enjoying a renaissance after more than 50 years as a chef, thanks in part to comedian Stephen Chow Sing-chi, who gave Dai a large gold medal complete with a chain that says “god of cookery” which he proudly wears.

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“In 1992 I was head chef of a Chinese fine-dining restaurant in a five-star hotel and Stephen Chow would come and I would make special dishes for him. After a while, we got to know each other and two years later he wanted to make a movie about chefs and asked me to create a dish for his film God of Cookery”.

Chow’s character takes part in a cooking competition and his entry is called “sorrowful rice”; it features slices of juicy char siu on a bed of rice with a fried egg on top.

The judge, played by Nancy Sit Ka-yin, tastes the dish and can’t help but shed tears of joy. She wonders why she is crying, and Chow’s character explains it’s because there are onions in the rice.

That dish, which Dai has since improved upon, is now available at Chop Chop in Fortress Hill, which also sells other roast meats, including crispy pork belly and roast goose, and steamed soy sauce chicken.

His signature dish, roasted pork belly char siu rice, that was made famous in the film has been tweaked according to Dai’s specifications. Unlike Cantonese char siu that prizes the pork shoulder, Dai prefers the pork belly for more flavour, and doesn’t use artificial colouring.

Stephen Chow … wanted to make a movie about chefs and asked me to create a dish for his film
Dai Lung

It is marinated in a sweet sauce that includes Chinese rose wine, and roasted for several hours before being marinated and roasted again at a slightly lower temperature for more caramelisation of the meat. The char siu is very tender, though a bit on the sweet side.

Chop Chop has two ovens that roast four to five batches of meat daily so that the char siu is available fresh from the oven for customers all day – Dai insists the pork belly must be consumed within two hours of roasting otherwise the meat doesn’t taste good any more.

Meanwhile, the eggs the restaurant uses for the dish are locally produced “smart eggs” that are laid by young hens and smaller than typical eggs, which means they are higher in protein and have higher nutritional value. He also thinks refrigerating them impacts the flavour.

He uses rice sourced from Wuchang, in Heilongjiang province, northeast China, that is not widely available in Hong Kong, and while onions aren’t mixed into the rice, some American wild rice is added.

Chop Chop was opened by Randy See, brand founder and director of Piccolo Group, which also runs Piccolo Pizza, Bistro du Vin and Beet in Hong Kong. He hopes to open another three Chop Chop shops in Hong Kong before branching out regionally.

See says Dai is very particular about the ingredients he uses, which ensures the dishes are of a high standard. The char siu pork belly, fried egg and rice is HK$80 and comes with a bowl of soup, while roast goose with rice or noodles is HK$58, or HK$98 for a drumstick.

Chop Chop, Shop 3, 18 Wang On Road, Fortress Hill, tel: 3618 7718