The first and last time I tried giant conch slices in a restaurant was in Chaoshan in Guangdong province. I thought it would be cheaper in mainland China but the dish turned out as costly as in Hong Kong.
The experience still lingers on my mind and from time to time I have to refrain from eating shellfish as it is just way too much.
Last time I brought home a fist-size fresh sea snail from Hokkaido, Japan.
It cost HK$300 and it yielded eight thin slices. I grilled the best four by charcoal and cooked the rest by boiling.
No doubt the grilled ones tasted lovelier.
I had a good shot at doing a giant conch again. Jacky Chung, head chef of J&T Restaurant in Wan Chai, said they were going to offer a new dish: cross-bridge giant conch.
The price: HK$1,500.
My heart sank. That’s not cheap.
“It’s enough for three or four people, and each could have three or four slices,” Chung said.
To “cross-bridge” a giant conch means to pour ladles of boiling shrimp broth onto the freshly cut giant conch slices.
It was mouth-watering to see how Chung scalded the conch slices perfectly from raw.
The shellfish was truly umami. It was a wild giant conch caught from Chaoshan waters. The broth was outstanding as well. It was prepared from a catty of shrimps that was first fried in a wok then cracked and ground for boiling.
It was just heavenly to take in a conch slice, followed by a sip of shrimp broth.
In the end, I found it a real bargain. Chung told me that the offering was not meant to generate money but to attract more customers.
As a matter of fact, this restaurant is never short of customers. I am impressed that Chung would not cease to amaze his diners with new creations.
For the record, I have been a loyal fan of their juicy, tender grilled squabs. I think I may have developed a new addiction.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 3
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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