Just when you think you’re headed for a diet post-New Year celebrations, think again. Chinese New Year is around the corner and one of the most significant parts of this holiday is reuniting with friends and family over food. One particular food staple is poon choi (盆菜: poon choi in Cantonese and poon cai in Mandarin), a hearty casserole one-pot wonder. If you enjoy a variety of premium foods packed into a single pot, this one’s for you. 

What is poon choi? 

Poon choi is a famous Chinese casserole dish that literally translates to “basin food.” The generous assortment of delicacies that go into making one ultimately depends on personal preference, but traditionally, meats, seafood, vegetables, and stew-like ingredients are packed to the brim. Vegetables, comprising a small portion of the entire dish, are found at the bottom followed by meats and other hearty, “valuable” items layered on top, with each item prepared separately.

Poon choi is normally served in a large, conventionally, wooden bowl that welcomes a communal way of dining. It’s a popular meal to have during the Spring Festival, on the eve of Chinese New Year, and at weddings, traditional rituals and festivals, and times of ancestral worship.

How was poon choi invented? 

The origins of poon choi date back to the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD) during the war between Mongolia and China. Emperor Zhao Bing, the last emperor of the Song Dynasty, and his army fled to a village in the New Territories around Guangdong province and Hong Kong. It was on this stumble that Hakka villagers decided to treat them to a massive feast of the best locally sourced foods available, like turnips and fish. Each dish was then laid out, one on top of the other, in a large washbasin to feed the masses. This Hakka poon choi has now become a full-on Chinese tradition.

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There are auspicious meanings to poon choi, meanings that advocate for unity and prosperity. Hence, the more you eat out of the pot, the luckier you will be.

Where to find poon choi in Hong Kong

Here’s a list of places that serve up the most mouthwatering poon chois in town to warm your soul this festive season.

Green Common

meat free poon choi pot from green common hk
The Buddhist-friendly 20-ingredient vegan poon choi (© Green Common)

For all the vegans out there, you don’t have to worry about missing out on the delicious festivities. Plant-based marketplace and eatery Green Common offers an all-vegan poon choi filled with an assortment of vegetables, inclusive of ones resembling “meats.” Items include mochi kinchaku with Omnipork, golden tremell, omnipork meatballs, shiitake mushrooms, purple sweet potato, red dates, and black fungus to name several. Green Common’s poon choi (HK$618) is served in a metal basin and feeds up to six people.

Where: Order on Klook. Orders must be made three days in advance.

Loong Yat Heen

chinese new year poon choi with abalone and crispy pork belly from kowloon hotel
The Abalone Supreme Poon Choi with 8-head abalone (© The Kowloon Hotel)

Eat like a king and queen when you opt for Loong Yat Heen’s Abalone Supreme Poon Choi. The restaurant is known to serve up classic Chinese delicacies, which you will find in this hefty poon choi claypot. Chef Yeung puts together a divinely prepared rich broth with abalone, Chinese ham, chicken, and pork lean braised for eight hours. The succulent juices from the meaty combination soaks into the dish’s other pairings, like dried oysters, roasted pork belly, fish maw, and Japanese turnip. The end result is a feast that fell from the heavens.

Where: Available for groups of two (HK$664), four (HK$1,294), six (HK$1,744), and twelve (HK$3,274). Order on Klook.

Ming Court

lunar new year poon choi from ming court restaurant
Ming Court’s claypot braised poon choi with fish maw and mushrooms (© Cordis, Hong Kong)

Bring a refined dining experience into the comfort of your own home with Ming Court’s hearty Chinese New Year poon choi options. Indulge in a sophisticated meal with flavourful origins that take you back to your Asian roots. Ming Court’s Chinese New Year Festive Casserole poon choi features whole abalone, fish maw, prawns, barbequed pork loin, and other delectable items all braised in one single and reusable claypot.

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Where: The poon choi is available for groups of four (HK$1,488) that comes with complimentary red bean cream sweetened soup and eight (HK$2,738) that comes with complimentary wok-fried glutinous rice. Order on Klook.

Lei Garden

poon choi in claypot from lei garden
Traditional poon choi (© Lei Garden)

Savour Lei Garden’s unique recipes using hand-selected, premium ingredients that can be found in its poon choi. The internationally-renowned restaurant serves up a sizable feast for seafood lovers, adding abalone, fish maw, sea cucumber, conpoy, and dried oyster into the joyous mix. 

Where: Available for groups of four (HK$1,318), six (HK$1,888) and 10 (HK$3,218). Call ahead to the restaurant you want to pick-up from two days in advance to reserve, and then place an order on Klook.

Mott 32

sauce being drizzled on traditional chinese poon choi from mott 32
The Traditional Poon Choi serves up to 12 (© Mott 32)

Start the Lunar New Year on a bang with Mott 32’s poon choi. Choose between two of the contemporary Chinese restaurant’s deluxe poon choi to bring home an elevated dining experience. The Traditional Poon Choi is filled with a generous serving of free-range chicken, fish balls, braised pork, and dried seafood to add rich flavours. The Premium Poon Choi heightens the celebratory spirit, being filled with Australian abalone, Hokkaido sea scallops, fish maw, and Japanese sea cucumber among other luxury poon choi ingredients.

Where: Order on Klook. When two of either poon choi are ordered, you can get free glutinous rice. The Traditional (HK$2,580) poon choi serves 12 people and the Premium (HK$2,680) poon choi serves six people.

Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung

chef serving traditional lunar new year dishes like suckling pig at sheraton hong kong tung chung hotel
CNY dishes at Sheraton hotel (© Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung)

Delight in Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung’s poon choi from well-renowned modern, authentic Chinese restaurant Yue. Chef Jacky cooks up time-honoured Chinese classics placed altogether in one masterpiece, including African abalone, fish maw, conpoy, roasted duck, roasted crispy pork belly, and giant tiger prawns, among much more.

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Where: The poon choi is available for groups of four (HK$1,688). Orders can be placed on the e-shop, and must be made one week in advance.

Regal Hotels

vegetarian chinese new year poon choi from regal hotels hong kong
The Deluxe Vegetarian Poon Choi for six with ‘Chick’n’ and ‘Fishless Filets’ (© Regal Hotels)

Regal Hotels offer extravagant poon choi fit for, as its name suggests, royalty. Choose between the Abalone Supreme Poon Choi (HK$1,688) which serves six, 3-Head Whole Abalone and Lobster Poon Choi (HK$1,488), which serves six and Abalone Deluxe Poon Choi (HK$988) which serves four. Each pot of gold comes with a host of succulent seafoods and meats that elevate the flavours of the entire dish. Regal Hotels also offers the Deluxe Vegetarian Poon Choi (HK$988) for six brimming with low-fat, high-protein, and high-collagen delights.

Where: From 23 December 2022 to 15 January 2023, customers can get a free box of Coconut New Year Pudding when they purchase a poon choi on Regal Hotels’ e-shop.

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Header image credits: Sheraton Hong Kong Tung Chung

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A hermit at heart, Agnes likes to connect with the world across various platforms that share a wealth of content on beauty, culture, lifestyle, and travel. She loves using the art of language to portray her voice and poor sense of humour whenever possible. When she’s not nerding around or head deep into a piece, you’re sure to find her spending time outdoors with friends and family or going down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find all sorts of inspiration she can!

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