Tar Pau Nation: Chef Sham's chicken and pig stomach soup and vinegar pork trotters are Cantonese classics

For soups and stews, one stall in Chinatown comes to mind - Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters, Fish Maw Pig Stomach Chicken. ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

After months of ordering food delivery, you learn to identify what will best survive the trek to your home, especially if the eatery is not in your neighbourhood.

Soups and stews are high on my list of these dishes. Not only do they maintain their taste and consistency for a long time, but they can also be easily reheated in the microwave oven or on the stove. Just make sure you use low to medium, not high, heat and you should find the food tastes pretty much the same as when it left the shop.

And if you cannot finish everything, they keep well overnight in the fridge too.

For soups and stews, one stall in Chinatown comes to mind - Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters, Fish Maw Pig Stomach Chicken. Its long name spells out its two signature dishes: pork trotters in black vinegar and a soup brewed with fish maw, pig stomach and chicken. It sells a few other items, but these two are the ones not to miss.

Chef Sham Hei - who is in his late 70s - is an immigrant from Hong Kong who founded the Lao Huo Tang chain of double-boiled soups, which he has since sold.

But, for me, the Fish Maw Pig Stomach Chicken Soup ($8.40) from his current stall is his best. The broth is milky and has a full-bodied flavour, the result of hours of simmering pork and chicken bones. It is not peppery, which is a good thing with soup so rich because the spice would just spoil it.

The single-person portion comes with a generous amount of fried fish maw and pig stomach that are tender but still have bite. The two pieces of chicken thigh are tough like old mother hen, but don't take that as a complaint. They are exactly what is needed for Cantonese soups because of their superior flavour.

Chef Sham does not require a minimum order, but it makes sense to order one or two more dishes to make the most of the delivery charge. After all, a bowl of soup alone is unlikely to fill up anyone with a hearty appetite.

The Hong Kong Vinegar Pig Trotters ($8.40) makes an excellent second dish. The flavours are perfect, with the vinegar and sugar balanced so well, you can drink the brew on its own. There are about six pieces of trotter - some bigger than others - in my order, plus a hard-boiled egg. The pork is nice and firm, but I am not a fan of hard-boiled egg, especially one that has been cooked till it has turned rubbery.

I am not taken with the Red Beancurd Pig Trotters ($5) either. The three large pieces of meaty trotter are good, but the sauce is watery, more like a soup than the stew I was expecting. The flavour could also be more robust. The dish's bright red colour is also rather disconcerting because I can't imagine where it comes from. It is certainly not from the beancurd, which has a much deeper tone.

Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters, Fish Maw Pig Stomach Chicken

02-007 Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Tel: 8222-9212

How to order: Go to Chef Sham's website. There is no minimum order.

Delivery charge: Calculated on check-out. I paid $10.60 plus a $1.66 service fee.

4 out of 5 stars

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