Snapshots from Hong Kong: Gold Coin Chicken, aka Cholesterol Sandwich, from Manor Restaurant
From February 9 to 17, I visited Hong Kong on a trip sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Here's a look at something I ate during my trip. Make sure to check out my other Snapshots from Hong Kong.
The name gold coin chicken (gum chin gai in Cantonese) somewhat describes this sandwich's shape, but it tells little else about its components. For one thing, there's no straight-up chicken meat in it—but it does contain a slice of chicken liver. Besides that, this deceptively dainty-looking sandwich is mostly pork-based in the form of round, tender roast pork slices layered with square, charred slabs of roasted pork fat. Slivers of taro also get in there, providing a smidge of starch to buffer the meat. Its perimeter glistens thanks to the sweet glaze applied while the fillings get roasted on a spit (as illustrated in this blog). Sandwiching this meat-fat-taro stack are two thin, round steamed buns, which provide little barrier between the fillings and your inevitably fat-slicked fingers.
This old-fashioned dish is no longer as widely available as it once was, but if you order it ahead of time you can get a great version of it at Manor Restaurant—the best version in Hong Kong, according to my friend Susan Jung, food and wine editor of the South China Morning Post. If gold coin chicken ever needed an official spokesperson, she would be it. She invariably brings out-of-towners to Manor primarily for their gold coin chicken (HK$48 per piece), and since I only had time to share one meal with her, Manor is where we went.
It's a shame gold coin chicken isn't more common. The roast pork + pork fat + chicken liver formula (taro isn't traditional; it may be a Manor specialty) is a no-brainer for success. And while I found my sandwich pretty damn filling, Susan noted that this version looked a bit meager. She commented that during a past visit, the sandwich was so tall she had a hard time fitting it in her mouth. No matter the size, it earns the nickname "cholesterol sandwich," as Susan and her friends like to call it.
About the author: Robyn Lee is the editor of A Hamburger Today and takes many of the photos for Serious Eats. She'll also doodle cute stuff when necessary. Read more from Robyn at her personal food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.