DONG GUA & LOH BAT
Last night the winds picked up, the humidity lifted and the temperature dipped (just slightly). I was already meeting a friend for dinner so the obvious choice became hotpot (like we needed an excuse). I had wanted to give Calf Bone King another bash only to be told they were experiencing a power shortage and to return in 2 hours. Aiieyah. What to do? We decided upon a large restaurant round the corner that happened to be part of the Star Seafood Group.
The hotpot was average and certainly not worth a review (the soup second-rate – need I say more) but in the midst of this mediocrity laid a gem or two. Among the regulars we ordered, my dining companion suggested loh bat (daikon/white radish) and then dong gua (winter melon).
“Do you mean which would I prefer” I asked. “No” was the reply, ”I think we should order both”.
Against my better judgement, we went ahead and ordered both, and well wasn’t that the best idea. They were probably my 2 favourite items of the entire meal – unusual for a staunch meat eater like myself! The dong gua cooked in the broth until meltingly tender, the texture almost silky, the flavour subtle yet distinct. In contrast the loh bat held its form and kept its bite. The rich radishy flavour mixed with the broth resulted in something meaty yet almost sweet, and very morish – I couldn’t believe it.
Later that night as I was fondly recollecting my new found favourites, it occurred to me that they were both yin foods, in other words, cooling. With our chosen soup being a Sichuan ‘má là’ (surprise surprise) and hotpot being naturally ‘yeet hei’ (heaty) was it any wonder we found the melon and radish so soothing and so enticing at the same time? Because that’s what it was like – I was compelled to eat more. Perhaps it was my body’s way of telling me to balance out the meal or possibly it was just the perfect conduit for spicy soupy goodness on a chilly evening. Whichever it was, loh bat and dong gua are unquestionably very “cool” and definitely more than just a bit on the side.