FLAVOUR EXPATS March 14th - (Backdoor Kitchen VS The Hungry Hakka)

Supperclubs & Popups | Chinese | Italian | Malaysian | Singaporean | BYOB | Eat and Meet | Pop Up | Supperclub

Rating: 8.5

hosted by FlavourExpats by Backdoor Kitchen

Event Photo


The Hungry Hakka is how Wen Lin Soh, founder of Edible Experiences, decided to label herself for this series. The Hakka, nicknamed the Jewish of China, are nomad people who left everything behind in order to allow the future generations to live in a better place. If some of their culture is slowly fading away, the food roots remain strong. The Hungry Hakka is determined to make the name of her people hard to forget for chef Rob!

Come and see one of the rare Wen's kitchen appearance! The destiny of world cusine is up your fork!


Complimentary glass of Prosecco offered by the BackDoor Kitchen

Starter - Comfort food


HAKKA: Samsui Chicken - A celebratory dish of silky poached chicken thigh, wrapped in cool crisp lettuce and dressed in a sassy ginger garlic sauce. Hear the story of how the poverty of the Hakkas in China led to the unlikely financial independence and social freedom of Hakka women working as Samsui women (construction workers) in South East Asia.


ITALY: Fettuccine ripassate Mari e Monti - There is one thing that will make feel an Italian at ease as nothing else: his daily dish of pasta. Rob will make some homemade Fettuccine a Pasta with a Parma ham, mushroom, pea sauce with just a touch of tomato and cream (as his Nonno used to love) topped with a char-grilled prawn skewer. Get your pillow ready as this is pasta dreamland! 


Main - Pork Belly!

HAKKA: Mui Choy Siew Yoke - Sweet-salty slow cooked pork belly with pickled greens. Many Hakka recipes have faded and morphed along with dispersing generations, but this dish holds fast in the memories of Hakkas, from Panama to Penang. Even vegetarians haven't been able to resist this temptation from Wen. Find out why.


ITALY: Porceddu! Crispy Pork Belly flavoured with myrthle berries, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and black pepper. Slowly cooked to get the most succulent crackling. This is Rob's take on Sardinian classic. Served on a bed of braised onion, with a roasted carrot and celery side, and a luscious spoonful of Rob's secret gravy!



An Italian inspired dessert followed by a Hakka Chinese kick ass bomb of sweetness

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Contrasts, good food and lots of laughs

Rating: 9

Dave Hollander attended in March 2014, reviewed on 17 March 2014

Sometimes there's nothing more delightful than a surprise. I've tried various regional Chinese cuisines, but had never heard of the Hakka before. Up against this in the good-natured East-West cook-off were Backdoor Kitchen's exemplary Italian dishes.

So, would novelty trump the seemingly familiar on the night? Would any of the wines we had chosen match? Would our waistbands accommodate six courses of culinary adventuring?

Comfort food: Wen's Samsui Chicken (poached chicken thighs with a zingy ginger and garlic sauce, wrapped in lettuce leaves) was a revelation. For a start, I love dishes on shared plates, but the combination of a punchy sauce with the chicken really was a winning one - and surprisingly light. On the other hand, Rob offered us a nicely presented plate of Fettuccine ripassate Mari e Monti. "Pasta!" you cry. "How boring! How mundane! How unoriginal!" Well... how wrong you would be. The homemade fettuccine in a perfectly balanced sauce was topped with a juicy large prawn - delicious, flavoursome and addictive (one of our Italian dining companions went up for seconds and thirds!). This is not the first time my expectations of an apparently straightforward dish have been wildly exceeded and I dearly hope it is not the last.

Pork belly: the challenge for this course was for each chef to present the same ingredient. Both slow-cooked their pork belly to get the most out of it. The sweet-salty Hakka version was contrasted with pickled greens - a little too salty for my palate, but very tasty. Pickles are a well-known complement to fatty meat in many styles of cooking (sauerkraut and kimchi spring to mind) and this combination is certainly one I'll be adding to my repertoire. The Backdoor Kitchen version was the classic Sardinian dish Porceddu, flavoured with distinctive myrtle berries, bay and thyme. The roasted vegetables were a good match for this toothsome hearty fare and the 'secret gravy' was to die for. I later found out that a whole bottle of marsala was included in this divine reduction.

Dessert: I have to confess that by this point I feared I was about to burst, but soldiered on regardless. Having an aversion to very sweet things, I was relieved to be presented with a basil-flavoured gelato as Rob's final course - a great palate cleanser. But is was Wen's dessert I found most startling: rice cakes with mayonnaise and pork floss. Bonkers, perhaps, but actually rather moreish and certainly not cloying.

What a feast for the senses - challenging tastebuds and preconceptions, this Flavour Expats night was as convivial a meal as I've had and the service was great. Was it meant to be a competition? I don't really think so - more a voyage of exploration. Let's call it a close-fought draw. Roll on the next one!

The dishes were interesting and generous proportions, however the desert a little disappointing

Rating: 8

stephfoster attended in March 2014, reviewed on 17 March 2014

Really enjoyed the cook-off between the Italy and Hakka, China.

The two chefs were great - discussing the foods and how the dish is homely for the region. The starters (wrapping chicken with lettuce and gorgeous fresh garlic and ginger sauce + spinach, squid ink and plain fettuccine with peas and lush sauce) and mains were delicious (Pork Belly Italian and Hakka (Kiu nyuk dish)
style). However the desserts left us all disappointed and left us a bit flat. The basil ice-cream with berry coulis was interesting but served on a cold slice of barely toasted white bread was odd - we couldn't' believe that it was just toast1 The Hakka version of a dessert was rice crackers topped with squeeze mayonnaise and liberal sprinkle of pork floss (it felt very studenty) thankfully the ginger pounded tea was refreshing.

On a side note unfortunately the evening continued close to midnight which meant some people had to leave to be able to catch the last tube home.

Over all it was an interesting and enjoyable evening, shame to finish on a bit of a down with the disappointment of the desserts.

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