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Portland, Oregon chef Naomi Pomeroy recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, where she ate the only chicken she ever wants to eat again.
It was at a restaurant in Lido Beach in the New Territories, north of Hong Kong proper, at a restaurant called Yin Yang Kitchen. It feels really remote—there’s nothing else nearby—and you have to walk down through a village to get to it. You couldn’t really find it unless someone meets you and takes you there. The chef, Margaret Xu, is bringing back many of the traditional folk foods of Hong Kong, before it was colonized by the British. What she’s doing is super interesting. My sous chef and I were the only ones in the restaurant; it’s so remote that she only opens when she knows she has people coming.
She built a clay oven out of a huge terra-cotta planter to cook chicken, which is a traditional technique from old Hong Kong that’s no longer used. First of all, the chicken in Hong Kong is outrageous: It’s got really yellow fat, and it’s so flavorful. Dude, I am telling you: This is the best f**king thing I have eaten in my entire life. She cooks the chicken in the terra-cotta pot for four or five hours, and I swear to god, I literally cried. Tears came out of my eyes when I ate this chicken. I promise you. This is what I said to the chef: “I don’t ever want to cook or eat chicken again in my life. This is it.” I said, “What did you do? How is this possible?” As a chef, you think, ‘Oh, she brined it,’ or ‘She pumped air under the skin.’ You think there has to be a trick. And she just said, “I salted it.”