Sweet and Sour Pork

Every Cantonese restaurant would have Sweet and Sour Pork in its menu, but rarely it is known that its coming into being was not for Cantonese, but for foreigners instead. In Cantonese, Sweet and Sour Pork is pronounced as “gu1 lo1 yuk7”, but it used to have another appellation “gu2 lo6 yuk7,” literally “Ancient Meat.” It is worthy of note that the Cantonese transcription might look seemingly identical, but the tones make a lot of difference semantically. The dish was founded in the Qing Dynasty while Guangzhou was a trading port receiving a large number of foreign business people, who invariably would seek culinary comfort in local restaurants. However, the foreigners and the locals had different food cultural backgrounds whereas the former seemed to have a taste bud for sweet and sour foods and a dislike for bones in meat. Then some chef at a restaurant managed to create a new dish out of a traditional dish called Sweet and Sour Pork Ribs. He first proceeded to debone the pork ribs, marinate them with seasonings, rub some starch over them before deep-frying, which was to render the meat crunchy to the taste, and finish by stir-frying them in a sweet and sour sauce in a wok. The introduction of this new dish was highly commended by the foreigners. However, as mentioned in the above, foreigners had a hard time coming to grip with Cantonese tones. They mispronounced the old appellation for Sweet and Sour Pork as “Ancient Meat”. Though a mistake that was, the locals found it interesting and started using it instead. Originally, the popularity of Sweet and Sour Pork was only restricted to the foreigners in Guangzhou. Later on, as the Cantonese locals had emigrated to Europe and the United States and opened their own restaurants to started serving Sweet and Sour Pork to their guests. The dish soon caught fire in the Chinatowns overseas. Eventually, this legendary honor returned home and became the glory in the Cantonese restaurants’ menu in the Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macau.

Recommended Shops

1) Sang Kee
Address: 1-2/F, Hip Sang Building, 107-115 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Telephone: 25752239/25752236

2) Lee House Restaurant
Address: 2/F, OfficePlus@WanChai, 303 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
Telephone: 28213368

3) Canton Room
Address: 1/F, Luk Kwok Hotel, 72 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai
Telephone: 28663806

4) Fook Lam Moon
Address: Shop 3, G/F, Newman House, 35-45 Johnston Road, Wan Chai
Telephone: 28660663