Who knew serving up something so simple could be so special? Rice is a food with roots. It's nothing new, but it continues to take centre stage on many menus. And when it's fried, it's transformed. Whipped up with vegetables, meat, or both, it changes from a boring staple to a moreish main.
Typically, fried rice is mixed with egg, fresh crunchy veggies and tender meat, like the signature fried rice at Xin Dau Ji. But there's always room for creative flair, like at Wong Chi Kei where chorizo is used for a Portuguese twist. And at My Tai Tai, you can experience a Thai version of the classic with one of their Khao Pad dishes.
Stir-fried and filled with flavour
The main ingredient might not seem all that exciting, but the way it takes on a new taste with a few simple tweaks is magical. First up, rice is boiled or steamed to give it that fluffy finish. Then, after a day of rest to release the moisture, it's time for the stir fry – done rapidly, over a very high heat.
Dressed with aromatic additions such as garlic, spring onion and chilli, the rice is enriched and packed with flavour. Drizzled with a dash of sauce, or in a bowl for dipping, fried rice takes on an entirely new texture. And it doesn't get any more traditional than Yangzhou fried rice. A cultural staple, also dubbed yang chow like at Xin Dau Ji, this style of special fried rice takes succulent shrimp and char siu pork, adding swirls of spring onion and peas to the rice and egg for an unbeatable taste of home.
From lunching on leftovers to super cool street food
For a dish that's so simple, it's not surprising that its origins are just as humble. Traditionally made using leftover ingredients from other meals, fried rice is as comforting as it is filling. From economic to elegant, it's now a street food sensation – and not just in Hong Kong.
But here it thrives. And it's no surprise that a dish so simple has versions all over the world. Thai fried rice uses jasmine rice, and has many different regional variants. My Tai Tai offers up both chicken and pork, proving that there's more to authentic Thai food than just curries and pad thai.
Cooked up Canton style, or served Szechuan
Yangzhou might be an essential style of fried rice, but it's not the only take to try. Using those leftover ingredients, fried rice is a dish dying to be customised, so customise it we shall. Like the Cantonese spin-off with its thick gravy topping, or the Szechuan-influenced firecracker spiced rice, decorated with garlic, spring onion, red onion and chilli sauce for its trademark tang.
And then there's Hokkien variation of fried rice, as served at Wong Chi Kei. Taking on a Fujian twist, egg fried rice mixed with mushrooms, meat and crunchy fresh veggies, with lashings of sauce poured over it. The overall effect is soothing, decadent, and – in our books – unbeatable.
For days when you want to fill up on an portion of fried rice, make an order with Deliveroo.