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Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters (沈师傅香港猪脚醋): Traditional HK-Style Vinegar Pig Trotters By Ex-Lao Huo Tang Owner In Chinatown

Last Updated: October 18, 2019

Written by Lee Wei Yang

Growing up in a Cantonese paternal family, I always look forward to our weekly family dinners. That’s when my grandmother would whip up her signature Cantonese dishes, which she changes up every week.

Of her huge repertoire of classic Cantonese delights, one of my favourites is vinegar pig trotters. As such, everywhere I go, I’m always on a lookout for places which offer the traditional dish.

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This time, my search brought me to the recently-renovated Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Singapore’s largest hawker centre.

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Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters (沈师傅香港猪脚醋) is—as its name suggests—a vinegar pig trotters speciality store.

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Finding the stall was quite challenging—as is locating any other stall—in the humongous hawker centre. However, once you spot its brightly-lit signboard, you know you’re at the right spot.

Additionally, you can also look for the eye-catching display of black sweet rice vinegar bottles at the storefront.

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These bottles of Chan Kong Thye Black Sweet Rice Vinegar (S$6.80) are actually available for purchase. I assumed they were also a key ingredient in the dishes we were about to taste.

The man behind the business is none other than 72-year-old Chef Sham. Unbeknownst to many, he has a rather prominent reputation in the culinary world.

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The Hong Kong chef is actually the founder of the popular soup restaurant chain, Lao Huo Tang. He sold the business many years back to set up his own hawker stall.

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During our visit, I managed to briefly speak with Chef Sham and found him a remarkably polite and humble elderly gentleman.

It was evident that he was very passionate about his authentic Hong Kong-style dishes. We couldn’t wait to try them out!

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First up was, of course, Chef Sham’s signature Vinegar Pig Trotters 香港猪脚醋 (S$6.80).

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Every morning, they prepare an enormous pot of it that will last them through the day.

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Then, only when a customer orders, they will heat it up in a claypot before serving.

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Our vinegar pig trotters were bubbling-hot when they came to us.

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To our delight, we spotted a decent number of pig trotter chunks at first glance. Not only that, but they also filled the claypot to its brim with broth.

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The first thing I did was to drink a spoonful of the broth. And the herbaceous and vinegary notes hit me and jerked me awake.

I managed to pick up an underlying layer of sweetness too, which balanced the broth’s overall sourness.

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Nevertheless, if you’re not a fan of sour flavours, I recommend drizzling the broth over your White Rice (S$0.50). Even though I typically prefer having the vinegar broth on its own, I still did it anyway.

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As for the pig trotters themselves, I loved that they were all in sizeable chunks.

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Yet, they were so tender that, with just a slight tug from our chopsticks, they broke into smaller pieces.

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Despite so, the meat still had a satisfying chew to it. I couldn’t resist but dip the smaller chunks into the broth to soak up all its flavours.

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Meanwhile, the pork fat and skin were also sinfully delicious. Super juicy, they melted in my mouth like butter; I didn’t have to tire my jaw out chewing as I feared I would have to.

So if you wish to have an ultra-smooth baby-like complexion, make sure you finish every bit of them!

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Last but not least, the dish also came with a braised egg.

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As I expected, the egg was tough and dry on the inside since they braised it for quite long. However, drenching it with the broth managed to solve the problem.

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Chef Sham’s dish was definitely reminiscent of my Cantonese grandmother’s, except that he wasn’t as heavyhanded with the rice vinegar. That said, I reckon more people will find his version more palatable and be able to enjoy it.

Also, if you’d like to gift Chef Sham’s Vinegar Pig Trotters to someone, they’ve got just the solution for that.

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They offer a Special Package (S$7.80) that comes with an aesthetic-looking container. Not only that, but you can also store it in the freezer and save your Vinegar Pig Trotters for another day!

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Vinegar pig trotters aside, Chef Sham’s menu also featured a Sesame Oil Chicken (S$4.50).

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Right off the bat, we noticed that the gravy was slightly less viscous than what we usually get elsewhere. That said, I could still taste the strong sour notes from the rice vinegar they used.

What took me by surprise, instead, was the spiciness of red chilli. 

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The gravy had only a few slices of red chilli in it, yet it packed a satisfying punch. Looks sure can be deceiving.

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For the star of the dish, the chicken, Chef Sham used drumstick cuts.

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To our satisfaction, every piece was tender and juicy, and broke off cleanly with every bite.

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Complementing the chicken were several pieces of tiny shiitake mushrooms, or heong gu in Cantonese.

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Not only were they soft and juicy, but they also acted as a vessel for the gravy. Like a sponge, they soaked up much of it, along with its addictive umami and sour notes.

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Chef Sham’s homely traditional dishes have definitely earned my nod of approval. I can definitely see myself returning for a comforting and nourishing bowl of his Vinegar Pig Trotters in particular.

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After all, as the Chinese proverb goes, “姜还是老的辣 (the older the ginger, the spicier it is)”. Wisdom comes with experience, and Chef Sham is definitely not short of both, as his dishes have proven.

Expected Damage: S$4 – S$6.80 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters (沈师傅香港猪脚醋)

335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, #02-007, Singapore 050335

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Chef Sham H.K. Vinegar Trotters (沈师傅香港猪脚醋)

335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, #02-007, Singapore 050335

Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm (Daily)

Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm (Daily)

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