Buddha Jumped Over The Wall & We Had Champagne


This started out a year ago when someone (Jeff, I think) suggested we do a “Buddha Jump Over The Wall” dinner. And what better accompaniment to this fine Fujian dish than Champagne?

That’s the easy part; what’s difficult is finding a restaurant able to deliver quality without cutting our throats.

Finding a restaurant that can do a good “Buddha Jump Over The Wall” (BJOTW) at a reasonable price is not easy. This is because the BJOTW is one of the most complex dishes in Chinese cuisine and takes the better part of a week to prepare from scratch, starting with the preparation of the soup stock and the shark fins.

Legend has it that if you google hard enough you will find the origin of this highly complex dish, however, I will save you the trouble and direct you to the one of the most complete reference to the origins of the Buddha Jump Over The Wall written by my friend, Dim Sum Dolly.

The recipes for BJOTW are also Legion, but the common denominators are a basic stock made from chicken and duck; other essential ingredients include Shark fins, whole Abalones, dried scallops, Sea Cucumbers, mushrooms and Jinhua Ham. The last being the Achilles heel of most versions because without Jinhua Ham, the soup will lack depth and no other ham will do.


Typically, a single pot of BJOTW is served as 3-4 courses with each layer of ingredients in the pot forming a course, so this is one of the criteria we used when calling the various restaurants around town. We tried the ones famous for Sharks fin dishes but all came up wanting. Some even wanted to charge an exorbitant price for BJOTW that could only yield 3 courses. We are not misers but we don’t like to get our throats cut.

In the end, after almost a year of searching, we decided on Wo Peng Eatery because Chef Julian Tam is experienced in handling Sharks fin, could accommodate our needs and was reasonably priced.

So it was with great ceremony that Chef Tam brought out the large pot of BJOTW for everyone to admire before removing it to a side table for serving.

2008August23-BJOTW-24          2008August23-BJOTW-30

Chef Tam’s version had 3 main courses of Sharks fin with dried scallops, whole Abalone with mushroom and rich broth with Sea Cucumber, Chicken and Ham. There was a side course of chicken remnants which I really enjoyed because, frankly, I like stewed chicken.

There were two major factors that prevented Chef Tam’s BJOTW from being outstanding. One was the temperature; the whole concoction lacked that fierce “wok hei”, instead it was served only slightly hot which, while still good, was a disappointment because everything did not taste as good as it can be. There are many factors contributing, but I guess there was a long waiting period where the BJOTW cooled down.

The other factor was the Ham. It wasn’t Jinhua. Thus the entire concoction fell apart without that umami flavor to bind all other flavors and give them depth.


What stole the show that night was the Claypot Rice with sausage preserved by Chef Tam himself.


This I almost could not stop eating. Just the plain rice perfumed by the sausage and drizzled with some of the special soy-based sauce is enough to drive a frenzy. Even without the North Wind, Chef Tam’s sausage was a delight with its strong rosy scent.

And of course, what’s a Champagne dinner without great Champagnes?

2003 L'Intemporelle, Grand Cru Champagne Mailly          2008August23-BJOTW-6
2008August23-BJOTW-33          2008August23-BJOTW-44
2008August23-BJOTW-34          2008August23-BJOTW-49

I was grateful that no one brought a powerful, masculine Champagne like a Krug because I am not sure my palate can take a lot of that. Instead, to my delight, everyone brought Champagnes that were easy-drinking and on the fruity side where notes of green apples, berries and honey-suckle dominate.

While I loved all of them, the Vintage Bollinger La Grande Annee 1999 was the eye-opener for me. Green apples and raspberries in sunlight with a finish that just never seem to quite end. Wow.


This was a great dinner that was almost a year in it’s planning. Florence took the lead to chase down all the leads. While the BJOTW was not the best I’ve had, it was still good and I think with a little planning, those factors I mentioned are easily addressable. The other courses were excellent with the fish and toufu cubes providing a slight mystery on the components (it was curry leaf) and the Claypot Rice was outstanding.

The Champagnes were awesome, I think a much better spread than you’ll find anywhere in town. And we managed to convince a dear friend who’s become a hermit to finally join us. He was the life of the party. Definitely the best dinner I’ve had in a long while.


Posted on 29th Oct 2008 in Cantonese, Makankaki, Tze Char


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