Beat the heat : the best winter melon soup in town

Summer’s setting in and restaurants are responding to the heat with winter melon soup. The AP team hunt around Hong Kong to find the best soup in town.

Winter melon soup is known, despite the name, to cool you down. As rusty airconditioners drip condensation on the heads of sweaty shoppers, restaurants gear up with summer seasonal favourites. Recognised in traditional chinese medicine for its cooling properties, winter melon is used to clear heat and toxins, as well as reduce water retention and improve your metabolism. The good news – it tastes great too. Once hollowed out, this melon can be combined with a fish and meat stock, making a great soup in summer. The melon pulp adds an interesting texture to this flavourful creation. 

In good Hong Kong fashion many restaurants are featuring the soup this summer. Yung Kee does a particularly impressive and traditional soup in a large melon, making a great centrepiece for a dinner party. Chef Choi explains that one has to stew the broth with pork, chicken and smoked ham in the winter melon for three hours to absorb the flavour. After that shrimps, crab meat, scallop, roasted duck, mushrooms and lotus seeds are added. Popular chain MX are doing a more casual version, with individual melon portions. They claim their petite melons are from a ‘pollution free’ source and have more nutritional value than the larger melons.  

Cheun Cheung Kui   in Mongkok serves boht Hakka and Cantonese cuisine. Usually sold a la carte at HK$120 a serve, the winter melon soup can now be ordered for only HK$40 for a two-to-four person set dinner. Heichinrou , originally set up in Chinatown, Yokahama, is serving their winter melon soup in two sizes but orders must be made 1-2 days in advance.  Holly Restaurant, a   Tsuen Wan establishment opened for over 30 years, treasures their winter melon soup so much that they only serve 30 portions every night at the meagre price of HK$28. You have to get in quick though, as they usually run out by 7:30pm. 

Jeannie says : Soups are very difficult to pair, especially Cantonese soups since they are served and consumed very hot! However, if one had to pair winter melon soup with wine, I would recommend a savoury medium-bodied Bordeaux white with fine texture to pair with the soft winter melon – such as Domaine de Chevalier Blanc or Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc with about four-five years of age. These whites have enough substance and body to stand up to the complex flavours and the maturity of the wine echoes the umami flavours of the stock.

The soup is also meant to be great for a detox, so if you are struggling after too many crisp summer white wines, indulge guilt free. Tired of eating out?  Read a recipe for winter melon soup here.


Yung Kee : 32-40 Wellington Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2522 1624

Heichinrou : G/F &1/F, Nexxus Building,41 Connaught Road Central, 2868 9229

Holly Restaurant : 1 Cheong Tai Street, Tsuen Wan, 2492 8165

Cheun Cheung Kui : Shop E, 2/F & G/F, Lisa House, 33 Nelson Street, Mong Kok, 2577 3833 


Found your own favourite? Leave a comment and let us know.