Right after the late lunch at O’Tray Noodle on Friday afternoon, Ben and I wanted to go to Yaohan Centre to check out one little place that we’ve to been 7 years ago, the first time we visited Richmond. It’s Fok Po Tong or as the sign says 福寶堂. Below is the picture for your reference, they’re the only ones that don’t have english on their sign if you go. What’s special about this place is the type of dessert they serve.
Well, I don’t’ know if dessert is the right term to describe this. It’s more herbal medicinal jelly served with ginger syrup.
You see places like this are all over Asia. They serve herbal drinks, soups, teas, and jellies that are meant to alleviate all sorts of inflammation in your body or even strengthen your overall health . Anyhow, without getting into it too much, it’s basically a place for those who may want to eat something that may, for example, want less acne, increase bowel movement, and cool sore throats; heck, they probably have something for all three. What Ben and I specifically came here for was one thing, and one thing only and that’s their Herbal Jelly 龟苓膏 (aka. Turtle Jelly, aka. Guilingao).
A little excerpt from Wikipedia about this Herbal Jelly:
Guīlínggāo, also known as Tortoise Jelly (though not technically correct) or Turtle Jelly, is a jelly-like Chinese medicine, also sold as a dessert. It was traditionally made from the powdered plastron (bottom shell) from the critically endangered turtle Cuora trifasciata(commonly known as “three-lined box turtle”, or “golden coin turtle”, 金錢龜) and a variety of herbal products, in particular, China rootsSmilax glabra (土伏苓, Tu fu ling). Although the golden coin turtle (Cuora trifasciata) is commercially farmed in modern China, it is extremely expensive; therefore, even when turtle-derived ingredients are used in commercially available guīlínggāo, they come from other, more commonly available, turtle species.
More often, commercially available guīlínggāo sold as a dessert does not contain turtle shell powder at all, despite the product name and the prominent turtle images on most brands’ labels. They do, however, share the same herbal additives as the medicine and are similarly marketed as being good for skin complexion when ingested.
Ok, so before anyone gets their panties in a bunch- I’m sure in this day and age, Herbal Jelly is made without turtle shells. Especially at the price we get them now. I believe we paid $10.00 for a decent size bowl of fresh herbal jelly and it was served with a ginger syrup I’m sure if there was real turtle it would be much more expensive anyhow.
Ben had the warm version and I had the cold version of this jelly. I grew up eating jelly cold, so it made much more sense to me to have it served cold. It is bitter, and I would say requires a certain palate. I would say if you like eating bitter melon, then you can handle this Herbal Jelly. To combat the bitter taste, it is usually served with a ginger syrup at your discretion of course. They have a squeeze bottle of it on the table so you can add more or less syrup and the ginger flavour is quite mild and not ginger “spicy” as you would think. The jelly itself is not soft like jello, it’s much more dense so you do have to puncture this sucker to get a good scoop out.
Did the medicinal properties work? Well, I’m sure I would need more than one bowl of Herbal Jelly to really see if it does, but I will admit that after eating this I did feel a lot more energetic and oddly worked up my appetite.
Overall, I do like eating this. I grew up eating the commercial kind from the supermarket so having it fresh is just even better. I will admit, it’s definitely something that’s not everyones cup to tea. But if you do want to try it, I would suggest you get one bowl to share first.
I will also mention they sell many types of dried teas meant for specific ailments that you can take home and brew yourself. They do have have an english menu too that helps with the translation.
Fok Po Tong (福寶堂), Food Court in Yaohan Center, 3700 No 3 Road Richmond, BC, Canada