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10 must-try Cantonese barbecue restaurants in Hong Kong

By Inés Fung 6 November 2019
The concept of grilling meats over an open flame exists in many different cultures. We could debate to the death which country does it best, but instead, we’ll let the simple pleasure of Cantonese barbecue speak for itself. Cantonese roast meats, known as siu mei, are a delicacy ubiquitous to Hong Kong, and beloved by locals, expats, and tourists alike. Common types of siu mei include char siu (barbecued pork), siu yuk (roast pork belly, preferably five-layered), siu juu (roasted suckling pig) and siu ngo (roasted goose)—or its cheaper counterpart, siu ngaap (roasted duck). From traditional family recipes to elevated modern takes, we’ve picked 10 of the best Cantonese barbecue restaurants in Hong Kong that you’ve got to try.

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Old-school

Photo courtesy of @ivys_life

1. Joy Hing Roasted Meat

The family that runs Joy Hing has been roasting meat since the late 1800s of the Qing Dynasty, relocating from Guangdong to Hong Kong at the turn of the century with no breaks in operation save for World War II. Winning over the late and great Anthony Bourdain, as well as earning a Bib Gourmand recommendation from the Michelin Guide a couple of years ago, Joy Hing is famed for their pre-war grilling technique, where the meat is roasted over an old-fashioned oven that requires chefs to check the temperature with their bare hands. The result is some of the most succulent and flavourful char siu and roast goose around town, for extremely wallet-friendly prices that haven’t been changed in years. Bring a friend who can read the Chinese-only menus on the wall, because this place is as local as it gets. Joy Hing Roasted Meat, G/F, Chong Hing Building, 265–267 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2519 6639
Photo courtesy of @jaymeleo

2. Yat Lok

Yat Lok started out as a Chinese opera singer’s venture to earn more in order to support his family, and the Chu family has been chargrilling geese to perfection for over 60 years now. The original Tai Po Market location has since been replaced by the ever-crowded Stanley Street location, and what the restaurant lacks in space and comfort, they make up for with consistent quality. Yat Lok also has a shining Michelin star under their belt, all thanks to their signature roast geese. The roast geese marinade is an heirloom secret recipe, brushed onto the geese before it goes through an additional 20 steps to prepare it for the grill. The best way to enjoy these famed roast geese is by ordering a Roasted Goose Drumstick in Rice Noodle, a simple concoction of plain soup and rice vermicelli infused with deep flavours from the crispy drumstick on top. Yat Lok, 34–38 Stanley Street, Central | (+852) 2524 3882
Photo courtesy of @jinlovestoeat

3. Kam’s Roast Goose

The Kam family name is probably found under the dictionary entry for roast goose. Kam’s Roast Goose was founded by Hardy Kam, grandson of the late Kam Shui Fai, who founded the acclaimed roast goose restaurant Yung Kee Restaurant in 1942. Unsurprisingly, Kam’s Roast Goose earned a Michelin star almost immediately after its opening in 2014. Cantonese BBQ connoisseurs will agree that Hardy Kam has sustained the family name’s synonymity with impeccable roast goose, and the lines that wrap around the block outside the cosy restaurant reflect its legacy and reputation. Kam’s upholds the strict methods in sourcing and roasting geese that had catapulted Yung Kee to its revered status back in the day, with the second-generation chef from Yung Kee helming the kitchen to ensure the goose is as crisp and juicy as ever. Feeling adventurous? Try the gooseneck and head, and goose blood pudding as well.  Kam’s Roast Goose, G/F, Po Wah Commercial Center, 226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2520 1110

Read more! Filling hungry for dumplings? Here’s where to go.


Photo courtesy of @jelly_ex

4. Yue Kee

We can’t discuss roast goose in Hong Kong without mentioning Yue Kee of Sham Tseng roast goose fame. Tradition is the keyword here: Yue Kee finds its roots in the quiet coastal town of Sham Tseng and has been chargrilling their geese since 1958. Now run by the second generation of the family, they’ve managed to grow the family business without losing their heart. Yue Kee sources their geese from eight farms in Mainland China to ensure a longstanding supply of top-notch black-brown geese raised on an organic diet. The family recipe remains the same as it did in the 1950s, and the famed chargrilled goose has a distinctive smokiness on the nose while the fat is tender without being greasy. Its proximity to the airport also makes it a popular spot for tourists to get their fill before returning home or snag themselves an ‘aeroplane roast goose’ to go. Yue Kee, 9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng | (+852) 2491 0105

Photo courtesy @sharonyip__

5. Tim Kee

Tim Kee is a true hidden gem, as well as a relic of the times. Found in one of the remaining ‘mushroom pavillions’ (an iconic cooked food stall design with a cone-shaped roof) of Hong Kong, you may miss Tim Kee if not for the filled seats and long lines outside. Tim Kee insists on using a stainless steel ‘space grill’ that allows their fresh meats to develop that perfect crust along with the distinctive charcoal aroma. Yuen Long locals would prefer to keep Tim Kee their little secret, as the restaurant only makes three rounds of siu mei a day, often selling out by noon. They don’t skimp on portions at Tim Kee, ensuring that you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck and that the (long) wait is worth it. The menu here is simple, and if they run out of roast goose on rice, the roasted five-layer pork belly is a good—if not better—alternative. Wash it all down with a unique ‘black soup’, a nourishing stew that’ll help cut through the grease. Tim Kee, Shop C5, Kin Yip Street Cooked Food Market, Yuen Long | (+852) 2476 1742
Photo courtesy of @food.life_kei

6. Sing Kee

Sing Kee is the name (or is it Dow Kee? We could’ve sworn that’s what it was called before we blinked) and roasted suckling pig is the game. Roasted suckling pig is a Cantonese barbecue dish that’s more comfortable on a banquet table than in a streetside siu mei shop, as it’s traditionally a pricier choice of meat and only eaten at special occasions like weddings and shop openings. Although Sing Kee is not a historical establishment like the others mentioned in this list, its dedication to reviving old-school Cantonese cuisine doesn’t go unrecognised. Their roasted suckling pig is made to order and the crunch rivals the traditional slow-roasting method. How do they do it? The entire suckling pig is deboned and excess fat is removed, after which the marinade-filled pig is hung upside down and painted with maltose to create that divine sweet and crispy skin that we so crave. Served with a secret sauce, Sing Kee knows what they’re about, son. Sing Kee, 3/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2836 3108

Read more! Had a bit too much meat? Cleanse your body and palate at these Chinese vegetarian restaurants.


 New school

7. Chop Chop

Headed up by Chef Dai Lung, the ‘big four’ Cantonese chef portrayed in the classic Stephen Chow film God of Cookery, Chop Chop is a bright and friendly Cantonese barbecue eatery that you may mistake for a hip new café if not for the roasts that line the window. According to Chef Dai, “The best char siu has to be consumed within two hours after roasting,” and this meticulousness carries over to his cooking methods, as Chef Dai insists on roasting the meats in five separate batches every day to ensure freshness and succulence. Marinated with high-proof Chinese rose wine, the tender char siu benefits from a slow roast that leads to a light char after a prolonged Maillard reaction. Go for their signature Chop Chop Pork Belly Char Siu Rice with Scrambled Egg, a dish that pays tribute to the iconic dish from God of Cookery. Chop Chop, Shop 3, G/F, 18 Wang On Road, North Point | (+852) 3618 7718

8. John Anthony

From the outside, John Anthony looks like a whimsical set from a Wes Anderson film, and the Anglicised name usually leaves people scratching their heads. Once you step inside, however, your doubts quickly dissolve as John Anthony is probably one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in town. There’s not a lot of use for words anyway as you tuck into their signature char siu items, such as the indulgent Iberico Pork Presa Char Siu, an innovative Australian Wagyu Beef Char Siu with shredded scallion sauce, and the Australian Grass-Fed Black Angus Beef Short Rib Char Siu that’s served on the bone. These unconventional char siu dishes are all cooked to perfection with custom-built barbecue ovens that were inspired by ancient tandoor ovens from Southwest China, and you can rest easy knowing that all the meats are sustainably sourced. John Anthony, Basement Level, Lee Garden Three, 1 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay | (+852) 2898 3788

9. Madame Ching

Nestled in the trendy Star Street precinct, Madame Ching is a contemporary Cantonese roast house that hits it out of the park with its retro aesthetics and adventurous takes on pan-Chinese favourites. The barbecue roast menu offers Madame Ching’s takes on Japanese pork belly, local roasted duck, and Spanish baby back ribs, as well as the usual barbecue suspects, served with assorted pickles and homemade condiments. They may be presented on some gorgeous modern plates, but all meats are prepared traditionally in a drum oven to capture the authenticity that a roast house should have. If you’re looking for something unusual, they serve up a mean Burnt Ends Fried Rice with the charred roast pork ends. Waste not, want not, right? Madame Ching, G/F, 5 Star Street, Wan Chai | (+852) 2577 7227

10. Mott 32

Mott 32 is, to put it simply, exceptional. Named after New York’s first Chinese convenience store that opened in 1851 on 32 Mott Street, this restaurant takes pride in and pays homage to not only Hong Kong culture, but also Chinese traditions. Be sure to make a reservation and pre-order their signature Cantonese roast dishes in advance, as the kitchen’s attention to detail here can only be fully developed with time. Mott 32 boasts a special air-drying duck fridge, where their sumptuous Peking Ducks are aged for 42 days before being roasted using both Cantonese and Beijing methods in a custom duck oven with applewood chips, a process that takes 48 hours from start to finish. Talk about time and labour intensive! Another time-consuming signature dish is their classic Barbecue Pluma Iberico Pork with Yellow Mountain Honey. The roasting process takes nearly an hour and includes multiple temperature adjustments to give the pork its charred exterior. Yellow mountain honey is brushed over the pork in lieu of traditional maltose, giving it a light yet flavourful finish. We promise it’s worth the hefty price tag. Mott 32, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4–4a Des Voeux Road, Central | (+852) 2898 3788

Read more! Learn more about the signature dishes of seven different Hong Kong districts, or explore the rest of our Food & Drink section on Localiiz.

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Inés Fung

Editor

Currently based in Hong Kong by way of Calgary, Inés has always had a passion for writing and her creative work can be found in obscure literary ’zines. When she’s not busy scouring the city for the best gin-based cocktail, she can be found curled up with her journal and fur-ever friend Peanut. Don’t be surprised if you cross paths with her and she already knows all your mates.

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