Header image courtesy of Chop Chop (via Facebook)
When done right, char siu rice (叉燒飯) is one of life’s greatest pleasures—an unbeatable combination of succulent fatty cuts of perfectly charred barbecue pork dripping in a sticky-sweet glaze on top of fluffy white rice. Yet, as ubiquitous as this Cantonese roasted meat dish is—making regular appearances in cha chaan teng (茶餐廳; Hong Kong-style cafés) and dim sum joints—it’s surprisingly difficult to find places that do justice to Hong Kong’s quintessential comfort food. Too often, you end up with tough, dry, and leathery chunks that make you think you’re chewing on a mattress! Luckily, we’re here to save you from disappointing siu mei (and a potential choking hazard) with the best spots in Hong Kong for char siu rice!
Hefty portions of freshly roasted meats served at this Sheung Wan lunchtime hotspot will give you the meat sweats in the best way possible. You will find here a huge variety of Hong Kong cha chaan teng classics, including satay beef noodles, fried eggplant with minced pork, and mapo tofu, but the barbecued meat is what office workers come here in droves for. Their signature honey char siu rice ($50) features a glistening mound of thick, meaty slices slathered in a subtly sweet glaze—it’s the perfect answer to your sweet and salty cravings. And if you’ve got calories to spare, definitely order the extra fatty char siu for the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth cuts!
Dragon State Kitchen Restaurant, 38 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan | (+852) 2342 3189
If longevity is the mark of a well-run establishment, then Joy Hing Roasted Meat must be in the top echelon. Founded nearly a century ago, this Cantonese roast meat specialist has been satisfying masses of hungry carnivores since the late Qing dynasty. While their location and shop name have both gone through multiple incarnations over the decades, one thing that has remained consistent is their high-quality siu mei (燒味 ; Cantonese roasted meats). Using old-school roasting methods and time-honoured homemade marinades, juicy mouthfuls and deep, smokey flavour are always guaranteed. Their signature char siu rice ($36) is minimally garnished with just a drizzle of dark soy sauce and a dollop of ginger scallion sauce, allowing the natural flavours of the star ingredient to shine.
Joy Hing Roasted Meat, G/F, Chong Hing Building, 265–267 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2519 6639
From the elegant décor and the exquisitely plated dishes to the pictorial instructions on how to properly enjoy their char siu rice, Canton Room misses not a single detail in ensuring an unparalleled dining experience. Unsurprisingly, the chefs at this high-end Cantonese restaurant have taken their time to perfect their recipe for “sorrowful rice”—the legendary barbecued pork and egg rice bowl featured in Stephen Chow’s 1996 Hong Kong comedy The God of Cookery. After launching two different iterations in 2016 and 2017, they rolled out their final version—Sorrowful Rice 3.0 ($338)—in 2019. And we have to say, all the hard work has truly paid off—the fatty and oh-so-juicy char siu paired with the onion and roasted pork oil-infused rice is like a gift from the heavenly realms!
Canton Room, 1/F, Luk Kwok Hotel, 72 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai | (+852) 2866 3806
Congee and noodles may be their specialities, but that doesn’t mean the barbecued meats here are a menu afterthought. Unpretentious yet utterly delectable, the gourmet barbecued pork with rice ($74) layers glossy, flavour-packed char siu and a golden sunny-side-up egg over steaming white rice. And if a runny egg yolk does not appeal to your palate, you can order it fully cooked or swap it for a salted egg—which lends an exceptionally rich umami flavour to the dish! Combining skillfully executed food with a spacious and stylishly decorated setting, even the most seasoned barbecue eater will be coming back for repeat visits.
King’s Palace Congee & Noodle Bar, Shop 19, L1, Festival Walk, 80 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong | (+852) 2265 7777
Known almost exclusively by its Chinese name, Sun Kwai Heung BBQ Food (新桂香燒臘) is as local as it gets: hunks of lacquered roasted meat hanging through the clear glass window, a Chinese-only menu, and a few foldable tables at the storefront. Nestled in the neighbourhood of Chai Wan, this unassuming spot has long been revered among locals for its outstanding char siu. Boasting a perfect meat-to-fat ratio, a luscious sweet-salty glaze, and beautifully charred edges, the char siu rice ($38) is a supremely affordable yet gloriously decadent affair. Can’t get enough of their roasts? Sun Kwai Heung also caters to takeout orders so you can purchase and bring home beautifully roasted meats by the pound!
Sun Kwai Heung BBQ Food (新桂香燒臘), G/F, 17 Kam Tam Yun House, 345 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan | (+852) 2556 1183
No char siu rice round-up is complete without mentioning Mott 32, the upscale Cantonese restaurant with a modern twist that has cemented itself as one of the most raved-about Chinese fine-dining destinations since opening in 2014. A meal here may cost you a pretty penny, but just take a bite of their barbecue pluma Ibérico pork ($325), and you will agree that it's well worth the splurge for a special occasion. The gourmet Spanish pork and yellow mountain honey really take the humble Cantonese classic to otherworldly levels. While this dish technically does not come with rice, you can easily add on a side of steamed white rice ($20) to make a complete meal.
Mott 32, Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4–4A Des Voeux Road, Central | (+852) 2898 3788
With a name like Chop Chop, it’s no surprise that this Cantonese BBQ spot whips up some of the best char siu rice in town. With long, sleek tables and light wood furnishings, Chop Chop offers a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for diners to indulge in a meaty feast. Apart from its unique modern setting, the wide-ranging menu is also a major pulling point for the local restaurant. There are more than five moreish options just for char siu! Take your pick from the likes of pork belly char siu ($69), char siu pork ribs ($59), and lean & mean char siu ($59) to pair with either rice or noodles. For a classic char siu and runny egg combo, chow down on Chef Dai’s Original Sorrowful Rice set ($79)—the OG version of the famed dish from The God of Cookery, on which chef Dai Lung advised. It’s so tasty that you might just find yourself on the verge of tears.
Wow Charsiu may be the new kid in town, but they have already established themselves as a solid barbecue pork purveyor in a matter of months—just look at the crowds milling about the entrance for proof. This hole-in-the-wall eatery in Sheung Wan serves its slow-cooked char siu in giant paper tubs between multiple layers of veggie-speckled rice, delighting patrons with thick-cut cubes of tender pork with each bite. Offering playful spins on the classic dish, you can also choose from three delicious marinades—honey ($54), citrus ($58), or spicy ($58). The moderately spicy char siu is aromatic with distinctive Sichuan flavours while the citrus variation is yuzu-forward and brings a refreshing element to the meaty dish.
Wow Charsiu, 14 Hillier Street, Sheung Wan | (+852) 9856 6264