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Chinese Barbecue

Chinese Barbecue

Barbecue might conjure up images of steaks and salad in a backyard, and while this is also common in Hong Kong it comes nowhere near the popularity of Chinese barbecue. Known as siu mei, restaurants serving these barbecued meats -- they also usually serve a delicious type of steamed chicken – are your window into traditional Chinese roasts.

It is impossible to miss this cuisine in Hong Kong because after the highly-seasoned meats are roasted on spits over an open fire or in a rotisserie oven, they are hung inside the restaurant and visible from the street. You’ll see it hanging in fast-food chains, high-end restaurants and supermarkets. It is a sight – and taste -- that is ubiquitous wherever there are Chinese communities.

Chinese barbecue restaurants usually have highly flexible menus that allow you to pair your roast meats with rice, noodles or rice noodles. Combo plates enable solo diners to sample several meats in one meal.

What to order?

Get your Chinese barbecue expedition off on the right track with these recommendations.

Barbecued pork

In Chinese this is called char siu, which translates as ‘fork burned’. It refers to seasoned boneless pork, barbecued over an open fire or covered oven on forks. The pork is seasoned with honey, spices, fermented tofu and rice wine. Malt sugar provides its characteristic glaze.

Kylie Kwong, chef, host of a Discovery Channel woking show and cookbook author, recommends the Honey Glazed BBQ Pork at West Villa Restaurant:

Barbecued pork
West Villa Restaurant
Address: 5/F, Lee Gardens One, Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
Tel: +852 2882 2110
 How to get there: MTR Causeway Bay Station Exit F and walk down Yun Ping Road for about three minutes.

Barbecued goose

Seasoned goose, roasted in a charcoal oven until the meat is tender and the skin crispy, then sliced and served with plum sauce. ‘Airplane Roast Goose’ has become a popular souvenir in recent years. The roast goose is prepared in travel-safe packaging.

Food critic Chua Lam recommends Rice with Singature Roasted Goose Leg at Yung Kee Restaurant:

Barbecued goose
Yung Kee Restaurant
Address: 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong Island
Tel: +852 2522 1624
 How to get there: MTR Central Station, Exit D2

Roast pork

Roast pork comes in two types. Siu yuk has its origins in village celebrations, when a whole pig would be slaughtered and cooked.  This variety of roast usually involves cooking a 10 to 20 kg seasoned pig in a charcoal oven until the skin becomes crispy while the meat remains tender. A large fork is used to place the pig’s carcass in the oven, while hot water is applied to it to cause the skin to tighten.

The second type is a roast suckling pig. This is a two to six month-old pig, roasted at high temperature in a charcoal oven until meat is tender and skin is crispy. This is a banquet favourite and usually the first dish to be served. You can order it in restaurants too.

Leung Ka Kuen, food columnist and author, recommends the Crispy Roasted Pork Combo with Rice at Café de Coral:

Roast pork
Café de Coral
Address: G/F & 1/F, Chinachem Tower, 34-37 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong Island
Tel: +852 2104 7092
Did you know?
Pairing roast pork with wine

Chinese roast pork pairs well with both red and white wines. A simple wine that is lighter than the oaked flavours is best. Good red wines for this dish would include an AOC Bordeaux, a Bourgogne or a Cotes du Rhone. For white, try a full-bodied Chardonnay or an aged Sauvignon Blanc.

Chinese roast pork pairs well with both red and white wines


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