Tuesday, September 30, 2008

5 Food You Must Eat In Hong Kong: No 2

No. 2: Roasted Meat, Cantonese Style




You must've seen those golden brown ducks, chickens and pork hanging in the front windows of Chinese restaurants, calling you in for a bite. Whenever I go to any western city, the sight of roasted meat hanging in restaurants window gives me comfort. It's just so home. I suppose it's like the Americans seeing The Golden Arches in the middle of Mongolia.

In HK, roasted geese and suckling pigs are top items in roasted meat restaurants. And no wonder, because these are absolutely totally delectable. I'm not so partial to suckling pig--images of squealing piglets torn from their frantic mother prevents me--but I love roasted goose. I used to think that maybe I love roasted goose more than roasted duck because I can't find goose here, where I live, but after my recent trip to HK, I realise it's because goose just tastes superior to duck. This fact became obvious to me when I attended a full-month banquet dinner two weeks ago where everybody at my table had second, third helpings of roasted duck whereas I struggled to eat the tough, dry, tasteless piece of duck someone had eagerly served me. While my Hub said he couldn't tell between duck and goose (which disappointed me. He said he can't tell between turkey and chicken too), I can. Goose is clearly the better 'quack', its meat being more tender, moist and flavorful in a much more pleasant way than duck. Agree?

It seems like each time I go to HK, I give cha siu (pork shoulder marinaded in soy sauce and sugar and roasted) a miss because the roasted pork we get in KK is quite good and I don't want to waste my stomach space on something I can get at home. Another reason is I avoid food with artificial coloring, and cha siu normally comes stained in red. I do bother to eat HK's crispy roasted pork belly, because HK crispy pork belly is excellent.

A post about roasted meat is not complete without a mention of the most famous roasted meat restaurant in HK, Yung Kee Restaurant (see Droolteam's review). I may have eaten Yung Kee's roasted goose before, years ago, I can't quite remember. Nearly everybody I've asked tells me that sure, Yung Kee's roasted meat is good, but they also tell me Yung Kee is not better than the other good but lesser known roasted meat restaurants. A taxi driver summed it up this way: if there are enough of you to fill a table, and you don't mind paying the price (RM300+/US$90+ per goose. Or is it half a goose?), go ahead and try Yung Kee just once. But if there's just two of you and you can't eat a whole goose, Yung Kee will give you cut portions and that's a no-no; he said HKgers won't eat cut portions, which he had a term for. So, given that advice, there's no point paying for something you can find in other shops for much less. Yung Kee seems like one of those over-rated restaurants for tourists.(Note: HKgers unanimously told me that the best roasted goose is in Sham Tseng "Deep Well" out in the New Territories. For the best roasted pigeons, head out to Shatin.)

Roasted meat lunches are the Chinese equivalent of fast food in the sense that the meat is already cooked and they only have to chop it and bring it to your table, which in HK is almost as soon as you've given your orders. For an economical lunch, order your roasted meat combination on rice rather than have rice and meat served separately; it's much cheaper this way.


Now that I've told you, don't forget to eat roasted meat the next time you are in HK. It's No. 2 on my list, that's how great it is. Don't think that since you get roasted meat where you live you don't need to try it. Somehow those HK chefs just do it perfect. I have a feeling that the secret is not just in the recipe, but also in the way the animals are reared (we know that for example, pork in most western countries is only good if it is from Asian grocers; something to do with the feed and sex -male or female-of the pig?), that makes HK's roasted meat the best in the world.


Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

yum yum yum !
sweet note for u.
I miss your cooking,baking posts.
Like how the desert miss the rain.


Hey there! Come and join us for a BBQ buffet at the beach in Penang this Christmas with watersports activities included! Sign up now! Check out my website at www.runwiththewave.com Thanks!

Precious Pea said...

Do you notice how yellow their chooks are? And the skin is so chewy and nice, unlike our soft jelak version here.

Actually i find Cafe De Coral, their fastfood char chan teng serves very decent roasted meat at very very reasonable price. Usually we go there for lunch at the airport after checking in!

TeaLady said...

The original healthy diet. Roasted. How can you go wrong with that? I MISS YOUR BAKING POSTS TOO.

Shalini Nathan said...

I can't stop drooling. All that roasted meat!!

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

denise: haha, i'm too lazy to cook n take photos..blogging about travel is so much easier...but hang in there, i'm almost done with my hk posts :0

run: noted

pp: yes, my friend A said cafe de coral does a good noodle dish but i can't rmber what. airport prices so expensive!

tealady: am taking a lonnngg break. ok, i hear ur complaints :)

shalini: me too, wish i could have a goose drumstick now.

Agnes aka Ric3y said...

Ouh all the roasted meats are gorgeous!! Even the normal steamed chicken looks wayyyy better than in KK.

Wonder if you have eaten the only shop selling roasted meat at the basement of CentrePoint. Its so expensive and not worth it ;(

Johnathan said...

Roast poultry/pork and Hong Kong is synonymous. The name Hong Kong or fragrant harbour according to a source is as such.

In the old days, mainland chinese from Guang dong would travel out to seek opportunities for a better life. Amongst them was this ah pak called Cheh sook (Uncle car). He set out on a sampan from guang dong intending to head to wherever that the current brings him to.

After sailing for 5 days, Cheh Sook notice that there is an island in sight. As the sampan sails nearer to the island, he is greeted by a pleasant fragrance, which wetted his appetite as he has not been eating for 2 full days since his rations ran out.

Nearer and nearer the sampan approached the island and the smell is overwhelming! Upon reaching the harbour on the island, he was greeted with all sorts of roasted delicacies i.e. roast pigeons, goose, duck, chicken, pork, you name it!

He digs in on the food and fill up his tummy to the capacity. Of course, he has no money and was beaten up and sent packing to wherever he came from. When he is back in Guang Dong, not wanting to lose face, he only mention to his friend that the place he went to as fragrant harbour... of course, only he knows that it is because the smell of the roasted food is very "Heong". Thus, from then on, everyone called that place "Heong Kong"!

Heheheh ... just a fictitious story of the origin of Hong Kong :p Enjoy

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

agnes: is it a corner shop tt's always busy n full? i have tried it b4 but can't quite rmber if it was good:)

johnathan: did u just make tt up?? hk does mean fragrant harbor but i didn't know tt it was for the fragrance of roasted meat. wow.now i know. u better not be pulling my leg.

Johnathan said...

Hahahah Terri! It is a joke! :p Now that I've pull your leg, what's gonna happen to me? Hehehee... Anyway, notice the disclaimer at the end of my comment? : )

sheryl0202 said...

Hello!I was researching for my HK trip and came across your blog. Your blog has nice pictures of the food you have eaten and some with good directions to the restaurants! Thanks very much. Keep writing.

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