Cantonese pub

Four of the best places in Hong Kong for char siu

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char siuor Chinese barbecue pork, is a traditional dish from the Canton region that has made its way onto the menus of most restaurants in Hong Kong.

The meat was a working-class favorite in the 1950s and 1960s, served with a bowl of steamed rice and a fried egg. Today, it remains a staple for many blue-collar and white-collar workers.

The humble char siu is also the most versatile of the Cantonese roast meats (or siu mei), which include roast goose, roast duck, and chicken in soy sauce. Sweet glazed meat is often served with rice or noodles, or shaped into barbecue pork bao — a fluffy cloud-shaped bun that explodes with a minced meat filling char siu mixed with a honey sauce. Falls of char siu are also sometimes tossed into fried rice, bringing an extra dash of caramel to the classic stir-fry, or added to baked pastries. When I was growing up in Hong Kong, char siu was an essential dish to complement the dim sum of our weekly Sunday family yum cha.

Ingredients for Char siu marinade at Michelin-starred Ming Court

char siu means “fork roast” and refers to the fork-shaped skewers on which marinated meat is suspended while cooking in a barrel-shaped oven. Typically, chefs use mui-tau, or pork neck, which remains juicy and tender thanks to its optimal meat/fat ratio. Roasters looking for something a little more fatty prefer pork belly.

The dish couldn’t be roasted without a good marinade, and while the process may seem simple, the exact proportions of the secret sauce are what give each dish its unique taste. char siu. A typical marinade is made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, brown sugar, and spices such as star anise, fennel seeds, Chinese cinnamon, and cloves. Finally, the boneless meat should be basted and glazed to achieve its mahogany sheen before serving.

This beloved comfort food can be found almost everywhere in Hong Kong, from fast-food restaurants to Michelin-starred restaurants – and each place offers its own charbaste, marinade, fat and meat.

Heritage House

5/F Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

  • Good for: Food with an amazing view of the horizon

  • Not so good for: Vibe is semi-casual, while prices are on the high end

  • FOR YOUR INFORMATION: The Kowloon Harbor Promenade is a great after-dinner stroll

  • Website; directions

Executive Chef Li Chi-wai of The Legacy House

Executive Chef Li Chi-wai of The Legacy House

Seats in The Legacy House, above which hang round glass shades, with a view of Hong Kong through the window beyond

The views of The Legacy House area as well as the food

Cool and contemporary, The Legacy House celebrates Cantonese cuisine, especially from the South Shunde region, widely regarded as the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine. The restaurant, located in the Rosewood Hotel, is a tribute to Rosewood CEO Sonia Cheng’s grandfather, the late Cheng Yu-tung, patriarch of one of Hong Kong’s wealthiest clans.

While the seven private dining rooms offer a dose of exclusivity, the main dining room has a more semi-formal feel. Wherever you choose to dine, the service is impeccable and the staff are knowledgeable and helpful.

The meat that was hung after being roasted

Meat hangs after being roasted

A char siu dish from The Legacy House

A char siu dish from The Legacy House

Signature char siu, roasted twice a day just before lunch and dinner services, is made from Iberian pork shoulder, selected by Executive Chef Li Chi-wai because, according to him, it offers a perfectly balanced fat-to-meat ratio. . The char siu, cut into 1-inch thick, succulent slices, retains its juices and flavor under its rich honey glaze. The restaurant is also proud of char siu adapted to the tastes of its customers, offering fattier or leaner versions made from cuts of local black pigs.

To complete your char siu experience, order dim sum. The real highlights were the steamed spotted grouper dumpling with candied lemon and the truffle spring roll.

Ming Court

Level 6, 555 Shanghai Street Cordis, Mong Kok, Hong Kong

  • Good for: A large group meal. Chinese cuisine is synonymous with sharing

  • Not so good for: Without an appointment. Reserve in advance

  • FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Ming Court has an exceptional wine cellar and offers seasonal wine pairing dinners

  • Website; directions

Pork roasted in barrel-shaped ovens at Ming Court

Pork roasted in barrel-shaped ovens at Ming Court

A siu tank plate at Ming Court

Ming Court’s char siu is “beautifully plump and fat.” . . sweet and tender

Within the Cordis Hotel, the Michelin-starred Ming Court offers a wonderful dining experience with its Cantonese culinary delights. Entering the restaurant, one feels a world away from the crowds in the bustling Mong Kok area.

Barbecued pork is the establishment’s signature dish and is roasted twice a day. The char siu is glazed in a thick, sticky maltose syrup that highlights the crisp charred surface. The restaurant emphasizes the use of local organic produce, from the pork neck cut to the marinade ingredients. Ming Court char siu is beautifully meaty and fatty, and every bite was soft and tender, with a hint of flavor.

The craftsman behind the restaurant’s extensive menu is Executive Chef Li Yuet-faat, whose dedication to fine Cantonese cuisine and attention to detail has helped Ming Court maintain its Michelin-star status for more than a decade. It was also one of the first establishments in Hong Kong to pair old world wines with Cantonese cuisine.

Word 32

Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4A Des Voeux Road Central, Central, Hong Kong

  • Good for: Accompany your meal with unique and delicious cocktails with a local touch

  • Not so good for: Your wallet – it’s more expensive

  • FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Head to the nearby Sevva rooftop bar for a nightcap and a breathtaking view

  • Website; directions

    Meat being prepared at Mott 32

Mott 32’s kitchen roasts limited cuts of char siu daily

Executive Chef Lee Man-sing of Mott 32

Executive Chef Lee Man-sing of Mott 32

In the basement of Standard Chartered, Mott 32 (a former warehouse for a wealthy Chinese family) is an establishment that celebrates the city’s east-west identity. Despite the spectacular interior and open space, the dining experience was intimate with outstanding attentive service. While Cantonese cuisine is at the heart of the restaurant, the menu also features dishes from other parts of China.

    The interior of the Mott 32, with its green leather seats and its birds and flowers painted on the wall

Mott 32 is in the basement of the Standard Chartered building

A plate of char siu and a Mott 32 cocktail

Pair your char siu with one of Mott 32’s cocktails with a local twist

His char siu, which uses a pluma cut of Iberian pork, was remarkable and perfectly balanced. The meat was tender, cut into relatively thicker slices and finished with a Yellow Mountain honey glaze which gave an extra touch of sweetness. The kitchen roasts limited cuts of char siu daily, so call ahead and reserve a dish when you reserve your spot.

Soft quail egg siu may with Iberian pork and black truffle and the hot and sour Shanghainese dumplings were also spectacular in taste and presentation. The exceptional service and knowledge of the dishes by the staff was impressive.

Sun Kwai Heung

Shop 17, G/F, Goldmine Building Block A, 345 Chai Wan Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong

  • Good for: A trip outside the city center

  • Not so good for: Large seats. There are only a few small folding tables for those dining in.

  • FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Order takeout food and head to the nearby Breakwater to enjoy your char siu right by the sea

  • directions

Staff preparing hanging meat at Sun Kwai Heung
Some of Hong Kong’s top chefs consider modest Sun Kwai Heung one of the best char siu spots in town

This unassuming hole-in-the-wall has been rated by guests and some of Hong Kong’s top chefs as one of the best char siu seals in town. It’s a bit out of town (the trip takes 30 minutes by public transport), but the neighborhood is buzzing.

Sun Kwai Heung has been around for over 40 years and exclusively sells local roast meat. The leaders do char siu four times a day at 9.30am, 12.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm, and you’ll often find a long line of people eagerly waiting for the freshest batch. Even Hong Kong’s high society makes the trip here for a char siu to fix.

Suckling pig and roast goose are also on the menu at Sun Kwai Heung

Suckling pig and roast goose are also on the menu at Sun Kwai Heung

A plate of char siu at Sun Kwai Heung

Char siu comes out of the oven four times a day in Sun Kwai Heung

The restaurant has very limited seating so most people tend to order their food to take away. The char siu is made with the fresh cuts of traditional pork neck and pork belly, which will melt in your mouth with their higher fat content. While the slices are relatively thinner, the meat is bursting with juices and its flavor is balanced by a nice crispy char. The maltose gives the meat a beautiful marbled hue of rosewood. I recommend ordering a plate of char siu and also try the roast goose and suckling pig.

Do you have a secret spot in Hong Kong for the siu tank? Tell us in the comments

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