When you see restaurant posters advertising a Cantonese or Hong Kong-style ‘barbecue’, you should know that this is a rough translation of siu mei, not referring to the American tradition of smoking meats on. wood but rather to roast them; the characters literally mean “roasted flavor”.
Granted, you won’t see many signs of this type in the Denver area, as only a few restaurants here specialize in this style of cuisine. But HuaKee BBQ, run by a family from China’s Guangdong Province, has been doing admirably in Westminster since September 2019.
It’s a true mom-and-pop operation: located in a mall dominated by H-Mart, the space is too small for anything you might call the vibe, amounting to around four or five tables laid out. around a counter where whole ducks and slabs of sparkling ribs in a case next to simmering steamer platters with chicken feet, fried tofu and more. But it does radiate heat nonetheless, thanks to the nice people behind, namely Hong Wu, who prepares the orders in advance, and her husband GuoHua, who cooks in the back, as well as their two children, who help out. the weekend.
Their daughter Yuki is so helpful, in fact, that she kindly agreed to act as an interpreter between her parents and me. As she explained to me, “My dad has been in the restaurant business since he was a young adult. Over the past 30 years, he has held countless positions in different restaurants, helping relatives and family friends with their business before deciding to start his own business. Over the years, my father has accumulated experience in preparing various styles of regional Chinese cuisine. In his free time, he enjoys experimenting with different spices and ingredients to find unique tastes for his specialties. I think [he] takes great pride in making all of the different meats as delicious as possible. Roast duck and roast pork are definitely the two dishes that take a long time to prepare.
Served over rice with a little broccoli and bok choy as part of a combination meal, the crisp, juicy skin results are indeed a delicious place to start, but branching from nose to tail is best. way to go – pillow-braised pork belly and crispy ear slices; tangy chicken wings drenched in soy sauce; duck chins that each yield only a few precious pieces of deeply flavorful meat. The aforementioned black bean chicken feet, beef tendon and tripe, and what is frankly listed on the menu as “pork tripe” are yet other options; for Americans skeptical of such things, Yuki has some wisdom for the ages to convey.
“We realize that some menu items may be new to some of our customers and may seem intimidating at first,” she acknowledged. “While working at the restaurant one weekend, I met a client who enjoys traveling and trying new dishes from different cultures. He told me his philosophy is to always try new cuisines twice before deciding if he favors them or not, which I thought was really valuable advice. I think it’s important to always keep an open mind and heart when trying new foods from different cultures! “
That said, the Wus also offer a lot of solace to newcomers in the form of fried rice and noodles as well as wonderful zong zi, or packets of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves and sprinkled with various toppings: mung beans, for example. , or peanuts and egg yolk. According to Yuki, “They’ve become a favorite of our customers,” so you might consider calling ahead to reserve some with the rest of your order, “because they sell out pretty quickly! »Then take your order to a nearby park or on the terrace of a brasserie and feast with friends in the sun: ribs, bacon, wings and all the toppings make a picnic as American as any other, after all.
Huakee BBQ is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 5072 West 92nd Avenue, Westminster; order online in advance here