It is impossible to miss the cuisine of Chinese Barbecue 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 siu mei 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.
Get your Chinese barbecue expedition off on the right track with these recommendations:
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.
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.
Seasoned goose, roasted in a charcoal oven until the meat is tender and the skin crispy, then sliced and served with plum sauce. Roast goose prepared in travel-safe packaging, known as ‘airplane roast goose’, is a popular souvenir.