9.5 | 2 | 1 | 3
- Awesome siu mei (roast meat)
- Can eat a meal for pennies
- Self serve bbq soy sauce (translated – unlimited bbq soy sauce)
- The lines (though it moves very quickly)
- Interior is cramped
- Char Siu (BBQ Pork)
- Three Treasures Rice (三寶飯, saam bou faan) – Roast Pork, Chicken and Duck
- Any meat and rice dish with ginger and scallion oil
TL;DR – This unapologetic institution serves some of the best traditional siu mei (roast meat) in Hong Kong.
Roast pork is quite possibly my favourite Chinese dish, as is my friend’s. So when he visited Hong Kong with me, his one and only request was to take him to the best siu laap poh (roasted meat shop) in Hong Kong because he wanted “next level roast pork”.
So here is where things get tricky. Objectively speaking, the best siu mei (roasted meat) would probably be at the “tablecloth” Chinese restaurants, the ones where Chinese families go for a celebratory meal. Here the ingredients are better quality, the siu mei is arguably made with more care and is cut into perfectly uniform pieces.
So job done right? Unfortunately not.
The problem is these “tablecloth” restaurants lack the history, the craft, the unpretentiousness of a small family run restaurant that has been operating for centuries. But most importantly, their siu mei lacks soul, the reason why we love siu mei. Siu mei is about fast yet delicious meals, it’s about watching glorious meats getting chopped in front of your eyes, and it’s about the holy matrimony of meat, soy, scallion oil and rice. Don’t get me wrong, the siu mei at Mott 32 and Ming Court is delicious, but they’ve forgotten the heart of what makes siu mei so popular.
So here we are, at Joy Hing, the cheapest Michelin-recommended siu mei restaurant in the world, voted the best char siu by OpenRice (Zomato of Hong Kong), and a favourite of the straight-talking TV personality Anthony Bourdain. They also have their own Wiki, so you know they are legit. But in Asia, none of that matters. The only thing that matters is the customers, and based on their all day long lines, this could possibly be the best traditional siu mei restaurant in the world.
Fatty Roast Pork & Char Siu (BBQ Pork) Combination Rice – $27 HKD/$4 AUD (9.5/10)
It ain’t pretty. But for Hong Kong food, the uglier it is, the better it tastes and this was close to the best roast pork and char siu I’ve ever had. And all for only the price of can of coke in Sydney.
Run since the late Qing Dynasty, Joy Hing is famous for their char siu (barbecued pork) which is roasted over a pre-war designed oven that creates a deep barbeque flavour. Chefs still use bare hands to check the oven temperature, because the pre-war oven is not equipped with a thermometer.
I’m usually somewhat impartial towards char siu but damn this nearly stole the show. A beautifully sweet and spicy (as in full of spice, not chilli) marinade with a deep smoky barbeque through the meat. Easily the best char siu I’ve ever had.
But what of the roast pork, the reason we were here in the first place? The pork was amazingly tender and juicy, almost as juicy as the black pigs I had at Narikura. I never thought I’d say this, but it didn’t even need the crackling (though I’m glad it was there). The glass-like crackling looked “wrong” by traditional standards, but it was just as crunchy it should be.
Suckling Pig & Fatty Char Siu (BBQ Pork) Combination Rice – $56 HKD/$8.50 AUD (9/10)
Just when I thought Joy Hing’s char siu couldn’t get any better, it did. The fatty char siu had the same sweet and smoky flavour but was infinitely juicier.
For those who don’t know, the difference between suckling pig and roast pork is that the skin on the suckling pig is crispy as opposed to roast pork which is crunchy. Also, because suckling pig is made from a baby pig, the skin/fat to meat ratio is much more desirable, which is one of the reasons why it is used as a celebratory dish in Chinese tradition.
Traditionally, only the skin and a bit of fat and meat is served from the suckling pig, but Joy Hing’s suckling pig was more akin to roast pork with crispy skin. Naturally, the meat was juicier and more tender but lacked the depth of flavour that comes with roast pork. The suckling pig here is still super cheap for what you get, but I would stick with roast pork
- You can choose how fatty you want your meat. Choose from lean (瘦), medium (半肥瘦) or fatty (肥)
- Add a healthy dollop of ginger and scallion oil (姜蓉) to your rice. The combination of soy and scallion oil is as delicious as it is unhealthy #worthit
- If you’re ordering meat only you can choose what piece you want. If you’re ordering meat with rice, it’s frowned upon to be picky (unless you’ve built rapport with them)
So fellow foodies, what is your favourite siu laap poh?