Signature dish

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 July, 2011, 12:00am

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I really pigged out last week - literally - and I wasn't alone.

A group of 16 foodies gathered for a leaving party for Peter, a friend and core member of the food crowd I often dine with - who was moving back to Taiwan.

As he was the one who introduced many of us to the suckling pig at the Kimberley Chinese Restaurant at the Kimberley Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, it seemed only right that we would go there for his last dinner before his flight the next day.

I've eaten many Kimberley suckling pigs since my first one more than two years ago, and like Peter, have tried to spread its fame by bringing friends to try it (it needs to be ordered at least a day in advance, and a HK$500 deposit paid).

Of all the roast pigs I've eaten in Hong Kong, it's my favourite, although it's different from others.

It has everything you should expect in a good suckling pig - crisp skin with a thin layer of fat and tender meat.

But what makes this one extra special is that all the bones have been removed, and the cavity is filled with well-seasoned glutinous rice before the 30 day-old animal is roasted.

The little piglet - now looking uncomfortably like a dachshund - is placed on a platter, covered with a heavy gold cloche and wheeled on a cart to the table, where it's ceremoniously unveiled.

The waitress, wielding a large cleaver, is able to cut straight down through the body so the pig is in neat, round slices.

OK, so ordering a suckling pig to celebrate a big dinner is nothing new, but we didn't stop at one: we had four of them.

For this occasion, we wanted something extraordinarily indulgent, so we wouldn't have to be polite and reject a second (or third) slice so that someone else at the table could eat it.

We wanted as much pig as we could eat and more (a leftover slice - pan-fried so the rice was crusty - made a wonderful lunch the following day).

The restaurant staff are normally quite stingy with these pigs, and don't usually allow more than one per table, but the friend who booked it was so insistent that they eventually acquiesced.

Although we were sad that Peter was leaving (even though he's only an hour away by plane, and has promised to come back often), it was a fun, happy dinner.

We were laughing at our own ridiculousness - even we realised that four pigs was excessive.

The only other dishes we ordered were beef bone and white radish soup, fried fish skins and dessert.

We asked that the pigs be served one-by-one, and we were excited each time the waitress wheeled the next one into the room.

Peter brought a magnum of the Joseph Phelps Insignia 1997, which went beautifully with the pig.

And while we ate - and ate, and ate - the group of us reminisced about the meals we'd shared over the years, and made plans to eat many more, in whatever city we all happened to meet in next.