Top five (sorry, make that four) roast goose restaurants in Hong Kong
Hongkongers love goose for its crispy skin and tender, juicy flesh. And everyone has a favourite venue. Here are our top four - now that the best one has closed
Yue Kee Roasted Goose Restaurant
9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng,
tel: 2491 0105
(HK$250 half; HK$500 whole)
Founded in 1958, this restaurant is well known for being one of the few in Hong Kong that has a licence to use charcoal ovens to roast geese. The birds come from Yue Kee's own farm in Qingyuan City, near Guangzhou where they raise black maned geese, which third-generation owner Jason Ng says are meatier and fresher.
The birds are slaughtered across the border and chilled before being transported to Hong Kong. In the summer it takes about 45 minutes to roast the geese, 90 minutes in the winter using charcoal from South Asia. Yue Kee prides itself on the presentation of the dish, making the bird appear much larger and plumper, and Ng adds, more appetising.
Now in his 30s, Ng grew up watching his parents and relatives working in the restaurant. He took over as manager from his aunt about a year ago.
Verdict: we enjoyed the crispness of the skin, as well as the smoky flavour of the meat from the charcoal oven. The goose slices had a conspicuous layer of fat under the skin.
Ho Lee Fook
1-5 Elgin Street, Central
tel: 2810 0860
Taiwanese-born, Canadian-raised chef Jowett Yu has been making waves on the Hong Kong culinary scene with funky restaurant Ho Lee Fook since June. Many rave about his roast wagyu short ribs, but another popular dish is the roast goose.
He says his recipe is an adaptation of the classic Cantonese roast goose. Yu prepares the bird Western-style by marinating it in a wet brine to allow the solution of star anise, ginger, peppercorns, green shallots, cassia buds, cloves and salt permeate the flesh.
It is then glazed with a combination of water, vinegar and maltose sugar and dried overnight. Yu does two roastings, the first for about 30 minutes, after which it's taken out to release the steam and oil. After resting for about half an hour, it goes back in the oven for another 30 minutes. Yu tested the recipe on about 100 ducks, and he serves the goose with a sauce of soya, spices and juices from the bird.
Verdict: we visited Ho Lee Fook in the late afternoon while he was busy prepping for dinner. We've had the dish before and loved it; this time around though the presentation was different with larger chunks, and the meat seemed tougher to chew. But there's no denying the juiciness.
32-40 Wellington Street, Central
tel: 2522 1624
(HK$250 half; HK$500 whole)
The granddaddy of roast goose restaurants, Yung Kee started in 1942 with Kam Shui-fai who set up a dai pai dong on Kwong Yuen West Street. Since then the recipe has hardly changed except for a bit of fine-tuning.
Yung Kee's third-generation financial controller Yvonne Kam Kiu-yan says the goose is sliced differently here, with exactly 72 cuts. The chefs debone some parts of the bird to make it easier to eat.
When we went upstairs to take a look, we could feel the heat and smell the fragrant smoke from the charcoal ovens even before we opened the door to the kitchen.
Yvonne Kam says the experience of the chef comes through in the skill of roasting the birds, as humidity can affect the roasting time. Between 100 and 200 roast goose are sold each day.
The roast goose at Yung Kee has 15-year-old chun pei (dried mandarin peel) in the stuffing, a practice followed for more than 50 years, and the restaurant makes its own, slightly tart plum sauce. A bonus is the soya beans marinated in the sauce that is only served at dinner because it takes several hours to prepare; the geese served at lunch are served with peanuts.
Verdict: the "flying goose" presentation really does make the roast goose look like it may fly off the plate. The skin is not as crispy as at Yue Kee, but has a gorgeous colour, and a hint of charcoal flavour. The meat is tender and juicy, and we couldn't stop eating the beans.
Kam's Roast Goose
Po Wah Commercial Centre, 226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai
tel: 2520 1110
(HK$238 half; HK$468 whole)
This small eatery only opened in July and has quickly built up a loyal following. One of the grandsons of Yung Kee founder, Hardy Kam Shun-yuen opened the restaurant to serve quality roast goose in a casual setting with rice or rice noodles, either thick (lai fun) or thin (mai fun).
The birds are sourced near Dongguan, as Kam believes the weather and climate is better there. The geese are roasted in a gas oven as opposed to traditional charcoal, but the classic flavour for the most part is retained.
Kam admits the skin isn't so crispy, explaining it's more about the meat. The sesame-infused jus is similar to Yung Kee's but the plum sauce here has a fruitier taste. For a small shop, business is brisk, selling almost 100 whole birds a day.
Verdict: the taste is very much like Yung Kee's, as the head chef used to work there. The goose arrives at the table very warm and the meat is very tender. However, the beans aren't as well cooked as at Yung Kee.
Yat Lok Barbecue Restaurant
Block A, Po Wah Building
5 Tai Ming Lane
tel: 2656 4732
(HK$200 half; HK$400 whole)
The interior looks more like an aquarium than a roast meat place. There's a large screen showing clips of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain trying out the roast goose here.
Owner Chu Kin-wah's father opened Yat Lok in Fanling in 1957, moving it to Tai Po in 1976. Chu's brother has opened a branch in Central. Chu does everything himself at the restaurant, which makes for long hours.
Verdict: hands down the overall winner - crisp skin, not too fatty and very flavourful, tender meat, the taste was not gamey and the plum sauce was quite sweet. But wait - we have some bad news for you. Unfortunately this restaurant closed in May 2018.