It's tender, it's rich, it's barbecue-y – of course, it's char siu. This Cantonese dish is a go-to across China and the rest of the world. Our love of it runs deep here in Hong Kong too, and with places like Good BBQ 好燒味, Bao Bei and 燒味之作 Roast Works serving it up, can you blame us?
Strips of beautiful barbecue
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Literally translating as pork (char) and roast (siu), its name hints to the trademark way the meat is prepared – long strips of marinated pork are skewered and roasted. To get that signature barbecue flavour that we all know and love, it's seasoned with a delicious mix of five-spice powder, honey, red fermented bean curd, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce and rice wine.
Crispy on the outside and tender on the in, this fiery red delight hits the spot every time. You'll find it as a main as the star of the show, bundled into a bun – cha siu bao – or plated up with rice or noodles.
A world of flavours
Though we can't pin down who thought up char siu, we're glad they did. Back in ancient times, it would've been made of boar and other hunted animals, hinting that it was just a good way to cook and prepare whatever meat was available. And we're still fans of it today, but you're more likely to find skewers of domesticated pork than wild boar.
You'll also find different versions all over Asia. In Thailand, they pack their char siu pork into a noodle soup. In the Philippines they rustle up asado, which is eaten with other cold cuts. Alongside takes from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, Japan also got in on the fun – their chashu is slow-cooked pork belly, bursting with sweet soy sauce and served on top of pork-bone ramen.
Hong Kong's pork prides
You'll still find char siu on dinner plates across the world, with a host whole of places serving it up here in Hong Kong too. At Roast Works you'll find your classic char siu, served up with fluffy white rice, alongside versions subbing in goose, chicken, pork belly and soy sauce chicken for the traditional pork cut. If you can't choose – and we don't blame you – opt for the combination plates and choose your two favourites.
You'll find your BBQ pork delights paired with anything from poached chicken and roast duck to Hokkaido egg when you order from Good BBQ. We're big fans of that last one – a gooey, soft-boiled egg is placed on top of some prime char siu, with fluffy white rice and firm vegetables.
They go a different way at Bao Bei, tucking their version into a burger. The Char Siu and Egg Rice Burger has your all-important homemade Cantonese BBQ pork but it's shaped into a patty, bundled in with a fried egg, arugula and sweet caramelised onions.
Get your hands on some authentic char siu through Deliveroo, and dive in chopsticks – or fingers – first.