Roasted Pork Belly, Crispy Roast Duck, BBQ Pork - A Hong Kong BBQ Journey. [BONUS: Amazing Crackling Roasted Suckling Pig!] - Ruby BBQ, Ho Kee, Hop Woo, Sam Woo, New Duong Son BBQ, Lien Hoa BBQ, Noodle Boy, Monterey Palace [Thoughts + Pics]


#1

After the stunning, revelatory Hong Kong BBQ we had at Ming Kee, and the nostalgic revisit to Sam Woo BBQ in Focus Plaza, we suddenly had an urge to go on a Hong Kong BBQ Journey, to see what might be left of this cuisine in Southern California (especially since as @beefnoguy and a few friends of ours from Hong Kong all said that Hong Kong BBQ is dying. It’s not trendy or popular, the younger generation isn’t eating this stuff any more). We wanted to see if there were still delicious places locally making HK BBQ.

First stop, the closest and only place on the Westside that we remembered serving HK BBQ:

Hop Woo

Hop Woo has recently been getting buzz on FTC for adding a new Szechuan menu. However, we were here to see how their original menu of Hong Kong / Cantonese classics were.

Roast Duck:

Hop Woo’s Roast Duck arrives strangely drowned in their Duck Jus. It tasted fresh (cooked that day), the meat was relatively tender and not overly salty. However its Achilles Heel was the soggy Duck Skin. :cry: But when compared to the Roast Duck we had at Sam Woo BBQ in Focus Plaza, it was pretty close and we’d agree with @J_L that there’s no reason to drive across town to Sam Woo if you had this. :slight_smile:

Wonton Noodle Soup:

Their Wonton Noodle Soup unfortunately doesn’t compare to Sam Woo’s (and Sam Woo isn’t that good). These tasted frozen and very clumpy / dense. :frowning:

Crispy Pepper Salted Pork Chops:

The Pork Chops themselves were nicely fried and crispy, however it lacked the wok-fried Green Onions & Chilies / Garlic that many other places mix with their Salt & Pepper Pork Chops. But otherwise, this was pretty comparable to the dish we had at Sam Woo earlier this year.

4th attempt at a 2nd visit:

Parking for Hop Woo is awful. :frowning: This was literally our 4th attempt(!) to come back for a 2nd visit. The other 3 times, the tiny parking lot was full, and there is no street parking along Olympic or Sepulveda around there. We drove around the long block and tried to find something on Pontius, and that was packed with commercial vehicles as well. We drove around for 10 min or so each time and gave up. Only on our 4th attempt to come back for another visit did we find a parking space. :cry:

BBQ Pork (Charsiu):

Hop Woo’s other regular HK BBQ offering is their BBQ Pork (Charsiu), balanced with lean and fatty sections, sweet, savory and tender. A decent version of Charsiu.

Crispy Pepper Salted Squid:

Their version of Salt & Pepper Squid is even better than their Salt & Pepper Pork Chops. It’s fried better, lightly crispy and a solid version of this classic. :slight_smile:

Overall for Hong Kong BBQ cuisine, Hop Woo manages to scratch that itch for those of us on the Westside that don’t feel like braving the 10 Freeway during rush hour to get to the San Gabriel Valley.

Hop Woo
11110 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: [(310) 575-3668

Ho Kee Cafe

Thanks to the recommendation from @PorkyBelly, we decided to give Ho Kee Cafe a try.

Roasted Duck:

When the Roast Duck arrived the skin looked strangely puffy and wrinkled; the reason would soon be apparent. When we took a bite, everyone at the table could tell what it was: It was microwaved. :frowning:

The interior Duck Bones were searing hot in sections. Some of the meat was cool, some of the meat was very hot. The Duck Skin was soft and chewy. :cry: Besides that, the actual Duck tasted fresh and had good flavor.

Perhaps the staff saw a bunch of non-locals and felt that we wanted our food piping hot? Or was this standard practice?

Wonton Noodle Soup:

Their Wonton Noodle Soup was much better. It’s immediately apparent they are plumper and fresher than Hop Woo’s frozen version. These were tasty, with plenty of Shrimp inside. The Wonton Soup Broth was a touch salty, but otherwise fairly solid. The Egg Noodles were nicely cooked al dente.

BBQ Pork (Charsiu):

Their Charsiu is leaner than Hop Woo’s version. It, too, unfortunately was served microwaved. Piping hot in sections, lukewarm in others, unevenly heated like the best microwaved dishes. Otherwise the actual flavor was good, lightly sweet and salty.

Normally this would be a disaster, but we wanted to give them another shot. On a 2nd visit, we made sure to invite one of our Hong Kong friends to join us.

Roast Meat Plate (2 Items) - Roast Duck + Soy Sauce Chicken:

This time we had our HK friend speak to the waitress in Cantonese, and we asked them to explicitly serve us the Roast Duck and Soy Sauce Chicken as is (do not heat it up).

Looking at the picture you can see it looked totally different and it tasted much better. It was served slightly warm (which is normal, hanging in the BBQ rack). There was no microwave involved this time and the Roast Duck tasted fresh, tender, and had a balanced savory flavor. :slight_smile:

The Duck Skin wasn’t crisp though, but that’s the same as Sam Woo and Hop Woo at this point.

Soy Sauce Chicken:

Their Soy Sauce Chicken tasted a bit old (like it was leftovers from the previous day). :frowning: The Chicken meat was tender, though.

Seasonal Vegetables - Choy Sum with Garlic:

Their Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables (Choy Sum) with Garlic was nicely sauteed and tender, with a good Garlic flavor coming through.

Squid with Salt and Pepper:

Fragrant with a slight crispiness on the outside, the Squid was nicely cooked. :slight_smile: We loved the Fried Garlic and Chilies with the dish. It was just a touch too salty, however.

Ho Kee Cafe seems to be a solid neighborhood HK eatery. Their HK BBQ was solid if you’re able to speak Chinese and ask them to not microwave the dishes. Their Wonton Noodle Soup was respectable and the best version we had so far on this journey.

Ho Kee Cafe
533 S. Del Mar Ave.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 766-1076

New Duong Son BBQ

We headed south towards another culinary treasure in Little Saigon. New Duong Son BBQ is a tiny shop that is Take Out Only, serving a Vietnamese take on Hong Kong BBQ(?). A huge thanks to @Dommy @bulavinaka @PorkyBelly @Ns1 for the recommendation.

Crispy Skin Roast Pig:

While the presentation is a bit messy, the actual Roast Pork is true to its menu name: There is a satisfying crunch to each bite of the Crispy Skin Roast Pork. :blush: The Pork tastes very fresh as well.

If there’s a nitpick it’s that the Roast Pork meat itself (non-skin) was a bit meatier and chewier than what we’d prefer. But otherwise this was very good! :slight_smile:

Crispy Skin Roast Duck:

Unfortunately, their Crispy Skin Roast Duck doesn’t match its menu name: The Roast Duck has a good balanced savoriness, permeating to the bone, but the Duck Skin is soft and flabby. :frowning: But to be fair, every Hong Kong BBQ specialist on this journey so far has failed in this area.

At this point we were all wondering, “Is a proper Hong Kong Roast Duck actually supposed to have crisped skin?” (@ipsedixit @chandavkl @beefnoguy & others.)

Ultimately New Duong Son BBQ is a great place to stop by for excellent crunchy Roast Pork, which tasted pretty much like the Hong Kong version. The Roast Duck is good, but lacks the crispy skin that would elevate this to greatness. But otherwise, both of these offerings were fresh, delicious and we’d be glad to go back if we’re in the area.

(Cash Only)

New Duong Son BBQ
9211 Bolsa Ave. # 115
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 901-1600

Lien Hoa BBQ

A block away, Lien Hoa BBQ is according to @Ns1 one of the original places for a Vietnamese take on HK BBQ. The first thing we noticed was the shocking red color of its Roast Duck hanging in the case. It had the same bright crimson color that Charsiu has.

Roast Duck (Vit Quay) + Roast Pork Rib Belly (Ba Roi):

The Roast Duck was OK. It tasted fresh, but was too sweet, and the Duck Skin was flabby.

The Roast Pork Rib Belly (Ba Roi) looked great, with the Pork Skin gleaming. However, it was chewy. :frowning: There was no crispness or crunchiness in this Roast Pork Skin.

Lien Hoa BBQ was clean, bright, and had a large walk-in space, but its offerings were rather underwhelming. They weren’t bad, but lacked the flavors and textures to make them rise to the top of this BBQ journey.

(Cash Only)

Lien Hoa BBQ Deli
9311 Bolsa Ave.
Westminster, CA 92683
Tel: (714) 894-1085

Sam Woo BBQ (Las Tunas)

We had visited the Sam Woo BBQ branch in the sprawling Focus Plaza earlier this year, which was the first one we had ever tried years ago, thanks to our old board and Hounds back then.

During this trip, one of our friends from Taipei suggested we give another Sam Woo BBQ branch a try as well, so we picked this one on Las Tunas.

Roast Pork:

This Sam Woo branch’s Roast Pork had slightly crunchy skin, and a more satisfying flavor than the Focus Plaza branch. However, we liked New Duong Son BBQ’s version more (better flavor in the Pork lean meat, and more consistent crunchy skin). Still, not bad.

Roast Duck:

Sam Woo’s Roast Duck looked pretty and delicious, but sadly like every single other BBQ shop on this journey so far: Flabby Duck Skin. :frowning: The Duck meat itself tasted fresh, a bit more taut than other places. It was fine otherwise.

Watercress with Fish Ball in Hot Pot:

We wanted some veggies to break up this meat fest. :sweat_smile: The Fish Meatballs were plump, but a touch salty.

However the Watercress and Broth itself was delicious! :blush: Watercress is one of those underutilized Vegetables that imparts so much natural alluring flavor.

Salt & Pepper Pork Chops:

I know the dish is called “Salt & Pepper Pork Chops” but this was way too salty. :cry: Far saltier than any other version we had recently.

Steamed Meat Patty with Salty Fish:

Our current favorite version of Steamed Ground Pork is at Sea Harbour. Trying Sam Woo’s version helps to highlight just how much better Sea Harbour is. There is a lack of delicacy, a denser, more one note version is what we’re left with here at Sam Woo. The Salted Fish is true to its name: Super salty, but meant to be eaten in small bites with the Steamed Meat Patty.

For the Las Tunas branch of Sam Woo BBQ, the slightly crispier Roast Pork gives it an edge over the Focus Plaza branch, but all of the other dishes felt like they were heavier handed, saltier and just not as well executed.

Sam Woo BBQ (Las Tunas)
937 E Las Tunas Dr. #C
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 286-3118

Noodle Boy

While Noodle Boy doesn’t offer any Hong Kong BBQ, it does offer one of the staples found at those HK / Cantonese places: Wonton Noodle Soup. Thanks to @Sgee for the hearty recommendation, we knew we had to fit it in on this HK Journey. :slight_smile:

Looking at the menu, they seriously specialize in only 2 items: Noodle Soup and Lo Mein! :open_mouth: You just choose variations on the toppings. We couldn’t wait.

Wonton Noodle Soup + Cuttlefish Balls:

When this arrived, you could detect a certain level of quality without even taking a bite: The Housemade Wontons are huge and plump. Taking a bite, they are easily the best Wontons we’ve had for any of the Wonton Noodle Soups on this journey.

WOW. :heart:

The Cuttlefish Balls are a bit more chewy and rubbery, but still fine.

The Egg Noodles and Wonton Soup combination is very good! A nice chew and bite to the Egg Noodles, and the Wonton Soup is light and delicate (not overly salty). Just a great bowl of goodness! :blush:

They were sold out of their Handmade Fish Ball + Wonton Noodle Soup, so we had to go back for another visit the following weekend.

2nd Visit:

Wonton Noodle Soup + Fish Balls:

Their Handmade Fish Balls were tender and fluffy. We were expecting them to be more like Meatballs, but they were almost like Quenelles. They were tasty and we liked them more than the Cuttlefish Balls. :slight_smile:

Wonton Noodle Soup:

Seriously these Wontons put all of the other Wontons we’ve tried on this journey to shame! Plump, juicy, filled with Shrimp (no filler), with a nice balance of seasoning. Delicious. :slight_smile:

Noodle Boy was an eye-opener. I can’t believe we missed out on this place for so long. We kept thinking it must be some terrible derivative of the “Noodle Planet, World, Universe, Galaxy” pantheon of mediocrity, but instead it’s just this crazy Wonton Noodle Soup specialist. :slight_smile:

Noodle Boy
8518 Valley Blvd., Suite 108
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 280-8963

Ruby BBQ

OK, first off, in another case of “Who in the world did the translations for this?”, here we have Ruby BBQ. Which sounds… OK in English, until our Hong Kong friend casually mentioned, “Ooh! Kowloon BBQ… which literally means ‘Nine Dragons.’”

NINE DRAGONS! :open_mouth:

And we get “Ruby BBQ” in English. :expressionless: Not as bad as the ubiquitous disaster of “[Insert Protein] in Brown Sauce” but almost as bad. We clearly need @ipsedixit @chandavkl @JeetKuneBao @J_L and other experts to offer their services to prevent tragedies like this from happening in the future. :wink:

Walking in, it’s a tiny mom & pop shop with only a few tables. No music, no frills, just the quiet sound of a heavy cleaver chopping their Roast Pork Belly and Roast Duck.

Roast Pork Belly:

:open_mouth:

Just look at the pics (above). After trying out so many different versions, just visually it was immediately apparent something special had arrived at the table.

Picking up piece…

[Crunch] [Crunch] [Crunch] giving way to moist, tender fatty and lean Roast Pork. Not too salty, perfectly cooked. This was SO GOOD! :heart:

This was easily the best Roast Pork Belly on our HK BBQ Journey! :blush: Everyone in our group agreed it wasn’t even close. This was just a joy. :slight_smile:

Pork Chop in Spicy Salt:

Their Pork Chop in Spicy Salt was very good as well! :slight_smile: Great frying, moist, meaty Pork Chop inside with a great infusion of Fried Green Onions, Garlic and Chilies on top.

Roast Duck:

Ruby BBQ’s Roast Duck arrives a beautiful color. With the Roast Pork Belly turning out as great as it did, we couldn’t wait for this.

Taking a bite, there’s a subtle crispness in the Duck Skin giving way to fresh, moist, flavorful Roasted Duck meat! Finally! :heart:

Ruby BBQ was the only HK BBQ specialist on this journey that had some semblance of crisped Duck Skin. It wasn’t as pronounced as Peking Duck, but there was some crispness, and that made all the difference (compared to all of the other HK Roast Duck we tried).

But we had to make sure.

2nd Visit:

Salted Fish with Chicken Fried Rice:

Their Salted Fish with Chicken Fried Rice is a decent version. The flavors are good with the Salted Fish, Chicken and Green Onions, however, the Fried Rice itself lacks the Breath of the Wok that makes a good Fried Rice great (as in Dragon Beaux’s fantastic versions).

Roast Duck:

Just look at the sheen and color on that Roast Duck! :blush: For this 2nd visit, the Roast Duck Skin was as subtly crisp as the first visit. It’s not as pronounced as we would’ve loved, but far better than every other place we tried. The Duck meat was as moist and tender as before! :heart:

Vegetable with Garlic:

Salted Egg with Pork Cake:

The Marinated Ground Pork had a good meaty, porky flavor, the Salted Duck Eggs gave this a nice counterpoint - earthy, almost pungent - and each bite went so well with some Steamed Rice. :blush: We liked Sea Harbour’s version better, but this was respectable.

3rd Visit:

I wanted to really make sure that Ruby BBQ was as consistent and great as the first 2 visits, so off we went the next weekend. :slight_smile:

Roast Pork Belly:

This 3rd time was as sublime as before. A real satisfying crunch for the Roasted Pork Belly skin, giving way to bits of lean and fatty Pork underneath. This was so, so good! :heart: (OK, @PorkyBelly @J_L @ipsedixit @beefnoguy @bulavinaka and others), don’t miss out on this! :blush:

Sauteed Squid with Spicy Salt:

Their Squid with Spicy Salt is even better than their Pork Chops with Spicy Salt: Lightly briny, tender with a slight chew and a blast of Fried Green Onions, Garlic and Chilies. :blush:

Baychoy with Garlic:

Listed as “Baychoy,” this is an excellent dish of Sauteed Bok Choy and Garlic, tender with still enough snap and body to the Bok Choy to make it pleasing.

Roast Duck:

Yet again my mouth is happy with the subtle crispy-crunch of the Roast Duck Skin, the moist, tender Roast Duck meat underneath and a little dab of that Plum Sauce.

Easily the best Hong Kong Roast Duck on this journey! :heart: Don’t miss this either. :slight_smile:

Ruby BBQ is a stunner: A small mom & pop, hole-in-the-wall that is consistently serving some of the best HK Roast Pork Belly and Roast Duck around! A huge thanks to @JeetKuneBao for the recommendation.

(Cash Only)

Ruby BBQ
9561 Garvey Ave., Suite 1
South El Monte, CA 91733
Tel: (626) 279-6854

[Continued in next post below…]


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November 2018 Weekend Rundown
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#2

[Part 2 - Finale] (Sorry it was too long to fit into 1 post.)

Monterey Palace

Monterey Palace is an interesting restaurant in that they serve Hong Kong BBQ from a Take-Out Only side, and they have a full sit down dining room on the other side. It’s nice that you can choose to dine in and order their HK BBQ, which is what we did.

Since this was the last stop on our journey, everyone wanted to also try some of the rest of the Hong Kong / Cantonese menu.

Chrysanthemum Tea:

For Lunch, Monterey Palace serves Dim Sum, and as a result, you can choose what type of Tea you want. Their Chrysanthemum Tea was floral and a nice way to start the meal.

Shiu Mai with Crab Roe:

Their version of Siu Mai Dumplings were fine. Meaty, plump and with a nice balance of Ground Marinated Pork and Shrimp (no filler).

Bitter Melon & Chicken Rice Noodle Roll:

The Rice Noodle Roll was tender, perhaps a bit too soft, with a nice filling of Bitter Melon and tender Chicken.

Roast Pork:

We’ve had Monterey Palace’s Roast Pork before, but it had been a while. There is a real crunch to the Roasted Pork Skin, giving way to fatty and lean striations of meat. It is excellent! :heart:

Shrimp with Basil Dumplings:

Seeing Basil in Dim Sum is rather rare, so we wanted to try this. The Shrimp and Basil Dumpling was good, with a nice chew to the Dumpling skin and a herbal flavor from the Basil. :slight_smile:

Baked BBQ Pork Buns:

We saw these floating around the dining room and remembered @chandavkl @beefnoguy talking about Tim Ho Wan-style BBQ Pork Buns. I wanted to see if this might be an approximation for them. Sadly it is not: No crispy crunchy top, mainly soft, and the filling tastes like standard Charsiu.

Crispy Salted Pig’s Foot, Macau Style:

This was a really interesting dish: Almost like a Salt-Brined, then Fried Pork Trotter, with an awesome Fried Crispy Pork Skin on the outside! :heart: The inside is meaty, firmer than the Roast Pork Belly preparation that you’re used to, but delicious overall.

2nd Visit:

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow):

These sadly were overcooked and soggy, and the skin was broken. :frowning:

Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf:

Thankfully Monterey Palace serves their Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf with the Rice actually steamed in the Lotus Leaf directly, not wax paper like many newer Dim Sum places these days. As a result there is a good flavor imparted in the Sticky Rice. It’s a touch more salty and one note than Sea Harbour’s version.

Crispy Pork Belly:

You can tell that Monterey Palace has an affinity for Roasted Pork because they offer multiple versions of the Hong Kong “Roast Pork.” The previous visit’s Roasted Pork was great with a crunch to the skin. But they also have “Crispy Pork Belly”! :open_mouth:

This is essentially the Pork Belly portion. @PorkyBelly and all, just look at the layers of fat and lean Roasted Pork beneath the wonderfully crunchy Pork Skin. :heart:

This was fantastic! And probably just a notch below Ruby BBQ for its outstanding Roasted Pork Belly. :slight_smile:

Soy Sauce Chicken:

This looked so good! Just like Ming Kee, Monterey Palace offers the choice of a Free Range, leaner Chicken, as well as using an American Chicken (more meat, plumper). We chose American Chicken since @beefnoguy liked this combination at Ming Kee. :slight_smile:

The Soy Sauce flavor was very good, but it didn’t permeate all the way down to the bone. Still it was very juicy, tender and cooked just right. Far better than Sam Woo and other places we tried recently, this might be one of the best versions of Soy Sauce Chicken locally.

It doesn’t dethrone Ming Kee, but this is a solid version until you can get up there.

BBQ Pork Rice Noodle Roll:

Like the Bitter Melon & Chicken, unfortunately the Rice Noodle Roll is overcooked slightly, being too soft.

Roast Duck:

Monterey Palace’s Roast Duck is quite good. It lacks the crispness in the Duck Skin, but it tastes like it was just about there, but fails to deliver that crispness. Otherwise, this is the 2nd Best Roast Duck we tried on this journey, after Ruby BBQ’s outstanding version. :slight_smile:

Chicken Chow Mein:

Their Cantonese-style Chicken Chow Mein has an excellent amount of crispy-crunchiness from the Fried Egg Noodles, topped with Shredded Chicken and Mushrooms. :slight_smile: Very good.

BBQ Pork (Charsiu) + Roast Duck:

Their BBQ Pork is pretty average. While they excel at Roast Pork, their Charsiu tastes pretty much just like Sam Woo’s version.

The Roast Duck on this 2nd visit was better. Still lacking the crisped Duck Skin, it is roasted long enough to give it almost a semblance of that texture and again, fresh and tender.

Beef Tripe:

This had good savory flavor seeping in every bite. The Tripe itself was a bit more firm than we would’ve liked.

Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce:

A good version of Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce, tender, moist and with a stew-like flavor. :slight_smile:

Cruller Rice Noodle Roll:

Their Rice Noodle Roll stuffed with a Fried Cruller gives a crunchy bite mixed with the tender, soft Rice Noodle Roll for a nice textural contrast. It was a tad too oily, however.

So at this point, after multiple visits it felt like our journey was finally over. But as we were walking out, our friend from Hong Kong was chatting about some banquet he had here, and then the fateful words came out…

“Roasted Suckling Pig…” :open_mouth: !!! :open_mouth:

Stop the presses! We immediately turned around and started interrogating our friend, LOL. :wink: It turns out Monterey Palace specializes in Roasted Suckling Pig for dinner!

We couldn’t let this go by. Phone calls were made. Lots of friends were excited by the prospect of trying Hong Kong Style Suckling Pig. We carpooled over from the Westside which made it that much more fun and tolerable. :wink:

4th Visit:

Roasted Suckling Pig / “Roasted Baby Pig” (according to our server):

Imagine a gorgeously roasted exterior, with crispy, CRACKLING Pork Skin, yielding to a lush, tender and moist meaty interior and you might just get a feel for what Monterey Palace’s Roasted Suckling Pig is like.

I would imagine this might very well be something like what Anthony Bourdain gushed over when going bonkers over the Roast Pork he had in the Indonesia episode.

Taking a bite, the crunch and crispiness is unlike anything I’ve ever had before! It is INCREDIBLE! :heart: I wish there was a way to tag ALL of my dear FTC’ers because everyone needs to know about this! :blush:

How good was this? Everyone at the table had a perennial smile on their faces. I think we all inadvertently drooled as we took pictures before diving in! :sweat_smile:

Marvel at how perfectly cooked this Suckling Pig is! The fat is mostly rendered out, leaving this moist, tender meaty Roasted Suckling Pig with the most amazing Crispy Pork Skin and little bit of fat with juicy lean Pork meat! It is PERFECT. :blush:

One of the BEST BITES FOR 2018! :heart: :heart: :heart:

@A5KOBE @PorkyBelly @J_L @bulavinaka @CiaoBob @TheCookie and fellow Roast Pork Lovers don’t miss out! :blush:

Soy Sauce Chicken:

As excellent as the previous visit. Juicy, nice outer Soy Sauce stewed flavor. :slight_smile:

Steamed Live Red-Spotted Grouper Fish - 3 Ways:

Their Hong Kong-style Steamed Fish is served 3 Ways. The first way is Sauteing the Fish Head with Mustard Greens. This was surprisingly delicious with the bitterness and vegetal notes of the Mustard Greens really pairing well with the Red Spotted Grouper.

Red Spotted Grouper Fish Soup:

They make a Fish Soup with another section of the Red Spotted Grouper. This was bursting with a delicious lightly briny flavor.

Steamed Live Red Spotted Grouper:

I love Hong Kong-style Steamed Live Fish. Monterey Palace’s version is perfectly cooked with flaky, delicate textures. The magic Soy Sauce over Rice is still the best! :blush: The preparation is better than the versions we’ve had at Newport Seafood and Boston Lobster (which were the last times we had Steamed Fish in the SGV).

Sauteed Red Flower Clam:

This is something not listed on the menu, which our HK friend said was literally translated as “Red Flower Clam,” and it was something we hadn’t seen or tried before. It had the texture like a cross between Sea Cucumber, Mirugai (Geoduck) and Clams. And it had a great flavor, wok-fired, pliant with a light chew and a touch of good brininess.

The whole Roasted Suckling / Baby Pig was $228 (+ tax & tip) and with 10 people and we couldn’t finish it. So ~$28 / person with leftovers for some of THE most amazing Roasted Suckling Pig is not bad at all. :grin:

Being able to travel and search out some of the remaining standout Hong Kong BBQ specialists in L.A. and O.C. with dear friends, trying out Roast Duck, Roast Pork Belly and BBQ Pork (and other HK / Cantonese dishes) and stumbling upon the most amazing crispy Roasted Suckling Pig I’ve ever had made this one of the most memorable FTC Journeys we’ve ever had.

It is at once a humbling and sad experience to visit places that might not be around in a few years, to try a cuisine that is no longer de riguer with the generation of today and tomorrow. But it was also a joyful experience, trying out some delightful, expertly made versions of Hong Kong Roast Pork Belly, Roast Duck and Wonton Noodle Soup and more. :slight_smile:

  • Our favorite HK BBQ-style Roast Pork Belly: Ruby BBQ
  • Our favorite HK BBQ-style Roast Duck: Ruby BBQ
  • Honorable Mentions for Roast Pork Belly: Monterey Palace and New Duong Son BBQ
  • Legendary Roast Suckling Pig: Monterey Palace :heart:

For BBQ Pork Charsiu, we’ve been too spoiled by Ming Kee BBQ, nothing we tried locally came close to their BBQ Pork Neck Charsiu. The same for Soy Sauce Chicken.

Here’s to many more FTC Journeys with everyone! :slight_smile:

(Note: Roast Suckling (“Baby”) Pig - 24 Hour Advanced Notice.)

Monterey Palace
1001 E. Garvey Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91755
Tel: (626) 571-0888


#3

What an intense review! Well done!


#4

As always awesome review!

In my heart and stomach, Ming Kee in SF is #1.

Side note: Noodle Boy does a Hong Kong style Zha Jiang Mian. @beefnoguy can probably elaborate better.


#5

Great reviews as always @Chowseeker1999!

I was wondering if the suckling pig can be ordered for a family celebration and if it will remain crispy.

I’ll call and try to find out. That would be perfect for a family gathering.


#6

Suckling pig typically shows up in a Chinese banquet at any “dim sum” restaurants so you can order it for any occasion. I think skin is usually crisped up at the end using a blowtorch so it’ll remain crispy for a longgggg time.


#7

You are the only person in the world who, after going deep into a long meatatarian journey, you
go for a cleanse with roasted suckling pig. :wink:

We agree with New Duong Son and Ruby BBQ being the two major players for Hong Kong-style BBQ. While having been to NDS at least half a dozen times, we’ve only been to Ruby twice. We actually preferred NDS. But this is based on take out (NDS still takeout only?), which isn’t optimal for this type of food (we are in the Westside too - long drive time). Timing could be an issue as well. We usually go early(close to opening), as the offerings can go fast. Like any BBQ, once they’re out, they’re out for the day. We’ve gotten shut out before at far less notable places.

The roast suckling pig is a true eye opener. The last time we had this dish was in Malaysia years ago - usually a must for various significant celebrations.

The wonton noodle soup find is a huge deal for my wife. Again - last time we had this - a version where it’s obvious that someone put time and care into it - was in Malaysia.

The old school purveyors of this surprisingly complex and labor intensive dish used to show up in the older established Chinese neighborhoods over there, pushing large carts to a specific location known to all in the 'hood. Lines would form at this designated spot, indicating the anticipation of the specialist’s arrival. The longer the line, the stronger the reputation.

As is common throughout Asia, specialists are the rule. Many gain strong followings because they have a pinpoint focus on crafting just about every aspect of a particular dish as good as they can.

The gentleman who used to come through my wife’s old neighborhood had this reputation. He made everything that went into his wonton noodle soup. He also knew how each “regular” in line preferred their soup (e.g., double wonton, no cuttlefish balls, light on soy, etc.) When my wife and I finally got to the front of the queue, the man remembered my wife after her three year absence. They briefly exchanged pleasantries all the while as he simultaneously preparing her bowl as he recalled her preferences.

Times have changed, OG food purveyors have been pushed into hawker centers, are getting too old for the laborious work, and their kids want nothing to do with carrying the baton. So to find a place here in SoCal that makes a respectable version of a dish like wonton noodles is like taking a time machine trip to another time and place.

Thank you so much for your exhaustive coverage and detailing your finds. Mister Gold can rest assured knowing his protégé will carry the torch here at FTC.


#8

Thanks for another great report @Chowseeker1999, I have ruby bbq bookmarked. How did their roast pork compare to dragon beaux?

If you ever need an extra belly or two let me know, I may know a certain porkybelly who can offer up some belly real estate, pro bono.

and speaking of roast sucking pigs, i saw a recent kevineats post with a suckling pig at longo seafood.


#9

Great post @Chowseeker1999 & glad you enjoyed Noodle Boy! Did you try their excellent chili sauce? I feel the quality has slid a bit since Sergio stopped manning the stoves but still by far my favorite in SGV by a mile.

Need to hit up Ruby and Monterey Palace - never showed up on my radar during my quest for good roasties over the years.

I’ve always been surprised by the dismal quality of roasties in the US. Perhaps @chandavkl, @ipsedixit, @beefnoguy can shed some light?

Intrigued by that red flower clam, visually looks like a hybrid of jellyfish and sea cucumber.

Btw have you been to HK?


#10

Yes please elaborate.


#11

Good lord you really put in your time for these reviews. Hopefully these threads will become reference points for all who seek out this sort of dining in SoCal. Kudos.

Secret Westside parking tip: Think outside the box/mini-mall and try Pontius Ave. (the street parallel to Sepulveda just west of the mini-mall; enter Pontius from Pico): TONS of spots there. Yes, it may look a bit dodgy, but I’ve never had security issues there before. Hell, it’s even good for Sawtelle parking during their peak hours.


#12

Hi @moonboy403,

Thanks! Hope you get to try some of these places soon. :slight_smile:


#13

Hi @JeetKuneBao,

Thanks again for mentioning Ruby BBQ; we love that place! :blush:

Yah, Ming Kee’s BBQ Pork Neck Charsiu is crazy-good, and their Roast Duck and Soy Sauce Chicken is fantastic. I agree. :slight_smile:

However, since Ming Kee didn’t offer any Roast Pork Belly, I’d have to say we’re lucky to have Ruby BBQ and the Roast Suckling Pig (and regular Roast / Crispy Pork Belly) at Monterey Palace. :wink:


#14

Hi @bulavinaka,

Thank you! :slight_smile: If it wasn’t for you, @Dommy @attran99 @PorkyBelly and others recommending it, we would’ve never found New Duong Son, which was great; I wish we had this on the Westside!

And “yes” New Duong Son BBQ is still Take Out Only, unfortunately, so you can’t really enjoy it immediately unless you just eat it leaning against the mini-mall’s walls and scarf it down? :sweat_smile:

Thank you for sharing such a great story about the old school Wonton Noodle Soup purveyor in Asia! Wow that sounds amazing; and sad that these specialists are probably the last we’ll see in their craft if the new generation doesn’t care about continuing their parents’ generations’ work. :frowning:

I hope you get to try Ruby BBQ or Monterey Palace (and Noodle Boy) soon! :slight_smile:


#15

Hi @PorkyBelly,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Dragon Beaux’s Roast Pork Belly was fantastic the first and third times we had it. The 2nd time was good, but not as sublime (and a touch too cool).

Ruby BBQ’s version each time we had it was still crispy-crunchy and I’d say it was close. At least one of the visits to Ruby BBQ, the Roast Pork Belly was better than Dragon Beaux(!). The other times was maybe a touch below or right there. And it’s closer than Dragon Beaux so we can try it more often here! :wink:

But that Roast Suckling Pig! @PorkyBelly you were the first person I thought of when we were all eating that dish. It is SO GOOD! That Crispy Skin! That tender, luscious Roast Pork meat underneath! :blush:


#16

We have tried and enjoyed Ruby. The suckling pig at Monterey Palace is definitely on our list. Son’s B-day is coming up - I think you’ve presented us with a strong candidate!


#17

That’s exactly what I thought, but for my brother’s birthday! A roast piglet is not easy to find on the Westside, especially after Tom Ford’s closed.


#18

Great chow seeking @Chowseeker1999!

I cannot wait to hit up some of these places you’ve written about. Awesome. Thanks.


#19

Wow, thank you @Chowseeker1999, this is amazing sleuthing right here complete with follow up visits to check consistency. Great work.


#20

We can thank the local health departments in the U.S and the FDA.

Traditional Cantonese roast duck begins with a Pekin duck (the typical weapon of choice), then it’s seasoned, and sewn up like a beggars purse and boiled or blanched to manicure the skin, then (and this is where our health dept steps in) it’s hung and sun-dried (or air-dried) for several hours (between 2-5) before being roasted in an oven.

In the US most purveyors of Cantonese roast duck usually brine or use the baking soda trick to get crispy skin (instead of air-drying). And as can be seen from @Chowseeker1999’s well documented travails the results are not always exemplary.