Legit Hong Kong BBQ - The Wonderful Crisped Roast Duck, Soy Sauce Chicken, and Luscious BBQ Pork Neck at Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ [Thoughts + Pics]

Hong Kong-style BBQ / Roasted Meats is something we have plenty of in Los Angeles. So I almost skipped over a small exchange between @beefnoguy and @JeetKuneBao last year when they talked about a place called Ming Kee in the Bay Area. But then reading more carefully, and hearing the magic writeup from @JeetKuneBao and seeing the pics, I knew I had to give it a try at least once. :slight_smile:

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There was definitely a bit of a strange juxtaposition as we were driving over to Ming Kee: Just a couple blocks away we passed by a brand-new, sleek Whole Foods Market, and then a super sterile, “hip,” made for hamsters, soulless-looking corporate Poke eatery. And then we had Ming Kee. :sweat_smile:

While that outside signage looks rather nice and up-to-date, when you walk in, it’s like we were transported to L.A. Chinatown from some crazy early era! Simple chairs and tables, a handwritten menu on the wall, and a warm chatter of Cantonese (I don’t speak Chinese, but we’ve been around enough of our friends from Taiwan and a couple from HK to recognize the difference… I think). :sweat_smile:

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Glancing at the chopping block / prep area, it’s clear what Ming Kee’s specialties are: You see Hong Kong-style Roasted Duck, BBQ Pork (Charsiu), and Soy Sauce Chicken. This was exciting! :slight_smile:

Looking at the menu, and it’s seriously just different combinations of the primary 3-4 Hong Kong BBQ Meats: Roast Duck, Soy Sauce Chicken & Princess Chicken (what is that @beefnoguy?), and BBQ Pork / BBQ Pork Neck.

#5 Soy Sauce Chicken & Roast Duck Over Rice:

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Just look at this Cantonese / Hong Kong Roast Duck skin! :open_mouth: :heart: We took a bite: The Roast Duck skin was still slightly crisped and luscious (we arrived after lunch), and the Duck Meat, flavorful, tender and juicy! SO GOOD! :heart: :blush:

@PorkyBelly @A5KOBE @Ns1 @Dommy don’t miss this!

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Their Soy Sauce Chicken was mainly Chicken Breast (but you can specify), and for the Breast part, the Soy Sauce flavor permeated part of the way through, but it was still very flavorful (compared to Sam Woo). It was tasty. :slight_smile: But a little bit of the Green Onion, Garlic & Ginger mixture with the Steamed Rice… DROOOL. So good! :blush: (Is it sad that this little hole-in-the-wall Hong Kong BBQ joint’s Chicken & Green Onion mixture was better than what we had at David Chang’s Majordomo (at about 20% of the price)?)

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BBQ Pork Neck:

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Look at the glistening, glorious BBQ Pork Neck! :blush:

First off: @ipsedixit @chandavkl @beefnoguy do they serve this BBQ Pork Neck at Hong Kong BBQ places in L.A.? I just asked my friend to send over the latest Sam Woo BBQ menu and it’s not on there (I don’t remember seeing this anywhere, but to be fair I don’t get out to the SGV HK BBQ places very often these days). And also, @ipsedixit @chandavkl why didn’t you tell me about this place?! :cry: :smile:

Secondly, it is DELICIOUS! :heart:

@beefnoguy @JeetKuneBao you were right! This is like the best parts of Hong Kong Charsiu, but more luscious, a little more fatty, but also still with lots of lean meat, and it’s tender, and not flaming, artificially red nor dry! :heart: This was SO GOOD! We devoured this even though we had just finished a bang x bang a few hours earlier with Plow and Tartine Bakery. :sweat_smile:

Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ’s prices are reasonable from $7 - $9.75 depending on the BBQ meat combination you choose. Or you can order Half or Whole Roast Duck & Chicken as well. From the flavorful Soy Sauce Chicken (the dark meat did have this gorgeous Soy Sauce stewed flavor all the way to the bone!), to the wonderful Roast Duck to the amazing BBQ Pork Neck, Ming Kee is just wonderful! We can’t wait to go back.

($15 minimum for Credit Card.)

Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ
1548 Ocean Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94112

Tel: (415) 337-8198

Update 1:

After having been through a variety of mixed offerings in our So Cal Hong Kong BBQ Journey, there was one thing that remained in the back of my mind throughout that food crawl:

“I miss Ming Kee.” :slight_smile:

So we couldn’t finish this wonderful trip without a final stop at Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ before our flight home.

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Walking in, there was a small line of people waiting to order takeout, a reflection of the neighborhood perhaps: Local grandmas speaking Chinese, construction workers on their lunch break, some students, etc.

As we sat down at a table, ready to order (the take-out line is separate), we noticed a microwave being used from time-to-time(!). This was discouraging at first, until we noticed a pattern: The staff only used the microwave for the non-Chinese customers ordering takeout. It was humorous at first, but then we understood: The non-Chinese clientele seemed to be ordering to-go to eat a “hot lunch.” Hong Kong BBQ is made in the morning and ready by the time they open for brunch / lunch. It then sits hanging in the butcher window, ready to chop up and serve. But it’s not piping hot by the time early afternoon rolls around. I’m guessing the non-Chinese customers want hot food, whereas the local Chinese clientele are used to Hong Kong BBQ being potentially warm (not hot).

So as the waitress took our order, we pointed out the microwave and said, “No microwave please.” She nodded and our food arrived pure from the chopping block. :slight_smile: (@Ns1 @JeetKuneBao @Sgee and others.)

#8 Soy Sauce Chicken & Roast Duck Over Rice:

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At about 2:30 p.m., the Roast Duck still had crisped skin, had a beautiful, savory quality and tender meaty, juicy Roast Duck meat within! Delicious :blush:

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The Soy Sauce Chicken is flavorful, and while it would be nice to have more of the Soy Sauce permeate to the bone (it was only partial), it was already much better than every single HK BBQ restaurant we’ve tried in L.A. The Chicken tastes fresh, moist, and with some of that Green Onion & Garlic mixture is already a much better, pseudo “Hainan Chicken” than most of the actual Hainan Chicken places we’ve tried in So Cal. Delicious. :slight_smile:

BBQ Pork Neck (Plate):

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And then this gleaming plate of joy appears: While Ming Kee has regular HK BBQ Pork (Charsiu), it is their HK BBQ Pork Neck (prepared Charsiu style as well) that is a must order.

Lightly sweet, savory, it is tender, moist, and a perfect balance of fat & lean BBQ Pork. Taking a bite, ah! This is what great Hong Kong BBQ must be like. It is INCREDIBLE! :heart:

There is nothing like this in So Cal, cooked to this perfect consistency. It looks like there’s a lot of fat, but eating it… it tastes balanced, and meaty (not “fatty”). We couldn’t stop eating this! SO GOOD! :blush: :heart: (@paranoidgarliclover @Ns1 @A5KOBE @Sgee @PorkyBelly and others.)

Additional Visit:

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Yes, we actually showed up at Ming Kee on the next to the last day (yesterday), and that Duck (even well after lunch) had that slightly crisped skin, that we had a sneaking suspicion it would be great try right when they opened up, so we stopped by (right after B. Patisserie) for a final visit.

New batch of Roasted Ducks just as they opened:

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Princess Yellow Chicken (Half):

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But first, we wanted to try the Princess Yellow Chicken at least once. @beefnoguy @ipsedixit is this boiled? The Princess Yellow Chicken was indeed a leaner, meatier breed, compared to the American Chicken used for the Soy Sauce Chicken we normally order. As you can see from the pics, what’s impressive is that there’s almost no fat underneath the skin!

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With a bit of the Green Onion & Ginger mixture and some Steamed Rice, this was outstanding! :blush:

Roast Duck (Half):

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And what we were waiting for… the Roast Duck arrived. First thing in the morning. Taking a bite…

:sob: (Tears of Joy.) :sob:

We found it! FINALLY!

Hong Kong / Cantonese Roast Duck with real CRISPED SKIN! :heart: :heart: :heart:

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I thought it was a myth in the U.S. with the Department of Public Health and stricter food preparation laws, but somehow Ming Kee has done it! :slight_smile:

Sure, Peking Duck has a crispier skin (when done right), but there is something incredible about old-school, OG Hong Kong BBQ Roast Duck with Crisped Skin. The Duck meat was moist and juicy, it was well marinated and flavorful and was perfect with some Steamed Rice! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Best HK Roast Duck we’ve tried in the U.S. so far!

Ming Kee is simply, legit Hong Kong BBQ. It is easily another echelon above all of the HK BBQ places we’ve tried around L.A. (sans Roast Pork Belly (crispy skin), which Ming Kee does not serve). Stop by Ming Kee and order a 2 item plate, and enjoy some superior Soy Sauce Chicken done right.

Don’t forget to order their BBQ Pork Neck Plate for the most amazing version of Charsiu you have had Stateside. It is so incredible and umami, I can’t stop drooling right now. :heart:

And lastly, Ming Kee has achieved something no other HK BBQ restaurant we’ve tried so far in the U.S. has achieved: Real crisped skin Roast Duck (if you arrive earlier in the day), moist, juicy and perfectly savory without being overly salty.

How good was Ming Kee’s BBQ Pork Neck and Roast Duck (in the morning)? If that was the ONLY thing we ate on this trip, it would’ve made our SF flight worth it.

(Closed Wednesdays.)

($15 minimum for Credit Card.)

Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ
1548 Ocean Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94112

Tel: (415) 337-8198

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Wow that looks crazy legit

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Next time you’re in SF pickup some excellent waxed meat goodies at Mow Lee Shing Kee & Co in Chinatown. You won’t be able to find anything equivalent in LA.

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Thanks @Sgee! You scared me for a sec when I read “waxed meat”! :sweat_smile: I was thinking… “like the waxed fake food displays in front of some Japanese restaurants?!” LOL. Then I clicked the link. :wink:

Ah, so like preserved duck, sausages, etc. Wow that looks good! How do you cook that? Any recommendations? :slight_smile:

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This is the classic HK Cantonese method to serve the waxed goodies “Lap Mei Fan”.

Alternatively just toss in a couple sausages into the rice cooker mid-way through cooking to steam them. Slice the sausages thinly and serve with a dipping sauce of white vinegar&minced garlic. This dipping sauce is especially good with the liver sausages (darker colored).

They carry the best waxed meats I’ve in had in the US. Definitely worth a detour.

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Hi @Sgee,

This looks incredible! :open_mouth: Unfortunately I don’t have a clay pot at home. :frowning: Also I don’t think clay pots heat up on electric stove tops do they? :cry: But I can try the sausages into the rice cooker method you mentioned. Thanks! :slight_smile:

Yeah the clay pot & cooking over charcoal imparts a wonderful added aroma & bonus socarrat if get a chance to try it in the future. The meats are also great diced and tossed into fried rice.

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Yes!!!

I was hoping you would go!!! I am so glad you got to try Ming Kee out!!

I think you trust me

I randomly daydream about that pork neck and roast duck!!

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Thanks for the great recommendation @JeetKuneBao. :slight_smile:

This place is special. I wish there was an HK BBQ shop in So Cal that served this BBQ Pork Neck.

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Not HK BBQ but I had grilled pork neck at Night and Market Song. Very tasty.

Still prefer Ming Kee. I am not sure about Vancouver/Richmond B.C. but this place might just be the best HK BBQ in the West Coast. I don’t think anyone is doing HK BBQ at this level in SGV or Bay Area.

Seems pretty unappreciated by the foodie media.
Majority of the customers are local Canto’s and Chinese college students.

That pork neck has to be one of the best damn pork dishes around. @PorkyBelly you need this in your life, might even change your screen name to PorkyNeck

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It’s on my list for my next trip, thanks @JeetKuneBao @Chowseeker1999. Do they sellout of items often? Do I need to get there before a certain time?

I was going to suggest the pork toro at night + market too, grilled fatty tender porky goodness.

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Hi @PorkyBelly,

We were there after lunch rush, maybe 2 p.m., and they still had all 3 of the primary BBQ meats, but @beefnoguy might know if that’s normal or if they sell out earlier than that.

Hope you like it! :slight_smile:

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Hi @PorkyBelly,

One more note on that arrival time: At that late period in the afternoon, while the roast duck still had crisped skin and was very tasty, it was only barely warm (not hot). Which makes sense if they roast all their ducks earlier in the day. The BBQ pork neck was still hot though (probably the way they can keep it, vs. hanging ducks in the chopping block area). So maybe earlier would get you slightly warmer duck? (But the duck was delicious as is with the hot steamed rice.) :slight_smile:

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Over the years there have been lots of Cantonese dishes available in San Francisco that have been rare to non-existent in Los Angeles. Reason is fairly simple–in Cantonese-American parlance, San Francisco was always “dai fow” or big city. And what was “yee fow” or second city? That was Sacramento, because Los Angeles was a Chinese backwater until late 60s immigration reform, such that food pickings were slim. I’d read discussions on the predecessor board of old time Cantonese dishes that people were looking for or reminiscing about in SF Chinatown and never heard of any of them. And to this day the Bay Area is much more Cantonese than LA is.

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So glad you made it to Ming Kee!

I’ve spoken enough about them on that other food board, but sometimes it fell on deaf ears or people are going but not saying anything. Either that or people encounter inconsistencies or they prefer one of their competitors, Cheung Hing (on Noriega) by Toishanese where the roasted meats are supersized (makes you wonder if they were injected with growth hormones or anabolic steroids) and customers get a false sense of value while savoring in their marinades that are far less complex and far more salt forward (e.g. CH’s soy sauce chicken)…but hey to each their own!

But folks, one key point about Ming Kee is that the butchers/owners are 100% Hong Kong Cantonese. Cheung Hing and many other places (e.g. Chinatown) are Toishanese Cantonese, and they do things properly to Hong Kong expats. There are seasoning and recipe marinade differences/approaches even to roasties vs how other places do it. The same goes for if you get a roast duck from a Vietnamese Chinese place in the South Bay. Hard to explain, you have to taste enough for yourself to tell the differences.

Ming Kee does roasties right and as a neighborhood place with a super loyal local following, the QPR / ROI is very high. SF is lucky to have them. In other markets one would have to spend money at a seafood place with a roasties department to get premium quality, but the value is not there as much (and those are meant as appetizers). The duck at MK is not the absolute greatest, but not bad at all, at least meaty enough and not a ton of fat and quite flavorful at times. I am very curious about their marinated duck though, so I may get half to go sometime and give it a try. They also have BBQ chicken liver (not listed on their menu) but I haven’t tried it yet.

Their soy sauce chicken has always been legendary. A sufficiently sweet yet complex and nuanced marinade. R&G Lounge does a good soy sauce chicken too, but theirs is cloyingly sweet many times. “Princess chicken” is empress chicken, which is kind of like poached/Hainan kind of chicken but the herbs and seasoning used are more complex (in Cantonese it’s pronounced Gwai Fey Gai). They actually use two types of chicken for both renditions that you can request…the regular chicken which I prefer for soy sauce, and the range (bonier but more flavorful) for the Empress chicken. Some of my friends prefer the range chicken for soy sauce and that’s pure preference.

The BBQ pork neck meat/jowl seems to be recent addition since they remodeled and moved back to their current location (I don’t recall that before). It is really rich and of course excellent. All I can say is, not all roasties chefs have the confidence and ability to pull something off like this. For those who are watching their diet, could stick with regular BBQ pork/cha siu, and even the semi fatty cuts taste rich enough that can be as delicious. You can also find BBQ pork neck meat as an entree or rice plate at Smile House Cafe on Taraval, except SMC uses artificial coloring to make the edges look nice and reddish…but still quite delicious, not as excellent as Ming Kee for sure.

For the roasties rice plates, you can ask for a 3 meat combo plate (about $12.50), but only restricted to ones where they have enough quantity to not have a minimum order (e.g. half a marinated duck)…so BBQ spare ribs, BBQ pork/cha siu, empress chicken, soy sauce chicken, roast duck).

Their saltwater marinated chicken feet are very interesting and make for good beer snacks (sold by the pound). They also have soy sauce marinated duck tongues and a few other interesting bites (also by weight)…makes us wish we all have multiple stomachs like cows.

Sgee, good call on Mow Lee Shing Kee. Looks like Toishanese Cantonese ownership. Their lap ngap (preserved duck leg and butterflied) looks absolutely killer too. Given how food culture is dying a slow death in Hong Kong, we should fully appreciate and treasure whatever we have in the USA/Chinatowns and all. Them and Golden Gate Fortune Cookie company too.

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Thanks @chandavkl. Very interesting historical insight, I had no idea of that situation!

Thanks @beefnoguy. Another great recommendation! :slight_smile:

Yah the Hong Kong BBQ at Ming Kee is just wonderful, and as you said, the flavors / seasonings standout as well (and with the visit to Sam Woo down here, there’s just no comparison).

I’ll definitely have to try the Princess Chicken next time then. :slight_smile: I didn’t even see the Duck Tongues on the menu.

Do you have a place to recommend that’s even better for Hong Kong Roast Duck (we really liked Ming Kee’s)? Or is that the provenance of fancy Hong Kong Seafood Palaces?

You’re welcome! Glad that our great yet modest neighborhood Ming Kee doesn’t disappoint a SoCal FTCer!

I had Sam Woo (San Gabriel Square/Focus plaza) years ago, probably circa 2002/2003 and found it to be on average or on par with some of the mediocre South Bay Area Canto roasties stir fry kind of places. The Sam Woo in Toronto (probably Richmond Hill/Scarborough areas) however when I had it around late 1990s was legendary for its time. Perhaps it is a case of resting on their own laurels and fame, and knowing the locals down there have not much other choices (what could be worse? The roasties from 99 Ranch?). That’s a huge problem when it comes to less specialization.

You’ll need to go with a local to MK who speaks Cantonese at Ming Kee next time :slight_smile: to get into the off the path stuff that they offer. The most sad thing is that Ming has the technical skills to roast geese, but unfortunately he is unable to secure a steady supply that is of consistent quality that he is satisfied with, and I’m guessing most of the time it’s not available (or they just gave up). I’ve had the pleasure of trying his goose before twice, but last time (some years ago) it wasn’t as great.

To optimize your experience next visit you might need to purchase the roasties by weight, gather more people so you can try a wider spectrum, Uber/Lyft them to your AirBnB with a nicely equipped kitchen, reheat gently in the oven (or in a rice cooker when the rice is done, using steam heat) cook some vegetables (you know, to balance it out) and pop open your favorite wines and have a blast (Rieslings would work for sure, maybe a Chablis premiere Cru if you are feeling spendy, and/or a Beaujolais Cru: Morgon or Fleurie come to mind, particularly with the fattier cuts of meat and perhaps with a little BBQ liver) and maybe certain fuller bodied Junmai sake (dryer or aromatic types) would be fun to explore with them.

I don’t have a favorite roast duck place up here. I don’t eat enough half ducks or whole ducks to make that judgement call, and rice plate/a la carte ducks can vary. Cooking Papa (Foster City) otherwise is decent in a pinch, and ditto for Cheung Hing in Millbrae when one is willing to lower standards and allow the roasties to do its job for you for satisfying general cravings. Family loved the roast duck at Gold/Golden Mountain before in SF Chinatown (banquet type restaurant) which unfortunately I never got to try, as they have shuttered and unfortunately replaced with China Live and 8 Tables…

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Hi @beefnoguy,

Ooh! Hong Kong Roast Goose! :open_mouth: My friend from Hong Kong lamented once to us that there was almost no HK Roast Goose in L.A. to enjoy. But it sounds like even Ming Kee can’t get a good supply, darn. :frowning:

Thanks for the other tips; it sounds really cool if we lived up there. We usually go the hotel route, so no kitchen access.

Actually, LA (or SGV) was more predominantly Taiwanese influenced.