For whatever reason HK roasties in LA is very mediocre…
Ok, that explains SGV roasties…
Well it depends on your time horizon. When I was a kid and even into early adulthood virtually all the Chinese in LA were Cantonese, and in particularly Toishanese like myself. Never even met a Hong Konger until I was in high school, and was a few more years before I met a Taiwanese person (my cousin’s wife).
The funny thing is there was a fire a few years ago and the whole building was rebuilt. I went back about two weeks after they first reopend and was laughing at how shiny new it was but they just stuck a handwritten menu on the wall like it was before the fire. Within a month they had the interior patina of a place that had been opened for decades - you’d never have known it was a brand new building except from the exterior.
I usually go after 6:00 when they are sweeping up and there is just roast pork and maybe some soy chicken left. Up until late afternoon they are pretty well stocked with everything else.
Thanks for sharing that story @brisket44. Wow, you’re right, the interior makes it look like it’s been there for decades.
Apparently they stopped doing crispy skin roast pork and roast pork belly when I dropped in over the weekend (even though it is on the menu). Wondering if their roaster couldn’t accomodate the variety or that they couldn’t do it in consistent quality. That’s too bad!
! Ming Kee used to do Roast Pork Belly and crispy Roast Pork?! I didn’t even see this on the menu. Was it removed recently?
They have two menus: the red one is for takeout Roasties by weight but you could ask to see which ones can be ordered a la carte (dine in) and clarify which ones are half portion minimum (though it’s obvious if on the takeout by weight menu whether something is sold either by weight or by half the animal)
I asked about roast pork/roast pork belly for a la carte or add on as a protein for rice plate and they said they haven’t done both in a long time.
Thanks @beefnoguy! I’ll have to hope they have Roast Pork Belly next time and try it.
I tried some of the pork neck/jowl after reading your post. Knocked my socks off— an incredible cut and preparation.
Nice! So glad you liked it. There’s nothing like this in L.A. I’m craving that BBQ Pork Neck / Jowl again.
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.”
So we couldn’t finish this wonderful trip without a final stop at Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ before our flight home.
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).
#8 Soy Sauce Chicken & Roast Duck Over Rice:
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
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.
BBQ Pork Neck (Plate):
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!
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! (@paranoidgarliclover @Ns1 @A5KOBE @Sgee @PorkyBelly and others.)
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:
Princess Yellow Chicken (Half):
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!
With a bit of the Green Onion & Ginger mixture and some Steamed Rice, this was outstanding!
Roast Duck (Half):
And what we were waiting for… the Roast Duck arrived. First thing in the morning. Taking a bite…
(Tears of Joy.)
We found it! FINALLY!
Hong Kong / Cantonese Roast Duck with real CRISPED SKIN!
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!
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!
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.
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.
($15 minimum for Credit Card.)
Ming Kee Hong Kong BBQ
1548 Ocean Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94112
Tel: (415) 337-8198
I haven’t had Ming Kee but do try out Mott 32’s Iberico char siu in Las Vegas. The use of Iberico pork neck is game changing despite its high cost. Normally, you’ll need lots of fat in char siu to get that tender and juicy mouthfeel but NOT with Iberico pork.
Yup, “Brother Ming” is da man. Legit 500% Hong Konger and not Southern Mainland Chinese Toishanese doing BBQ like everyone else. Legit, blue collar, and does it right.
I don’t think I’ve had stellar duck even at noon on a weekend (or before noon), but very happy for you that you enjoyed our best.
The biggest disappointment is that they stopped selling crispy skin roast pork, I think they weren’t happy with the results after they moved back to the original (current) location after the fire that burnt down the adjacent business some years back. When they first re-opened their quality wasn’t as good but luckily they ramped back up.
For what it is worth: Guangdong Barbecye Tea House on Irving and Yee’s Restaurant in Chinatown (a short walk from Golden Gate Bakery) both have roast goose. Yee’s goose is decent, but a bit gamey when I last (and first) had it, and very muscular.
When Ming Kee occupied the location at Guangdong Barbecue about 5 years ago (sometime after the fire) and had access to a good sized kitchen with a killer stir fry chef (ex Yum’s Bistro), I had roast goose there and it was awesome (although boney).
Empress chicken or gwai fei gai is not boiled but there are multiple steps to the cooking process and is far more labor intensive than Wenchang chicken, Hainan chicken, or the white chopped chicken. Can’t say I know exactly what the steps are but I’ve had the real deal a long time ago and nobody has even come close to that flavor so far in the USA.
Ginger scallion sauce makes all the difference in the world on those MK roasties rice plates, whether with soy sauce or empress chicken, and dabbing a little bit on the BBQ pork or pork neck just to counter the sweet is fun too.
What I have yet to try there…marinated squab, and I think they have a few other marinated items as well on their Chinese menu against the wall, but I think they only sell by weight / as a full entree.
I was hoping you would return!!
Thanks for the wonderful review and pics, truth be told, Ming Kee is one of my favorite places!
Thanks @moonboy403. I’ve bookmarked it in case I head over to LV (not very often). How much is Mott32’s dish?
Another great thing about Ming Kee is its humble prices as well ($9 (tip already included(!), so like $7.50 base price) for enough BBQ Pork Neck to feed 3 people.
Thanks again for the great report @Chowseeker1999, I have to try that duck next time, looks great.
Last time I got the pork neck I didn’t get the nice 50/50 balance of fat and meat like in your pictures. My cut was more like 70/30 almost 80/20 fat to meat. It was insanely rich, my arteries felt like i was drinking a bowl of tsujita’s ramen broth straight up, good but only in small amounts.
Yes, Ming Kee is so good! Thank you for the great rec. There’s a noticeable difference in taste and roasting and other preparations (like the Princess Chicken).
Definitely bummed I didn’t get to try their Roast Pork Belly / crispy skin before their fire / before it was removed from their menu.
Re: Squab! Yes, I forgot to mention: Did @JeetKuneBao or you try their Squab or Roast Pork Ribs before? I saw it handwritten on the wall behind the butcher counter (but not on their menu at the table). Next time then.
Re: Roast Duck, yah, I hope it’s not a rare occurrence, but we’ll be sure to return on our next visit as well to do some more research. Perhaps it’s like the Croissant situation (I’ve been documenting), where the earlier you arrive closer to when they come out of the oven (so closer to their opening) the better the skin? We devoured the Ming Kee Roast Duck on this 3rd visit. So good!
Thank you again so much for your great review of this place! You and @beefnoguy were the reason we ended up finally going.
Not at Mott 32. It’s $42 and it certainly wouldn’t feed 3 people, but pricing is inline what I had in Hong Kong for Spanish Iberico char siu. It’s something that needs to be experienced at least once to see what Cantonese BBQ is capable of when tip top ingredient is used.