Thunk, thunk, thunk sliiiiide. Thunk, thunk sliiiide. Thunk thunk thunk thunk, sliiiiide.
These are the never-ending sounds of a butcher’s cleaver hitting wood in a BBQ shop. He pulls piece after piece of lucent, golden meat from the case and chops it accurately, quickly, and heavily before sliding it over soy-sauced rice.
My foray into the realm of Richmond Chinese BBQ continues. It’s an intimidating world, one full of rich opinions, fat comparisons, and hefty amounts of salt. After my trip to Parker Place BBQ, I was inundated with recommendations to visit the award-winning HK BBQ Master, which I stumbled upon weeks later while trying to enter Superstore. It’s in the parking garage, proving you’ll find Richmond restaurants in the most unlikely of places.
There’s simply no way you’d know it was there from the road. The underbelly of a massive store may not seem like prime real estate to you, but it doesn’t matter. Plenty of people know it’s there.
When I arrived around 7pm, the place was busy. There’s a small seating area, but for the most part it appeared as though people were taking their food to go. I intended on doing the same, as my roommate and I wanted to catchup over dinner. I’d bring home BBQ if she took care of the veggies, and we’d be set.
My ‘instruction manual’ for the visit was this post on Chow Times, a blog that’s covered just about every restaurant in Richmond and Vancouver, or so it seems. Ben, (one of its two authors, the other is his wife Suanne), goes into serious detail regarding fat vs meat ratios and roasting methods at HK compared to Parker Place; apparently at Parker Place they roast the whole pig, while at HK they roast only the belly to ensure consistency.
In his blog post, Ben also gives instructions on how to order meat that’s part lean, part fat. By the time I made it to the counter, however, the phrase boon fei sau was farther from my brain than Pluto, and all I managed was “Roast duck, BBQ pork, and soya chicken, please” in feeble English. Oh well, at least I managed that.
On the menus outside and above the counter, they make it easy for you. There are plenty of well-highlighted options for half and whole pounds of various types of meat (duck, pork, chicken, ribs etc), plus combos for two ($7.50) or three kinds of meat ($9.50) served with rice.
I opted for the three meat combo: BBQ duck, honey BBQ pork, and soya chicken. The prices conveniently include tax, so I paid up and watched while they assembled the order with magnificent speed. Into the container went several scoops of rice, a mild soy sauce was poured over it, the three types of meat were chopped (thunk! thunk! thunk!) and placed in, the chicken was doused with a spoonful of green onion sauce, the box was closed, slid into a bag, and I was good to go. Which I did quickly, since I was starving.
When I arrived home my roommate Janine had grilled zucchini and eggplant all ready,
and we popped open the BBQ container to examine the pieces of meat.
I took pictures of each of the three kinds, but I must have been shaking with hunger because they are terrible. So sorry about that. Funnily enough, our favourite turned out to be the soya sauce chicken. It was outrageously juicy, and beautifully flavoured.
The BBQ duck came second; its dark meat was salty and tender, with an amount of fat between it and the skin that even I could handle.
The honey BBQ pork was a little tough for my liking, and I much preferred the version at Parker Place BBQ, which was also saucier.
Not to be excluded from praise was the rice + soy sauce. Such texture! Such salty sweetness! I could have eaten plates of it.
Marsou, my roommate’s dog (and my nephew) was also keen to get in on the action. He stood in rapt attention next to the table as we ate. Poor thing. Maybe someone should start making boon fei sau Chinese BBQ dog treats.
So here’s what to do: if you want to impress the heck out of your meat-eating friends who don’t already know about HK BBQ Master, get them to drive to Superstore. As they protest (“like WHY are we going to SUPERSTORE for dinner?”) you can smile, nod smugly, and just say “trust me.” Lead them through the dark, cave-like parking garage, and treat them to BBQ. Not only can you afford it ($9.50 feeds several people easily), but you’ll be the person who knew about that sweet, hidden BBQ gem in Richmond.
That’s how I feel, anyways!
Not vegetarian friendly!