The New Keung Kee BBQ shop
OK, I have to be honest here, this is not the whole of Shanghai Street. This is just one shop on Shanghai Street and the scenes surrounding it. And, I also have to own up to the fact that this shop houses one of my favourite eateries in Hong Kong. This is where I go to get into one of my favourite dishes – 叉雞胸飯. Now, how am I supposed to translate that? As I speak it, it sounds something like, “cha gaai hung faan”. Meaning, as you see it on the plate, some cut up BBQ pork, some cut up chicken breast and all this over a pile of rice and souped over with some gravy or “jup”. Now, you see, Cantonese is such a wonderfully efficient language – no if’s, but’s and what’s – just four words to get your order. Have to love it.
OK, I’m getting a touch carried away here. Let’s get back to the shop, the pictures and Shanghai Street.
This shop, known as the New Keung Kee BBQ shop [ 新強記燒臘飯店 ], is located at 113 Shanghai Street in Jordan on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. Well, more like in Yau Ma Tei and up near Nanking Street. The nearest MTR station is Jordan but, you will then need to cross Jordan Road as in heading over to Yau Ma Tei.
The place is popular and forever busy. One of the interesting things about Hong Kong – well, China in general – is that, if there’s a crowd around an eatery, you’re likely to be keeping good company. This is a sure enough sign that you might be in the right place. If touts have to pursue you for your patronage – just keep on walking on. Such establishments are popular for a reason – it’s usually because they serve good food and this is something that they’ve been doing consistently so and for a long while.
The fare at these cooked foods or BBQ shops – colloquially referred to as ‘siu mei’ [ 燒味 ] – is usually a mix of ‘cha-siu’ [ 叉燒 – as in ‘BBQ pork’ ], ‘roast duck’ [ 燒鴨 or ‘siu-aap’ ], ‘crackling pork’ [ 燒肉 or ‘siu-yuk’ ] and ‘steamed chicken’ [ 白切雞 or 豉油雞 – white cut or soy sauce chicken ]. Other shops may sell steamed cuttlefish, roast chicken, Chinese sausage and other cut meats.
More often than not, the money is in the passing street trades – as in people buying take-away meals. While this shop has seating space inside where one can sit down and order a meal, the real business is out here on the street. Customers will place their orders – as in either making a specific request for something or, pointing out to a delicacy or the piece they want. The butcher will then cut up the piece or pieces and package it up by placing it in a polystyrene lunch box. Sometimes a customer may order rice and gravy to go with his or her order.
I used to stop by New Keung Kee quite often. But, before going inside to the restaurant section to get something to eat, I would hang around outside for a while. I loved observing the hustle and bustle around shop outside and photographing this particular butcher at work. Over the period, we got to know each other so, no real issue. This was one of his typical gestures, this as he called up the next customer and asking them for their order.
Patronage and good customer service – nothing like keeping your customers satisfied and allowing them to sample the some of the fare on offer. OK, to put things into some context here and in terms of the whole COVID thing, I’m not sure if this practice still persists during this current pandemic. That said, this was also post-SARS Hong Kong.
Like I said, if there’s a long queue waiting to be served, you know that there’s got to be something here worthwhile waiting for and, there usually is.
So, that’s just one shop and one stop for you along Shanghai Street. Shanghai Street is actually something of a major thoroughfare in this part of Hong Kong. Shanghai Street had or has something of salacious and solicitous reputation – as in being part of Hong Kong’s red light district. Does Hong Kong have a “red light” district? A little like Wan Chai – yes and no. If there’s anything like that here along Shanghai Street, it’s usually hidden in “plain sight” – if you follow my meaning? Like, you won’t see anything unless you’re looking for it.
Did you learn anything from this little tour? Feel free to comment below. If you’re interested, more pictures can be found at this photo gallery link – SHANGHAI STREET, HONG KONG
If you like what you’ve found here, feel free to check out the other post in this series of “Hong Kong street guides”.
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