Hong Kong-style roasted meat — locally known as siu mei (燒味) — is a must-try for visitors to the city. The succulent, flavorful meats can be found in streetside shops all over the city as well as in upscale Chinese restaurants.
Siu mei shops are instantly recognizable by their window displays, which feature large slices of meat as well as whole chickens and ducks hanging from wires. Typically, the chef can be seen in the open kitchen, wielding a large butcher’s knife and chopping the meat to order.
Each type of meat (pork, duck, goose, etc.) is served with its own distinct sauce. Typically, a box containing two types of siu mei over a bed of steaming hot rice and a side of veggies only costs around $25HKD, making it one of the cheapest meals that can be had in the city. Here are some of the common types of siu mei.
Char siu (叉燒) — Barbecued pork
This is by far the most popular type of siu mei. Char siu consists of strips of boneless pork shoulder roasted over a spit. In the process, the strips of meat are coated in a sweet sauce consisting of soy sauce, fermented soybeans, garlic, hoisin sauce, and wine.
Siu yuk (燒肉) — Roasted pork belly
Siu yuk is roasted at high temperature until the skin is crispy and brittle. The meat is then cut into bite-sized cubes, to better let the diner enjoy the contrast between the crunchy skin and delicate, moist meat below.
Siu zyu (燒豬) — Roasted suckling pig
Roasted suckling pig is seen on restaurant banquet menus, not hole-in-the-wall siu mei restaurants. The pig in question is an unweaned piglet aged between two and six weeks old. The fanciest kinds are served whole (including the head), while the body is chopped into edible pieces. Suckling pig is distinctive for its incredibly light and crunchy skin, which falls away from the succulent meat as you bite into it.
Siu ngo (燒鵝) — Roasted goose and Siu ngaap (燒鴨) — Roasted duck
When preparing roasted goose or duck, the whole bird is stuffed (the mixture typically includes ginger, star anise, and five-spice powder) and then roasted inside a charcoal-fired stove. The resulting dish usually has a crispy skin with a bright sheen and juicy meat, and is served with plum sauce or a sweet and sour sauce. Duck is usually used as a cheaper substitute for goose.
Baat cit gai (白切雞) — Steamed chicken and Si yao gai (豉油雞) — Soy sauce chicken
Both these dishes are steamed, not roasted, but are often still classified with siu mei because they tend to be sold alongside the other meats listed here. Soy sauce chicken is marinated in soy sauce beforehand, while steamed chicken or “white cut chicken” is unseasoned, and is typically served with a minced garlic and scallion sauce to bring a fresh edge to the meat.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.