Finally, the clouds seem to be clearing for travel and if there’s one thing that we in Singapore don’t get that people in Hong Kong can, it’s roast goose.
It’s an archetypal Cantonese staple — and for good reason. Done correctly, this dish is a tantalising tango of taste and texture, with light, crisp skin, rich, melty fat and tender, juicy meat, balanced by a sweet and slightly acidic plum sauce.
Although originally a favourite amongst greasy spoons, Hong Kong roast goose has also found itself in established eateries across the city. Whether you’re looking for a casual bite, speedy takeout or a proper sit-down affair, you are certain to find a viable option at one of the following acclaimed Hong Kong roast goose joints.
Yat Lok Roast Goose
Goose connoisseurs will still look back fondly on Yat Lok’s original restaurant in Tai Po, which arguably served the city’s singular perfect goose. It earned this humble restaurant a Michelin star and was further propelled to stardom with praises sung by none other than Anthony Bourdain. Operated by the Chu family since 1957 and closed in 2018, the only way to get your Yat Lok fix these days is at their Central branch, which opened in 2011 — an unassuming eatery wedged between a stationery store and longtime construction site on Stanley street.
Their roast goose boasts glistening, crisp skin and sweet, tender meat that is flavourful but never too gamey. Although you may be sitting elbow to elbow during lunch hours, a visit to this generations-old family-run diner is well worth the minor inconvenience. Try their most frequently ordered dish of goose drumstick over noodle soup, where the hot, light broth cuts through the fattiness of the goose for a balanced and satisfying meal.
Yat Lok Roast Goose, G/F, 34-38 Stanley Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2524 3882
Yung Kee was established in 1942 and is arguably the most famous of roast goose eateries in Hong Kong — its longstanding address on Wellington Street has become something of an institution for sophisticated Cantonese fare. The geese are smoked in charcoal ovens, giving the tender and juicy meat a signature fragrance and char. While the meat is prioritised at Yung Kee, the skin is admittedly slightly less crispy than their competitors. The accompanying plum sauce leans slightly more towards acidic as opposed to sweet. Aside from roast goose, other noteworthy highlights at Yung Kee include their century egg, and soya beans marinated in their iconic plum sauce.
Yung Kee, 32-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2522 1624
Kam’s Roast Goose
Kam’s was founded by the grandson of one of the Yung Kee originators, and has certainly paved its own path in Hong Kong’s roast goose royalty. Although Kam’s Roast Goose is a relatively new contender established in 2014, it quickly grew a cult following and was awarded a Michelin star within four months of opening. The geese are roasted in a gas oven as opposed to traditional charcoal, but the texture and taste are not at all compromised — retaining for the most part that classic, sought-after flavour even with newer methods. Similar to Yung Kee, the skin is slightly less crisp as the tender and juicy meat takes centre stage. However, unlike Yung Kee, the plum sauce is slightly sweeter and fruitier with less of an acidic tang.
Kam’s Roast Goose, 226 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2520 1110
Ho Lee Fook
Ho Lee Fook is known for its refined execution of modern Chinese cuisine fused with Western elements, and their roast goose is no exception. Award-winning chef Jowett Yu describes his take on roast goose as an ‘adaptation’ of the typical Cantonese style. The goose is first marinated in brine brimming with spices including star anise, cloves, peppercorns, ginger and cassia buds, before being glazed with vinegar and sugar and left to dry overnight. It is then roasted in two sessions, broken up by a 30 minute rest. The resulting roast goose is succulent and juicy with crisp skin, the meat imbued with a host of fragrant spices that add to the complex flavour profile without overwhelming the taste buds.
Ho Lee Fook, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2810 0860
Yue Kee Roast Goose Restaurant
Yue Kee is known for their smoky and aromatic geese, roasted in charcoal ovens to smoky, crispy perfection. Third-generation owner Jason Ng uses birds from their own farm in Guangdong, insisting that the black maned geese variety provides a more meaty and fresh taste. The cooking process is also rather specific, and involves filling the bird with air to separate the skin from the meat, allowing the fat to render off to create an even juicier, flavourful result. Although Yue Kee is a little out of the way up in the northwestern New Territories, and may be harder to find for out-of-towners, it’s certainly a worthwhile stop and a must-try for those hunting to sample the perfect Hong Kong roast goose!
Yue Kee Roast Goose Restaurant, 9 Sham Hong Road, Sham Tseng, Hong Kong, +852 2491 0105
Joy Hing’s Roasted Meat
Joy Hing’s has stood the test of time as connoisseurs of roast meats in Hong Kong, even dating back to the late Qing dynasty, when it claims to be the first Cantonese char siu store in Guangdong. Not including a temporary closure during the war, Joy Hing has served their impeccable roast meats for over a hundred years using traditional roasting techniques — its oven dates back to the pre-WWII-era. Aside from roast goose, those also looking to sample a selection of their famed roast meats should add on the ‘Three-Treasure Rice,’ a combination of their roast duck, roast chicken and char siu served atop a bed of steamed white rice.
Joy Hing Roasted Meat, 1C Stewart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, +852 2519 6639
Sham Tseng Chan Kee Restaurant
Sham Tseng Chan Kee is the perfect example of a no-frills Hong Kong eatery with tight elbow-to-elbow seating in a minimally furnished, plasticky space. But locals and tourists don’t flock to Sham Tseng Chan Kee for the décor or ambience – they come for the roast goose. Although Chan Kee was founded in 1949, they only began selling roast goose in 1978 upon noticing the success of their neighbour, Yue Kee. With the fierce competition to steer them on track, Chan Kee quickly and successfully made a name for themselves with their roast goose. The bronzed, crispy skin combined with succulent and juicy meat has rendered them experts of this Canto classic and placed them — and Sham Tseng district — on the roast goose map, irrespective of their neighbours.
Sham Tseng Chan Kee, 63 Castle Peak Road, Sham Tseng, Hong Kong, +852 2491 0722
With chef Li Man-lung at the helm, Duddell’s offers a reinvented recipe for a winning roast goose. The geese at Duddell’s are sourced from Foshan, with specially selected 90-day-old female geese that undergo a two day marination process before being air-dried. This method enables the geese to retain flavourful and juicy meat whilst accompanied by crispy, golden skin. The birds are freshly roasted for lunch and dinner, served with a homemade plum sauce that features aromatic Chinese rose wine.
Leaving the city but haven’t had time to sample this classic Hong Kong delicacy? Worry not, for the Duddell’s airport branch serves up their roast goose with travel-friendly, leak-proof packaging to take your precious cargo through the flight and beyond. Don’t forget to pick up a jar of their divine homemade X.O. sauce, the classic Cantonese condiment that pairs well with just about anything – including roast goose.
Duddell’s, 3/F, Shanghai Tang Mansion, 1 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2525 9191
This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.