What do you know about Chinese barbecue? I don’t mean a vision of me standing in front of the grill on the balcony of my condo. You’ve probably seen it in chinatown, or in the corner of an Asian grocery stores. A large metal display illuminated by heat lamps adorned with glistening roasted meats like chicken, duck, slices of pork, and more likely than not, a full roasted pig. A masterful hand thumping away at a large wooden copping block covered in oil. There are many places around the city, but my favourite is Dak Hing Barbecue located in Côte-des Neiges.
Selling traditional Chinese barbecue, their display is stocked with the usual suspects. And having now been in a while, I didn’t know what to order, so I ordered my traditional, one of (almost) everything. For sure one of my most favourite comfort foods. A meal featuring Chinese barbecue evokes memories of my parents picking me up from Saturday Chinese school in Chinatown with aluminium containers upon aluminium containers of Chinese take out. Hot steamy barbecue permeating the inside of the car as I counted down each torturous minute until we get home to devour everything.
Barbecue to go
When ordering the full chicken, I usually ask them for a few extra containers of soy sauce; to pour over the chicken and then I save one to sip on with my meal.
Dak hing serves take-away meal boxes that features the meat of your choice over rice, with vegetables and a sweet soy dipping sauce. The chicken is perfectly poached in a sweet soya sauce, leaving the meat tender and juicy. When ordering the full chicken, I usually ask them for a few extra containers of soya sauce; to pour over the chicken and then I save one to sip on with my meal. The bbq pork (char siu) is sweet and savoury having being bathed in a honey and maltose glaze. The end pieces are the best. Fatty or lean pieces available – ask for the fatty-lean.
Any Chinese barbecue spot’s reputation worth their weight in pork is measured on the crispiness of the roast pork skin. I can confidently say that the crunchy pork skin is consistently mind-shatteringly delicious at Dak Hing.
Get the duck; it’s meaty and aromatic. I can’t tell you what’s the recipe (I obviously don’t know it,) but the base is usually the same regardless of where you get it from except with refinements and proprietary chef’s secret ingredients. The duck is marinaded with bean paste, garlic, onion, and five-spice powder then glazed with a sugar-based glaze to give it its colour. The skin is perfectly rendered and tender.
Besides the classic offerings of pork and poultry, Dak Hing also serves a wide variety of other items including, roasted quail, chicken or duck feet, “red sausage” (a Chinese version of salami), cuttle fish as well as other off-cuts roasted or poached in master stock. The roasted ribs are great. Treated similar to char siu, the ribs are sweet and not quite fall-of-the-bone. Ask for the rib tips, you’ll get bones and crunchy cartilage – yes, you eat the cartilage.
What do you know about Chinese barbecue? I don’t mean a vision of me standing in front of the grill on the balcony of my condo.
The roasted wings are one of my favourites. From what I’m convinced are from Pterodactyls (they’re actually from chicken), the sweet and sticky wings are humungous. I can eat at least five whole wings and make it a meal. The crunchy caramelized wing-tips are the best.
Don’t forget the “juung”
Dak Hing Barbecue also sells “Zongzi” or “Juung” in Cantonese. Sticky rice mixed with mung beans or peanuts, pork, Chinese sausage and a salted duck eggyolk wrapped in bamboo leaves and boiled for a couple of hours. What is normally made during the Dragon Boat Festival in the summer, they serve on the daily.
They offer two different kinds of juung. One with peanuts and one with mung beans. Naturally I got one of each. It’s similar to a tamale, but a Chinese version… A Chamale if you will.
Dak hing is a family business started by a brother and sister duo first apprenticed at the O.G. spot in Chinatown Lam Kee, before briefly managing the BBQ counter at Marche Fu Tai then ultimately establishing their own store on Van Horne about five years ago. Along a busy strip of Van Horne, don’t let the modest facade or the shady alley next door deter you – the place is legit. Some might even say, “legittest” (actually no, no one says that, only me, but it’s a real thing). It’s one of the best and the only place I got to get my fix of no frills Chinese barbecue.
Dak Hing Barbecue
4705 Van Horne Avenue