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 chopping block covered in oil. There are many places around the city, but my favourite is Dak Hing Barbecue located in Côte-des Neiges.
Char siu literally means “fork roasted” – this name comes the two-pronged skewer that the pork is traditionally roasted on. The sweet and savoury roasted pork is succulent that leaves fingers craved to be sucked on and lips to be smacked (yes, I’m still talking about char siu). There’s a classic Chinese saying that states, “The versatility of char siu and its appearance in 80% of chinese dishes is comparable to the vast array of film character portrayed by Kevin Spacey.” Well, no; Chinese people don’t actually say that, I just made that up… but you know what I mean.
You’ve probably walked past this on numerous occasions the last time you were in Chinatown stocking up on your yearly quota of chocolate Pocky, or going for dim sum. To the uninitiated, the bbq stand might look intimidating with its glass window showcasing various roasted and barbecued meats glistening under the heat lamps and the lineup of old Asian aunties yelling, talking loudly, clambering to make sure they cop the right bird that looks plumpest or the perfect piece of char siu that is both fatty and lean. To help you navigate this uncharted delicious roasted terrain, here is my definitive guide to the Chinese bbq stand.