Friday, April 8, 2016

Farewell to Yun Kee Kitchen

As all the street-side stalls have closed for business late at night, one could still hear the noise coming out of this block in Sham Shui Po from the famous Yun Kee Kitchen. For the past 20 years or so, this down-to-earth neighborhood restaurant has built up a reputation as being one of the best kept secret in the area, serving a combination of classic and creative Cantonese dishes with quality cooking and ingredients.

When we heard the news that the restaurant is closing as the chef-owner has decided to "hang up his wok and cleaver", we decided to come here for one last time with a group of friends. After all this is the venue we had one of our earlier dinner gatherings and it’s good to go back here for old time’s sake.

One obvious benefit of coming as a big group was we could order more dishes to share. We started with the signature roast pork - the waiter was joking that the dish has become so popular that it has to be rationed, limited to one dish per table, so we didn't hesitate to order the biggest portion we could. While high-end restaurants bragged about the fine breed of pig they use for their roast pork dish (and charge twice as much as normal), here it's all about techniques. The pork belly was properly brined and marinated, then roast in an electric oven, with the crispiest skin and five clear layers of fat and tender meat underneath, bringing together the perfect tender texture. And the dish was good no matter what time you came - it's almost as if the whole pig just came out of the oven, right on time when you ordered.

Steamed whole chicken was another signature dish of the restaurant, one described as "Best of the World" on the menu. Chef insisted on using the fresh chicken instead of the frozen ones, resulting in the juiciest, most tender meat with good amount of fat just underneath the skin. It was served with the traditional ginger sauce made in-house.

All the other dishes were very good as well. The restaurant claimed to be the first in town to introduce the dish "Sa Lai Gwut" (沙拉骨), a somewhat fusion dish with deep-fried bone-in pork chops and a generous spread of mayo-based sauce. While I am not sure how accurate the claim is, the sweet and creamy sauce they use – said to be made in-house with cream and mango juice - was excellent.

I also liked the pair of deep-fried dishes, of cuttlefish mouth and squid, done in the traditional dai pai dong style with a thin batter mixed with salt and black peppers, especially the cuttlefish mouth for the interestingly crunchy texture. The sautéed potato and beef was such a simple dish, with only potato chunks, tenderized beef cubes, mushrooms and gravy, but it was good as a home-styled dish, one that went well with a bowl of steamed rice.

It's sad to see another wonderful restaurant goes, especially this being one of our go-to restaurants for late night dining on the Kowloon side, and we will definitely going to miss their wonderful roast pork. There's nothing quite like seeing the warm and crispy pork belly arriving at every table to everyone's excitement day in, day out.

When? March 24 2016
Where? Yun Kee Kitchen, 118-120 Fuk Wah Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Signature Roast Pork

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