Okay, I admit I've only lived in NYC for a year and a half, but I just can't find the same type of Cantonese BBQ here that I grew up with in Toronto. In Cantonese, I believe these restaurants are referred to as "siek SUE-yeh" -- meaning "late-night BBQ"; the type of place you can go for a quick, cheap, informal meal that -- depending on whether or not you order from the BBQ counter -- is served within seconds, at any time of day or night.
I refer to Toronto's Cantonese BBQ scene as it's my gold-standard for this cuisine. There are a number of dishes that are readily available here but I don't consider of the same quality or flavour as I have found at home. I've experienced BBQ houses in HK and Guangzhou, I find Toronto comparable, sometimes even better. I'm not sure why.
Soy-chicken (SIeu-guy) at home is juicy, tender, not too salty, and is served with a side of that amazing green onion/ginger/vinegar garnish. Here, it is tough and the chickens are just too big, so an order ends up being only one or two pieces, as opposed to a smaller half-bird. And nobody seems to know what I'm talking about when I ask for the onion/ginger garnish.
BBQ pork (cha-sieu) here is overcooked, not fatty enough and TOO DAMNED RED. It's like every restaurant goes crazy with the red food dye. As far as I'm concerned, cha-sieu should be deep reddish BROWN, and should be served straight from the tub of this reddish brown sauce, with the occasional one hanging in the window, still dripping. I'm not sure what gives the sauce its dark hue, it looks to be a mollases or brown-sugar type of addition (the sauce, however, has only the slightest hint of sweet).
Roast suckling pig (yuu-juu, I think) is, I admit, a rare item that is only served for special occasions (or if you order in advance), but I haven't found a place for it yet. There are a number of places in Toronto that -- if they're having a busy lunch-hour -- will come around with plates of yuu-juu, offering it as a 'special'.
You can find regular roast pig (sieu-yhok, I think) easily, but I'd like to find a place with high enough turnover that you can order from a dried-out pig that hasn't been hanging in the window all day.
And don't get me started on green-vegetables (choi). I ordered "shun-yeong gai lan" (Chinese broccoli with garlic) and the waiter brought me a plate of freaking BROCCOLI with garlic. I asked him "don't you have any gai-lan?" to which he replied "oh, you have to go to Chinatown to get that". Admittedly, I was in Chelsea at the time.
So, I guess I'm asking this: can someone recommend a Cantonese BBQ restaurant in Manhattan with:
- a good selection of fresh, window-hung BBQ;
- good broth for noodle-in-soup (tong mien);
- a choice of Chinese greens (dau-mieu/gai-lan/choi-sum)
- an authentic Hong Kong BBQ house feel
I know it's out there, I just haven't found it yet. Suggestions?
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