Thursday, 28 November 2013

Yat Lok, Central, Hong Kong (Alissa and Don Eat Asia Day 4, Part 2)

"Now I like pork, and I know I talk about it a lot and how it’s like the best thing ever.
But in fact, the best thing ever is actually goose" - Anthony Bourdain

Before we departed for Hong Kong, my Uncle Keiron implored that I absolutely had to have roast goose everyday. With so many items on our 'to eat' list, it was inevitable that daily goose eating was simply not going to be on the cards. However, it has to be said that no omnivorous food tour of Hong Kong can be complete without trying roast duck's even more delicious big brother.

After eating our Caprice cake in bed (because that's how we roll), Alissa and I decided to explore the streets between Central and Soho to see if we could find any interesting shops we had perhaps missed earlier in our visits to those areas. This shopping expedition proved largely unfruitful so we found ourselves finished fairly early, with a choice of heading back to the hotel and then back out to Yat Lok, or having an early dinner. Not really in the mood to go and come back to face crowds and feeling like we wanted to have a quiet night in, we decided to head for Yat Lok, located conveniently on Stanley St near Central Station.

I'd done my research and Yat Lok's reputation for amazing roast goose preceded it, with their Tai Po store being the scene of Anthony Bourdain's conversion to goose in a 2007 episode of No Reservations. As we came in off the narrow street, the small spartan venue looked just like another Hong Kong barbecue joint, but the fact it was filled to near capacity at 4:45pm was evidence of the high esteem in which Yat Lok is held. 

We were sat down at shared table and handed menus filled with many different options for how we could have our goose, as well as their other dishes. A man at the table next to us thoroughly recommended getting their signature dish – the goose leg and noodle soup - saying we would not regret it. I decided to get the goose leg and noodle soup, with Alissa ordering the dumplings and noodle soup. Additionally, we ordered a plate of even more goose (from a different cut) as well as some of their char siu to share.

First to our table was the plate of goose and char siu. Alissa and I had our first bite of the roast goose and we were hooked. Tastier and more meaty than duck, Yat Lok's goose was well seasoned, juicy and not overly fatty with a truly noteworthy crispy skin. This was excellent  goose. The char siu was also truly excellent, but as the Bourdain quote above suggests the salty-sweet flavour of even the best char siu is forced to play second fiddle next to roast goose this good.

Our noodles arrived and unfortunately there had been a misunderstanding with Alissa's order as the dumplings with noodle soup were steamed rather than the fry-steamed option she had actually wanted. Nevertheless, the dumplings were very tasty even if they were again overshadowed by the awesomeness of the goose.

My dish looked absolutely mouthwatering in the bowl. The meat off the bone was incredibly tasty. Additionally, the experience of eating it off the bone was different to the pieces on the plate due to the higher crispy skin to meat ratio, and the barbarian-like satisfaction of gnawing on a delicious leg bone. My noodles and soup were the same as Alissa's. The noodles were excellent, being toothsome to bite and the broth amongst the best and most umami of this Chinese soup style I've had.

The Verdict: Excellent
Coming after three Michelin Starred meals (four if you include us eating Caprice cake for lunch), Yat Lok achieved something truly commendable – it did not feel like a step down at all. We shall definitely have to go again next time we are in Hong Kong. 

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