Roasted Pork Belly, Crispy Roast Duck, BBQ Pork - A Hong Kong BBQ Journey. [BONUS: Amazing Crackling Roasted Suckling Pig!] - Ruby BBQ, Ho Kee, Hop Woo, Sam Woo, New Duong Son BBQ, Lien Hoa BBQ, Noodle Boy, Monterey Palace [Thoughts + Pics]

Pearl River Deli is doing Roast Duck (Soon!)


Update 2 (To-Go):

Catching up on some Hong Kong BBQ explorations just before the pandemic hit and afterwards (To-Go).

Ho Kee Cafe (New Branch - Arcadia)

Ho Kee Cafe OG branch was a mixed experience for us last year, but with talks of a new branch opening in Arcadia, with a larger menu, we were curious how their offerings might turn out.

Seasonal Vegetables - Sprouting Cauliflower with Preserved Pork:

This was a nice surprise, seeing a Chinese restaurant serving Sprouting Cauliflower with Preserved Pork. This was tasty, the Sprouting Cauliflower having a good texture and density without getting too soft. The Preserved Pork added a nice fragrant meaty aroma to each bite as well.

Roast Duck (Half):

This was OK. It was similar to Ho Kee’s OG branch experience: Fresh-tasting Roast Duck meat, moist, tender, but flabby Duck skin. :frowning:

Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Duck Eggs:

Unfortunately, their Steamed Minced Pork with Salted Duck Eggs was a letdown: The Minced Pork was at least 50-70% Pork Fat(!). :sob: As in, unrendered chunks of Pork Fat, chewy, chunky and inedible. Avoid.

2nd Visit:

Pork with Preserved Vegetables:

Coincidentally, we had gotten to try this dish right before Chef Johnny Lee and Pearl River Deli debuted their Housemade version, so it was nice to have a recent frame of reference.

Ho Kee’s version of Pork with Preserved Vegetables was fine: The actual Mei Tsai (Preserved Vegetables) flavor had a nice deep almost savory intense flavor, but Pearl River Deli’s version was better. The Steamed Pork Belly here was a bit more tender (but still a bit too firm / meaty) compared to Pearl River Deli’s version, though.

Squid with Salt and Pepper:

Their Fried Squid with Salt and Pepper was decent. Not crisp enough, but an adequate fry.

Sauteed Pea Shoots with Garlic:

The Sauteed Pea Shoots with Garlic had a solid saute, just cooked through, nice Garlic notes in each bite.

Wonton Noodle Soup - Hong Kong Style:

With the demise of Noodle Boy (RIP), we don’t get out to the San Gabriel Valley enough to have found any real alternatives. Our SGV friends have all told us there is no replacement right now. :frowning:

Ho Kee’s Wonton Noodle Soup is no bueno. :frowning: Sam Woo’s average version is much better. The Wontons themselves taste overly briny (with a bad funky taste of unused Frozen Shrimp). The Noodles are decent. The Broth? Adequate. A far cry from Noodle Boy’s version.

Minced Beef with Raw Egg Porridge:

This was tasty. Good consistency in their Rice Porridge, the Minced Beef was tender and the overall flavor was balanced, not overly salty nor plain.

Ho Kee Cafe (Arcadia Branch)
558 Las Tunas Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 822-3399

Sunny Shine BBQ

Thanks to some FTC mentions about this place, we decided to also stop by Sunny Shine BBQ.

Roast Duck (Half):

Sunny Shine BBQ’s version of Hong Kong Roast Duck was fine. We thought it was slightly better than Ho Kee’s version, but like Ho Kee (and to be fair, every version in So Cal we’ve tried), it had soft, flabby Duck skin. :frowning:

The seasoning of the Roast Duck meat itself permeated to the bone and was nicely seasoned otherwise.

(Cash Only)

Sunny Shine BBQ
3948 Peck Rd., #7
El Monte, CA 91732
Tel: (626) 350-6838

Sam Woo BBQ (San Gabriel)

Watercress with Fish Ball Hot Pot:

Very good. I love Watercress and the inherent vegetal flavors were highlighted in this light Fish Broth with decent Fish Meatballs, a bit firmer than we would like. The Goji Berries, Ginger and Watercress were the highlights. :slight_smile:

House Special Pork with Preserved Vegetables:

Sam Woo BBQ’s version of Pork with Preserved Vegetables was downright bad. :frowning: Sitting on a bed of mainly Iceberg Lettuce(!), there was a paltry amount of actual Preserved Vegetables (maybe about 1 - 2 tablespoons) hidden underneath the Iceberg Lettuce. The flavor of the Preserved Vegetables tasted familiar, but average.

The Steamed Pork Belly was inedible: Super tough, stringy, and tasting like it was 2 or 3 day leftovers. :cry: We sent it back.

Sam Woo BBQ (San Gabriel)
937 E. Las Tunas Dr., Unit C
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 286-3118

Ruby BBQ (Revisit)

We still can’t get over the fact that the actual Chinese name of this place is a much cooler sounding “Nine Dragons BBQ” (according to our Chinese speaking friends), but we get the simpler sounding “Ruby BBQ” name in English. :sweat_smile:

In preparation to try Chef Johnny Lee’s version at Pearl River, we decided to stop by Ruby BBQ as well.

Pork with Preserved Vegetables:

A much more intense flavor from their Preserved Vegetables than either Ho Kee or Sam Woo. It’s incredible how these Sun-Dried Preserved Vegetables get so much flavor! The Steamed Pork Belly was unfortunately a touch too meaty, and not cooked down enough.

After trying out a few SGV places, we’d have to say Pearl River Deli’s version was our favorite.

Macau Special Pork:

One look at the Macau Special Pork (Roasted Pork Belly) and you can tell the difference. Crispy, crunchy Roasted Pork Skin, fresh-tasting, tender slivers of Pork underneath with lean and fat layers. Incredible! :heart:

Another Visit:

BBQ Duck (Half):

While all L.A. / O.C. versions of Hong Kong Roasted Duck lack any crispy skin, Ruby BBQ’s Roast Duck might be the best of the bunch. There’s good meaty tenderness, fresh-tasting Roast Duck meat, nice Duck Jus and enjoyable over Steamed Rice. A bit of the Plum Sauce adds pleasant sweetness to balance out the savory Duck flavors.

The Duck Skin might be soft, there’ve been times where there was just a hint of possible crispness, but still soft, but the color, lacquer are gorgeous, and the rest of the Duck meat itself and flavor is good. :slight_smile:

Macau Special Pork:

As ridiculous as always: Crispy-crunchy Roast Pork Skin, it is the best in L.A. that we’ve tried, and the standard to beat, @Chef @JLee. :slight_smile: We can’t wait to see Pearl River Deli come out with their versions of Roast Duck and Roasted Pork Belly. If they can get any version of Roast Duck with crispy skin, they will instantly be tops in So Cal. :slight_smile: If they can match or exceed Ruby BBQ’s Macau Special Pork (Belly), that’ll be legendary.

In the meantime, Ruby BBQ continues to excel at their Roast Pork Belly offering, an incredible, satisfying bite of pure porky bliss, and thankfully continues to survive during this pandemic for Takeout Only.

(Cash Only)

Ruby BBQ
9561 Garvey Ave., Suite 1 & 2
South El Monte, CA 91733
Tel: (626) 279-6854


9 Dragons refers to Kowloon, a HK neighborhood.

Just another Chinese restaurant where the English name is completely different from Chinese name.

I can probably count on one hand where the names match up in SGV lol

Thanks for the update. Noodle Boy’s broth and wontons are hard to beat. Good to hear about Ruby BBQ still killing it with crispy roast pork


Yup. I was gonna say that until I saw your reply.


Pork belly and preserved veg…that is very much a Grandma dish and best eaten at Grandmas House with plenty of rice! Most Canto or Taiwanese grandmas can make a kick ass version! Don’t pass up on a chance to eat

I bet Sea Harbour or Seafood Palace does a good version.


is there a specific reason you expect the duck skin to always be crispy?

Hi @blimpbinge,

Just wishful thinking. :wink: I remember eating an excellent version in Hong Kong (with crisped skin). Hearing our FTC veterans like @ipsedixit and others talk about versions they’ve had in Asia with crisped skin just makes me wish we had that here (but they explained the reason why it doesn’t exist).

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What’s the reason?

Because crispy skin is delicious and flabby duck skin is not


Hi @tailbacku,

This post (and the next few after it) explains it.

Yea I think the last time I had duck with crispy or near crispy skin was at the short lived “the kitchen” on valley next to baccali, and then also chuen hing in El monte

besides them, I don’t think all these local places are willing (or able, per those posts) to put in extra work for the skin.

even when when traveling in asia, I wouldn’t say all Canto bbq duck places had crispy skin, I imagine as time passes, it’ll continue to be the exception and not the norm

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Most places should have crispy skin on their ducks when they are done roasting. But as time passes, the skin gets soggy much like a croissant so it’s really not the restaurant’s fault.

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Thanks. Good point @moonboy403 :slight_smile:

Yes, the only place I found in the U.S. so far was at Ming Kee BBQ, and that we showed up first thing when they opened up. It was wonderful.

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Just want to echo what everyone who has covered ruby bbq says, this place consistently churns out the best sui-yuk in SoCal. I’m thinking about ordering a suckling pig from them.

Also generally we have such grumpy stereotypes of old Chinese restaurant workers, but the auntie who was the owner was so sweet. I was short on cash approximately 5 dollars for my 2.2 lbs of roast pork and she told me to not worry about it and come next time and just remind her and bring money to pay her back. Customer 4 life!!!


there are picks on this board that i am eternally indebted to FTC for and ruby bbq siu yuk is absolutely at the top of the list. the folks who did the legwork on this thread deserve a suckling pig


What a find

been researching local places to get takeout whole/half cantonese suckling pig like this: Crispy roast suckling pig - The boss insists on roasting the suckling pigs in person every day. - YouTube.

did a cursory search on yelp and I see reviewers refer siu yuk as suckling pig but i thought siu yuk is roast pork (not specifically suckling pig).

is ruby bbq the king for suckling pig as well?

I’m by-passing the DTLA area entirely tomorrow and just heading straight to the SGV. Friend and I want to try Ruby’s (our first time).

It seems like, if we’re going for an early dinner, we shouldn’t go b/f 5PM b/c we otherwise get leftovers from lunch?

Anything else highly recommended there, in addition to the roasted pork belly? Is this place cash-only?


I’m not sure if the constantly rotate their roasted meats. The earlier you go I would say likely the better the roast pork will be.

I think it’s cash only still.

Also I think this is a great situation for a bang bang so many good spots in the area.

Golden delight
Medan kitchen
Delicious food corner
Kim kee noodle
Banh mi my tho


We hit up at 5:30. Delish! Think the pork ribs might’ve actually been my favorite. Broth w/ the duck + noodles was lovely.