From February 9 to 17, I visited Hong Kong on a trip sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Here's a look at something I ate during my trip.
"And the goose. I could only make stupid noises after eating the goose."
I wish I had come up with the quote above, but no—I must thank Terance for so accurately describing the effect of eating Yat Lok's roast goose for the first time. My stupid noises were something like "Mmmmuuugheeghhh mmmmaaahhuuuggh," a mix of pained groans from my stomach being at 110 percent capacity and slurred moans of joy due to this beautiful thing:
That skin. Just look at that skin. Underneath a paper thin layer of delicate crispness is a cushion of super melty fat that seems to liquefy at first bite. Over 20 ingredients—brown sugar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, star anise, cloves, and more—contribute to its sweet and salty flavors. The skin may be a deep burnished brown, but to me it tasted like rainbows. Valium-infused rainbows. The rich, tender meat underneath is also great, but nothing can compete with the skin's heady combination of crisp-n-fat. This slow roasted goose leg happiness on rice can be yours for just HK$65 (about US$8.40).
But don't stop at goose; you also need to get Yat Lok's char siu (on rice, HK$39). For me, it was a roast pork revelation. Never before had I tasted char siu so tender and moist that it pretty much fell apart into meat kernels at the poke of my chopsticks. And never before had I eaten char siu that made me think, "I want to eat this all the time." (Admittedly, I don't eat char siu that often; most of my char siu-eating experiences have involved pork that's a bit too chewy and/or dry for my liking.) It goes down easily on its own, but it's even better with the accompanying ginger scallion sauce.
I didn't know until I got back home that Anthony Bourdain had visited Yat Lok (in Tai Po; I went to the location in Central) for his Hong Kong episode of No Reservations. His last word on their roast goose: "That's worth flying all the way to Hong Kong for." ...I don't know if I'd go that far, but I understand where's he's coming from. Besides, he was probably in a state of roast goose-induced delirium when he said that.
Thanks to Michael Poon and Rachel Balota for bringing me to Yat Lok.
Yat Lok Restaurant (一樂食館)
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