This is the final post in my triptych (perhaps an over ambitious description) of posts on the restaurants you “must” go to when you visit Hong Kong. And out of all of them Yung Kee is the one people will rave about the most. Which is a shame as it is a mercenary experience which leaves you feeling a bit used at the end (even if the food is good).
Yung Kee, in case you haven’t been to Hong Kong, is where you go for (i) century egg and (ii) roast goose. It is eminent enough to have its own Wikipedia page (like Mak’s Noodles) and has been serving its goose from at least 1942 onwards. You can apparently even get their century eggs in 1st class on Cathay Pacific. Oh and it has got a Michelin star.
Like any brand it offers a tiered experience. You can eat with the proles on floors 1 to 3, VIP it on the 4th floor or ultra VIP it in the members’ club on the 6th. This is a review of floors 1 to 3 where I have now been several times and wouldn’t really go again. The 4th floor I will save for when I get dragged back every time a visitor comes to town.
The big problem with it is that Yung Kee wants to get you in and out. It wants you to snack on a century egg, order its roast goose and fuck off. Take your pre-conceptions of Michelin starred service, bin them and think back to that last shonky serviced meal you had in any Chinatown round the world; that is what you will be getting. Ironically what I felt like each time I have been there is a mass manufactured tourist; stacked and processed a bit like the geese that are brought to your table.
First, century egg, preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, millennium egg or horse urine egg. I am in two minds about this. I have never had one before and *think* I enjoy them. Jen has shouted “Emperor’s new clothes” at me but I dispute that. It is a cultural artifact of a dish that, in small quantities, is still enjoyable. It is a frightening prospect to look at; every colour an egg shouldn’t be and with a faint wiff. The flavour is astringent and punchy with the yolk creamy and soft. But what is truly different is that your palette gets hit with a shot of ammonia half way which is completely shocking to Westerners. Overall I am for them, but only occasionally.
Second, roast goose. Well this is the reason Yung Kee is loved and respected. The problem is on each time I have been the goose has come out late, it has been sitting around, it is a touch clammy, a bit cold. This leaves you with the end notes of its pungent aroma and a slightly saggy experience. Coupled with the fact that your rice and sides might be brought out at any time ten to twenty minutes either before or after you get the goose… this is not a complete experience.
- Price – 700hkd for two with goose and eggs
- 2-40 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong