Queue up early for storied Hong Kong eatery

The Bangkok edition can seat up to 120 guests and is the seven-year-old Hong Kong brand’s largest outlet in the world.

The queue for tables at Kam’s Roast Bangkok on Feb 12, the first day it opened in Thailand, was phenomenal.

Cantonese cuisine enthusiasts and roasted meat lovers were drawn into this Hong Kong-style barbecue restaurant for its star-studded specialities.

Roast goose, roast duck, honey-glazed barbecued pork belly and soya chicken, which graced the display facade of the kitchen, are the menu highlights.

Established in Hong Kong in 2014, Kam’s Roast might seem like a young player in the island’s long-running and revered arena of Cantonese roasts.

Interestingly, just four months after the opening in Hong Kong, it won a Michelin star and has continued to retain it for seven consecutive years.

Kam’s Roast kitchen team is, in fact, no novice. The team has derived from one of Hong Kong’s most-famous roast masters, Yung Kee.

The classic roast duck.

Hardy Kam Shun-yuen, the owner of Kam’s Roast, is a son of Yung Kee’s founder, Kam Shui Fai, who started the business 79 years ago.

The family’s recipes and cooking techniques have been passed on as its culinary fame extended outside of Hong Kong, to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Bangkok edition, which is 315m² and has a seating capacity of 120 guests, is the brand’s largest restaurant in the world.

The menu, just like at its original restaurant in Hong Kong, revolves around the barbecue specialities. There are a decent selection of side items and a few choices of noodle dishes.

Unfortunately the restaurant’s signature roast goose won’t be available until May due to the brand’s strict policy to ensure perfect quality and high standards, I was told.

It is best at this very first stage to avoid peak hours, unless you don’t mind the waiting and the crowd.

The wholesome and comforting wonton noodles.

Guests are treated, upon seating, to a complimentary soup of the day. On the day I visited it was a piping hot lotus root soup.

Avid fans of poultry are recommended to try both of the restaurant’s signature duck dishes: the classic roast duck and the pipa duck.

The roast duck (1,288 baht for a whole duck; 688 baht for a half; 380 baht for the dark meat “lower” quarter and 350 baht for the white meat “upper” quarter) scrumptiously lived up to the restaurant’s culinary legacy. The duck was said to require a three-day preparation process from seasoning, air-drying and roasting.

Thick slices of the succulent duck came with its supple skin intact and light gravy dressing.

Thanks to the aroma, taste and texture, from the very first bite the poultry pleasantly reminded me of a familiar full-flavoured feast at a great barbecue joint in Hong Kong.

The orange-peel marinated pipa duck.

The pipa duck (1,388 baht for a whole duck; and 398 baht for a small portion), on the other hand, offered a rather new taste profile.

Taking its name from Chinese lute (aka pipa) because of its look, the dish features a whole duck flattened and marinated in a sauce and spice blended with premium 23-year aged Mandarin orange peel before being roasted over flame.

When served, the glossy golden-brown skin of the duck provided a very crispy texture. While the meat was sweetly-fragrant and toothsome.

When it comes to honey-glazed barbecued pork, the restaurant takes its pride in “toro char siu” prepared with pork belly (380 baht).

It’s a to-die-for dish should you be in for a soft, juicy and deliciously fatty barbecue pork. Otherwise, there’s a leaner version, the classic char siu (320 baht).

Honey-glazed barbecued pork belly, aka ‘toro char siu’.

Kam’s crispy roasted pork (350 baht), showcasing thin crackly skin and fat-layered meat, was also delightful.

The barbecue specialities were enjoyed with or without the condiments. The Hong Kong-style mustard promised the characteristically pungent horseradish taste while the specially concocted plum sauce was so good I could just eat it on its own.

For the side items, marinated black fungus with vinegar (60 baht), marinated cucumber with vinegar, garlic, chillies and a touch of sesame oil (90 baht) and soft and silky marinated tofu (80 baht) are ideal. All three of them proved to nicely enhance the meal by giving a complementing contrast to the meat courses.

A Hong Kong-style barbecue meal is never complete without a plate of flash-poached Hong Kong kai lan with oyster sauce (160 baht). The vegetable dish here proved top-notch thanks to its naturally sweet and crisp fresh quality.

The crackly roast pork.

The restaurant is a worthwhile destination for noodle fans.

Its best-selling wonton noodles (240 baht) can be ordered in a soup or dry. The super-fine egg noodles, imported from Hong Kong, were cooked to perfection and exhibited a bouncily stringy texture. The plump dumplings, which came atop the noodles, were tightly stuffed with whole shrimp and offered a wholesome and comforting mouthfeel. While the subtly delicate broth marvellously gave to the dish a soothing finish.

Braised noodles with shrimp roe (180 baht) is also a highlight. Accompanying the noodles, sprinkled with a salty mixture of dried shrimp roe, a Guangdong speciality, is an aromatic bowl of soup made with dried fish and seafood stock.

Service on the day that I visited was brisk and enjoyable but could be improved with a larger crew especially front of house.

For more privacy, there are two 10-seat private rooms and can be connected together.

The braised noodles with Guangdong-style shrimp roe.