The 'black' char siew at Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint | Photo: Julia Khoo
This roast meat stall founded in 1974 made headlines last year, when Ha Wai Kay, in his 60s, and his wife, Betty Kong, 67, announced their intention to sell their secret Cantonese recipe for $2 million and shop for $1.5 million. No one was able to match their asking price, which could be a blessing.
Ha first opened shop on Keong Saik Street, following in the footsteps of his father, who came to Singapore from Guangzhou, China in 1931. The senior Ha operated his own roast meat stall in Chinatown from 1940s to 1960s, and was the one who taught Ha the unique Zhujiang style of roasting meats. This translates to a darker-than-most char siew (barbecued pork), made by using dark soy sauce to baste the roasting meat.
Kong now runs the business with her husband, fronting the shop while the discreet Ha marinates and roasts the meats. And what a good job he does: their bestseller 'black' char siew is sinfully charred, succulent and flavourful, while the roast duck is all crisp skin and tender meat.
The roast pork – with its crispy crackling and tasty meat – is also well-executed. Kong says the meats taste so good because they don’t skimp on ingredients. The char siew is made with pork from the armpit of the pig, which is prized for its fatty and bouncy texture. For the marinade, they use premium dark soy sauce and herbs. From $4 a plate, we say that’s a bargain.
Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint is one of Singapore's 12 hawker heroes who could be pitted against celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in SingTel's Hawker Heroes challenge. Vote for themhere.
EXCLUSIVE TO HUNGRYGOWHERE USERS: Secure a pair of tickets to front-row seats at Gordon Ramsay's cook-off with SingTel's Hawker Heroes. Enter the contest here.
Write a review here| Address: 125 Upper Paya Lebar Road | Tel: 67438778 | Opening hours: Wed-Sun 10.30am-4pm
Food writer Julia Khoo has been a regular contributor to inSing.com since its launch in 2009. Her obsession for writing and photographing all things epicurean is lovingly documented in her long-running food blog, AromaCookery, making her one of the most established food bloggers in Singapore.