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Chinese BBQ turkeys in San Jose

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Drove by Ton Tho Tuong this afternoon and in addition to some luscious-looking ducks in the window, they had a large banner advertising Chinese BBQ turkeys for Thanksgiving. I might just have to go for it.

Ton Tho Tuong
505 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

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  1. You know, I see those signs at various Cantonese barbecue stands each Thanksgiving and I've never tried one. I'd love to hear your opinion if you try it. In past years, Cheung Hing in Millbrae has offered turkey too.

    Cheung Hing Restaurant
    245 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

    8 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Melanie, I was given a piece from our favorite Chinese deli to show how well they cooked theirs. It was petty dry and not that flavorful. They do it once a year and may not have the skill to get it right so that it is still moist. They hang them the large oven and a lot of the juice just drops out of the bird.

      I think the old fashion way of brine and cooking is normal oven is the best. But I too would like to see if they have gotten better. I turned down his offer the past two years but maybe I will try it this year again.

      1. re: yimster

        Thanks, I've noticed that some places will sell a half or quarter of a turkey. Given Cantonese folks fondness for dark meat, I'm wondering who buys the breasts?!?

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Which why I was given a piece of the breast. It was dry and mostly tasteless. I for one would not buy something I can do better.

          1. re: yimster

            I stopped by this afternoon to get a piece of roast pig for tonight's dinner and to make sticky rice stuffing for thursday. Guess I'm highly suggestible. Anyway, the sign for roast turkey orders was up at Cheung Hing in millbrae along with a photograph of nicely browned bird in aluminum roasting pan lined with parsley. The price per pound is $3.49 or $3.99 (can't remember exactly) and can be ordered in advance.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              The bird will look wonderful but tasting is not looking. Believe me you will do much better if you make one yourself.

              1. re: yimster

                I wondered about this. The hot Chinese ovens seem more suited to the fatty meats (pork, duck) than to turkey, which is pretty lean.

      2. re: Melanie Wong

        Today I saw a sign in Yung Kee (Oakland, corner of 9th and Webster) that said "Barbecue your turkey, $28". I inferred that you supply the bird, and then they cook it for you for $28.

        I purchased half a soy-sauce chicken, which two of us devoured for lunch. It was succulent and juicy. How about soy-sauce turkey?

        Yung Kee Restaurant
        888 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

        1. re: Joel

          If you have time on Thursday morning, you might want to wander around Chinatown to see if you spot a roast turkey hanging in any of those windows. It's quite a sight to see a bird that's 5x or more larger on a hook next to the chickens and ducks.

      3. Yet another BBQ joint with turkey heard from: Wing Lee on Clement in San Francisco.

        Wing Lee BBQ Restaurant
        501 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

        1. I had a couple of bites of some barbecued turkey from somewhere in SF Chinatown today -- one of the interns at my office brought it in, knowing of my interest. She didn't get a whole turkey, the restaurant was selling it as a lunch plate with a few slices of breast meat packaged with some sticky rice with vegetable stuffing. The good news: it wasn't dry. The bad news: it wasn't dry because it was somewhat undercooked. And unfortunately the skin had been removed -- which is a very large point of the rationale for eating turkey in my opinion. Flavor was okay, but I think I would rather just get a nice duck or two...with the fat and the crispy skin on please!

          1. Only one place in Oakland's Chinatown had turkey today, Gum Wah on 9th. It was selling for $3.25 lb. At 3:30 pm I stopped in and the conversation went like this ...

            Do you still have turkey?
            You want whole turkey?
            We no have turkey

            Okie Dokie. The shop itself didn't look all that appealing anyway. I'm sure those whole birds are going to be selling big-time tommorrow. Trader Vic's in Emeryville was serving Chinese style turkey as part of its buffet but I was elswere.

            1. Huong Lan Sandwiches on Tully road has a Chinese bbq counter for take-out. When I was in there last night, it had signs up offering turkey for $38. Didn't see one.

              Huong Lan Sandwiches
              1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

              1. Curiously, I have often seen and wondered about, during Thanksgiving only, year after year, turkeys hanging from BBQ stations in Chinatown. However, I have not had an occasion to try or have been tempted to try nor have I known anyone who has. What I have not seen is people lining up to anxiously purchase said product. I get the impression that roast turkey done in a Chinese hanging, roasting oven is far from a popular item as compared to the usual favorites as char sieu, roast pig and roast duck! BTW, I have not even encounter turkey used as an ingredient in Chinese cooking.

                Then, there is also deep fired whole turkey and there has been lots of turkey deep fryer equipment put up for sale to do that. The amount of hot cooking oil required to do that is enough to deter me from doing it. I have tried deep frying turkey wings and drumsticks when they are occasionally available in the markets and it doesn’t seem to offer anything’s above good old fried chicken or fried chicken wings.

                For the home cook, I believe the best alternative to traditional roast turkey in the oven to be brining and smoking the turkey. It is easily done outdoors, doesn’t mess up the oven indoor, and adds a whole new flavorful dimension to turkey!

                2 Replies
                1. re: CYL

                  Wow !! Nice job of cutting it up.

                  1. re: CYL

                    Your smoked turkey looks great! Totally agree - it's a great way to do the turkey.