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May 5, 2010 01:37 PM

Lechon/roast pork

I made a (failed) attempt at lunch at Joyce Jiaozi on Joyce today. Bad sign was walking up and seeing the "open sign" not lit. Inside was dark but I saw a lady inside doing some cleaning. Knocked on door and she came to open it, and told me they *may* be open for lunch on Friday, but had this real tentative tone it. I thanked her and left disappointed (wanted to try their "rou jiao mo" before their rumored closure).

Walked north and saw Joyce BBQ, with an adjacent Manila Lechon sign. Hmmm, very curious so I walked in and realize it was the place referenced in some recent Chowtimes threads. The pig looked moist and succulent. There was quite a line so I didn't stay long. Damn if they'd only offer the BBQs with plain rice-to-go !!

Will have to go back and investigate more closely.

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  1. I have been there. I was there one Saturday around noon. They only had a bit of the back part of the pig left. The lechon tasted good, but it was a few hours old at the time. The problem with Filipino lechon is you have to get it right after it has come off the spit or the oven. It doesn't have that crispy honeycombed skin that Chinese Roast pork has. Once a Filipino lechon cools down a bit, the crispiness disappears and the underlying skin becomes chewy.

    Chinese sui yuk with the myriad of bubbles throughout the cross-section of the skin tends to keep "crispy" (though that really isn't the appropriate word for this texture.) It just keeps better than Filipino lechon.

    26 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      For comparison: here is the excellent Parker Place BBQ's siu yuk. (I ordered it "fatty"). Look at the skin - it has bubbles all the way through. Unlike the Filipino style lechon which (stylistically)has smooth skin. Bubbles are anathema to the Filipino style of roasting pig.

      1. re: fmed

        Sheesh, I can drool all over my keyboard now.

        So what's the basic cooking difference between lechon and siu yook ?

        1. re: LotusRapper

          Lechon is cooked lower and longer. The heat is set low so it doesn't blister the skin.

          Siu Yuk ovens are set higher and the skin is deliberately blistered...ideally in a controlled fashion so that the skin blistering propagates all the way through the dermal layer.

          Cooking times depend on the ovens, but as a ballpark estimate, Lechon takes about 30-50% longer than Siu Yuk.

          Edit: also to add that Filipino lechon does not use five-spice salt in its preparation.

          1. re: fmed

            have heard some Chinese rub vinegar on the skin..

            1. re: betterthanbourdain

              Some Filipino lechon gets vinegar rubdown. Other tricks include baking soda rub, lye rub, pin pricks, etc.

              1. re: fmed

                Easy now, boys, this thread is starting to sound more massage parlour than BBQ bantering ;-). Regardless, it is making me crave some crispy dermal layer! Any thoughts on where best to sample either lechon or siu yuk in Vancouver?

                1. re: grayelf

                  For Chinese roast pork (siu yuk): Parker Place BBQ (Richmond), HK BBQ Master (Richmond), Kam Gok Yuen (Chinatown), Dollar Meat (Chinatown).

                  For Filipino - there really isn't anywhere I think does a good one.

                  1. re: fmed

                    Thanks fmed -- imagine my delight to see a couple of places in Chinatown listed! I've tried this pork at random places there with uneven results. KGY and $M are now top of the list.

                    I kinda thought that would be your answer after our discussion at the Pinpin mini down but hope springs eternal.

                    Pinpin Restaurant
                    6113 Fraser St, Vancouver, BC V5W 2Z9, CA

                    1. re: grayelf

                      grayelf, we've been looking for lechon for a long, long time (more than 15 years) and have by now given up the search. Now, I just have Cantonese roast pork. Of that genre, fmed picked two of our favourites in Richmond. :) HK BBQ Master's is just exquisite.

                      1. re: _js_

                        Now I am really sad _js_ -- but I have a plan that involves bribing fmed to make lechon for us all one day. We will need a lot of money but I think we can do it :-).

                        I'll be trying the Chinatown places for sure but I've added all the names to my "to try" list.

                        1. re: grayelf

                          KGY has great roast pork, bbq meats and wonton. Manila Lechon is so inconsistent. Sometimes crispy skin, sometimes totally devoid of any crunch and only soggy. Yet, I'm there every week for at least one order.

                        2. re: _js_

                          _js_ have you tried ordering it "Filipino Style" at Money BBQ on Fraser? (All it means is they use plain salt vs five-spice salt.)? It is good - but not Lechon. I also spied a Vietnamese grocer on Hastings and Nanaimo (same side of the street as Seri Malaysia) that purports to sell Filipino style Lechon.

                          1. re: fmed

                            fmed, I think Money BBQ on Fraser was where we ordered our last lechon-that-is-not-lechon. I'll check out that Vietnamese grocer one of these days.

                            grayelf, I've half a mind to dig up our so-called garden (where plants go to die) and build a pit instead. Of course we still need a lechonero. :)

                            1. re: _js_

                              Calling Fmed de Lechonero ............

                            2. re: fmed

                              Thanks, fmed, for the recommendation.

                              We finally had occasion to buy a whole lechon for a party yesterday. We bought it off Viet Thanh Market (E Hastings and Nanaimo). The lechon was good: the guests were pretty satisfied with the result. The skin was not smooth on the outside (still blistered), but the fat was rendered off and it was crispy (although not all parts of the skin was crispy). We had them chop the pig up (costs an extra 10), but they did put it back together and put the skin back on top so it still looked like a whole pig.

                              I thought that the lechon would be left to languish but at the end of the night we were left with the head and trotters and only about 3 pounds of the pig -- so we made pretty good headway.

                              1. re: _js_

                                Thanks for the report. Do you prefer the lechon from Viet Thahn over Money BBQ? What will you do with the head and feet? Paksiw?

                                (PS I just realized that this is where the now closed Viet Thahn at Kingsway and Fraser must have moved to.)

                                1. re: _js_

                                  you wouldn't by chance have any pics?

                                  1. re: betterthanbourdain

                                    It's been so long since we've had the one from Money BBQ that I can't give an opinion.

                                    I'll try to take pictures of head and trotters, and the leftover meat, a bit later. Will probably try to make paksiw but have to get that Mang Tomas sauce first. Viet Thanh gave us two bottles gratis with the lechon but it's all gone. Seems like people were drinking that stuff!

                              2. re: _js_

                                HK BBQ Master could be my favourite, actually...look at this beauty:

                                1. re: fmed

                                  Okay, my top three:

                                  HK BBQ Master is my favorite. Love that super thick, crunchy skin. The picture above captures it perfectly. (I kinda have a crush on the girl that's always working the counter, too).

                                  Second place is Parker Place Meat & BBQ. Also really like the char siu there.

                                  And third, um... maybe the RPM butcher shop, which I settle for, because it's close and not bad at all.

                                  1. re: fmed

                                    Oh dear...I really need to stop looking on Chow first thing in the morning. You guys are always making me hungry and drooling at my desk is so embarassing....

                              3. re: fmed

                                Is Dollar Meat = Money BBQ & Fresh Meat at the corner of Keefer & Pender ?

                                Is their other outlet on Pender still open ?

                                What about Top King BBQ & Meat (next to Money) also on Pender ?

                                Top Kings Restaurant & Cafe
                                10294 135 St, Surrey, BC V3T4C2, CA

                                1. re: LotusRapper

                                  This one

                                  Are they closed?

                                  Money is on Fraser St.

                                  edit: Haven't had Top King BBQ.

                                  1. re: fmed

                                    So not:


                                    Oh the one on Fraser, I know which one you mean now. I poked my head in last week. Their eating side (south side) is renovated now with real tables and chairs, much more inviting.

                                    1. re: LotusRapper

                                      No..but they make a good one too.