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Chinatown Crispy Suckling Pig shoot out

All these threads about whole roasted suckling pig leave my mouth watering, but unfortunately I don't know enough pig-eaters to justify buying a whole one (believe me, I have tried. Even my friends who do eat pork shudder at the idea of seeing the head).

However, I thought it would be worth a trip to Hong Kong Eatery and Quik-Pic to see how their always-available pork dishes compare to each other. My husband's birthday is coming up in two weeks, and we wanted to do some preparatory research (it's a dirty job, but...). We had already taste tested the pernil at La Lechonera and Cafe Latino (we preferred the latter, finding the former kind of dried out; maybe it was a bad day).

So now it was time to see how it's done in Chinatown. We got Crispy Pork from Quik-Pic and the equivalent at Hong Kong Eatery, and both agreed that hands down, Quik-Pic was the winner: more flavorful meat and skin, and the meat was moister as well. By the way, if one were going to do a whole suckling pig, it's about $188 at Quik-Pic and (if I understand correctly) about twice that (for a 20 lb pig) at HKE. We also tried the BBQ pork at HKE and did not like that at all--we found it very uninspired.

Your mileage may vary, as may your tastebuds!

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  1. "crispy pork" at Quik-Pic gets you suckling pig like this?

    http://nextfoodstop.files.wordpress.c...

    how much for that half-pig type presentation? or does the $188 include the non-skin parts too?

    7 Replies
    1. re: Luther

      Crispy pork was available as pieces of pork shoulder (?), and we paid by the pound, but if I understood properly $188 gets you a whole pig, head and all. That's what their picture looked like, in the front of their building, and I am pretty certain that was the price listed! I don't know if they do half-pigs or not.

      A Chowhound here named EATTV posted about doing a whole pig roast from Quik-Pic (his thread was called Chinatown Pig Out, 8/8/2011); someone in that thread asked him the price, but there was no reply to that question. Still, both my husband and I walked away saying "wow, $188, so much less that HKE..."

      1. re: calisson

        I procured the puerco with Sir EATTV and IIRC it was $188 for a piglet around 18# - whole hog served hacked up with the head in tact.

        1. re: Nab

          Did you think it was amazingly good too, Nab?

        2. re: calisson

          When I hear "suckling pig" I think of that really mini thing I linked that's served as a plate of crispy skin. Are we talking about that or just roast pork in general?

          1. re: Luther

            Although a sow could theoretically nurse piglets to 20+ lbs, you would have a fairly unhappy sow nursing 10 such pigs and I wouldn't expect its commercially feasible even for boutique farmers. 18-25lbs pigs were weaned long before being slaughtered and in my opinion should be called roasting pigs. Suckling pig is more expensive per-lb too.

            1. re: Luther

              Luther--maybe I'm just talking about whole roasted pork!

        3. if you get the crispy pork from HKE, best to specify "center cut" to get the better stuff, otherwise they will likely give you end cut which is drier. Similarly, if you get the BBQ pork at HKE, if you specify "fatty" (a different cut, not sure which) the result tends to be juicier/ tastier. That being said, Quik Pic does seem to produce moister meat and better skin than HKE on average, although it can vary widely depending on time of day etc. My understanding was that Quik Pic no longer does true baby pig but maybe they now can get it again?

          4 Replies
          1. re: barleywino

            Barleywino, thanks for those clarfications. And actually, I don't know if it's baby pig at all, but the woman who was helping us at Quik-Pic said they do whole pigs, pointed to the picture outside, and reiterated the price. Maybe some places use the term "suckling" rather loosely? As in, "Nah, not really still suckling, but yummy anyway"?

            I am curious about places like Posto, where a pig dinner is $325. They do not specify suckling pig on their website, so it's probably not. But "Whole Wood Oven Roasted Pig, Locally raised VT pig, sage & chestnut stuffing, rosemary roasted potatoes, citrus & fennel salad $325, Serves 10-15 people family style" sure sounds amazing!

            1. re: calisson

              I've read and re-read MichaelB's report on the Posto piggy so many times but I've yet to get there:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7449...

                1. re: Nab

                  Hah - the thread lives! Posto's pig is definitely delicious but most definitely not suckling pig. Good reminder though - worth another trip!

            2. I tried Quik-Pic when they first opened, but not since. And I have tried every new Chinatown bbq and noodle place. I always return to HKE. For me, it remains the one that has the most *authentic* HK style bbq and noodle plates. But their other dishes are sub-par when compared to a few Chinatown eateries'.

              HKE's crispy skinned bbq pig by the pound comes in both "adult" and suckling (when available). The suckling is a lot more expensive, for good reasons. For those who can tell the difference, it is worth every penny and count themselves lucky when a suckling is hanging in the window. In pricier Chinese (wedding) banquets, only sucking is served, never adult. That dish alone would account for a sizable portion of the whole bill. Luther's pic (yes, it should be VERY small in size) makes my mouth water, as did every time one appeared in a Bourdain or Zimmerman show. It is that good and special.

              Since I have never ordered a whole pig from either Quik-Pic or HKE, I cannot comment on their price difference. But I expect a HKE suckling to be a lot more expensive than an adult. $188 for a 20lb pig comes out to be less than $10 per pound. That is way below what HKE charges for suckling by the pound. There are several ways to get to the bottom of this.

              - If Quik-Pic has suckling by the pound, what is their price?

              - Check out the prices of adult and suckling at other bbq places, by the pound and whole.

              - Take along a Chinese speaker as an interpreter. Yeah, it's a dirty job, but a few hounds here would gladly volunteer for a good course (especially if it comes with a free tasting lunch :-)).

              9 Replies
              1. re: eatntell

                Well, one thing is that it's not at all clear that Quic-Pic is offering SUCKLING pig for that price.

                1. re: calisson

                  at least the times I've asked, neither HKE nor QP offered suckling by the pound, although HKE may list it on their board. QP used to offer suckling pig whole but when I asked a few months back, they said they could no longer get hold of them (they were all going to South America, they said), only small regular pigs. .

                  1. re: barleywino

                    HKE also told us that they did not offer suckling pig by the pound. So the title of this thread actually should have been "Chinatown Crispy Pig (Siu Yuk) shoot out," since clearly nothing we ate was from a a suckling pig. I've learned something along the way!

                    1. re: calisson

                      Yep all Chinese roast meat places that I know of do not offer suckling pig by the pound. It's a dish usually reserved for special occasions, and normally requires special ordering.

                      1. re: kobuta

                        In boston, anyway... some other cities, one can order a dish of it (e.g. Koi palace (SF), Noodles (LV), Kirin (vancouver) to name just a couple examples). NY Noodletown used to sometimes have it, haven't been recently to check

                        1. re: barleywino

                          Agree it is a dish missing in our Chinese in Boston. For those unfamiliar, suckling pig (Yee Gee) is wonderfully tender and juicy with minimal fat and a great crispy thin reddish mahogany skin. It's usually about twice the price per pound as roast pork (siu yuk), which can also be delicious of course. It's just a very different experience. Other than Chinese banquets, dim sum places can offer a plate of this, but not seen it in Boston.

                          1. re: gourmaniac

                            It may have been a temporary experiment, but I remember one of the dim sum places here offering suckling pig once and a cart rolled by with a few dishes. Was no where near as good as I've had it. It was definitely one of the dim sum places in Boston, but darned if I can remember which one. Was probably within the last 2-3 years, but not a recent experience.

                    2. re: barleywino

                      Not ALL sucklings have gone to South America. Besides there doesn't seem to be any agreement what separates a small pig from a suckling.

                      I was at HKE for lunch a few days ago, and got this from them about ordering whole pigs:

                      Large: 31lb and up at $6.95 per lb.
                      Medium: 26 - 30lb at $7.95 per lb.
                      Medium: 21 - 25lb at $8.95 per lb.
                      Small (suckling): 17 - 20lb at $17.00 per lb.

                      They claimed that they are much better than QP, but of course!