Tender chunks of beef brisket soaked in a meticulously simmered clear herbal broth — the quintessential Hong Kong comfort.
There are Facebook groups for just about anything these days, and locating the best beef brisket in Hong Kong happens to be one of them. The Beef Brisket Concern Group judges the best bowls according to a stringent list including freshness of beef, richness in broth and the well-measured balanced between the two. On the flip-side are long-time chefs who credit a good bowl of beef brisket down to the availability of a premium cut and plain good cooking.
Beef brisket is served in many ways in Hong Kong restaurants. You can get them as a topping over a steaming bowl of noodles at your neighbourhood spot or dunked in warm, soupy casseroles of Hong Kong-style curries. But the most rudimentary serves are those carefully butchered brisket cubes bobbing upon the surface of a crystal-clear broth (清湯腩). Each restaurant does a preferred cut — mostly short rib or skirt — and perfects a slow-simmered soup base with a long list of herbs and ingredients following generation-long recipes of their own. A deceivingly simple dish that usually takes hours to make.
The criteria are not as exhaustive here, but they are a considerable group of names that address the essential components of a good beef brisket. Should you long for a warm soupy bowl with perfectly chewy tender chunks, here’s where to go.
Kau Kee (九記牛腩)
If you’ve been down Central’s Gough Street, you’d spot a queue first at Zagin Soba, and then further beyond, a longer stretch that snakes down the steps to Kau U Fong. That’s Kau Kee, or otherwise known as the home of Hong Kong’s best beef brisket. With 90 years of experience — and a Michelin Recommended designation — Kau Kee is know for the perfectly balanced cuts of beef that’s soft, tender and stewed to perfection. For first-time visits, come for the brisket in clear soup, otherwise, their signature curry broth is also a delicious must-order.
Kau Kee, 21 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong +852 2850 5967
Sister Wah (華姐清湯腩)
Tin Hau-native Sister Wah is another Michelin Recommended destination known for its extremely tender cuts of beef brisket. But as delicious as the beefy chunks may be — only made with local beef — what Sister Wah does best is their clear beef broth. A savoury consommé that’s fragrant with beef extract and over 10 different kinds of spice, the umami broth is topped off with chopped scallions and cubed daikons for added sweetness. Come for, of course, an order of the beef brisket in clear broth before making your way through other orders on the menu.
Sister Wah, 13A Electric Road, Tin Hau, Hong Kong, +852 2807 0181
Eight Treasures (八寶清湯腩)
Once upon a time located in Hung Hom, Eight Treasures made the move to Tin Hau and so did its band of loyal followers. The availability of the range of cuts — honeycomb tripe and beef tongue — is a much-appreciated feature of the venue, with popular cuts of short rib and skirt steak prone to selling out by 1pm. When you do make the executive decision on a particular beef cut, pay extra attention to the beloved broth, slow simmered for over 10 hours with beef bones and eight herbs varietals.
Eight Treasures, G/F, Wing Wah Building, 124 Electric Road, Tin Hau, Hong Kong, +852 2889 8366
Shui Kee (水記)
Hidden away in the back alleys of busy Central in a small, street-side shack is Shui Kee. It’s the well-kept secret of fervent beef brisket fans in the Hong Kong Beef Brisket Concern Group, reserved only for the most discerning brisket connoisseurs. Once you do discover its obscure location, you’ll be rewarded by Shui Kee’s beautifully marbled cuts of beef, afloat over a bowl of silky noodles in a delicate broth. The menu is simple, a 60-year tried and true favourite of four core beef cuts that typically sells out by noon. They close early — 5pm — and don’t open on Saturdays, so if you were planning on visiting, you’ve just got to make your schedule work for them.
Shui Kee, 2 Gutzlaff Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2541 9769
As Hong Kong first — and only — dedicated outpost to beef brisket, WOWCOW is a newly opened venue in the residential neighbourhood of To Kwa Wan. The chef is said to be a master sifu, once helming the kitchens of another famous beef brisket spot that has unfortunately shuttered. Here, the menu is a collection of classic beef brisket noodle orders, with their specialty being the skirt skirt that’s prepared in limited bowls daily. Gently stewed for rich, master-stock aromatics, WOWCOW’s beef are of a golden ratio balance of fat to meat, and is the perfect accompaniment to their noodles — soupy or mixed.
WOWCOW, Shop 5, G/F, Faerie Court, 72-88 Ko Shan Road, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2777 7237
Lead image courtesy of Sister Wah
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