76-78 Liverpool St
Sydney, NSW 2000
As obnoxious as the term may sound, I consider myself to be a flexitarian, which is really just a buzzy way of saying that I’m semi-vegetarian. For those of you who’ve read a few posts on my blog, this may seem like a big fat, juicy, meaty lie. But even taking into account the one or two times where I go out to eat, I probably don’t have meat more than 4 or 5 times out of the total of 30-odd meals I have each week. Mind you, this wasn’t so much of a conscious decision on my part as a combination of a lack of time, and seeing one-too-many limbs amputated due to diabetes at the hospital, but I have to admit that I’m feeling better than I ever have as a result of it. Just don’t tell my mum – as someone who’s been known to fry up 5kg of pork at a time for a family of 4, she would take the lack of meat in my diet as a personal attack.
Occasionally however, I do end up craving a big plate of carnivorous goodness, and that’s where BBQ King comes into the picture. This stalwart had been a Chinatown fixture for 33 years, before moving to its fancy 3-storey digs in 2016. And although not everyone would agree that it’s the king, most will concede that it’s one of the best places in town for your char siu and roast duck.
Despite its spruced up surroundings, BBQ King is anything but stuffy. The bright and clean space feels just as appropriate for a quick lunch time feed as it does for a big family gathering. Everything is overseen by a battalion of grim-faced old Asian men, yet somehow they manage to be welcoming despite never cracking a smile, nor saying more than 2 words at any one time.
Along with our menu and pot of strong black tea, we were served a bowl of House Soup to sip on as we decided what to order. I usually love the soups at these sorts of places, as they tend to be so full of flavour, and much better than their freebie status should warrant. This was no exception, the light stock boasting a complex herbal aroma, underscoring the rich meatiness you can only get from hours of slow simmering.
My favourite item to order at Chinese BBQ is the Roast Pork and Rice ($15), and this is about as good as they came. The meat and thin layer of fat were melt-in-the-mouth tender, whilst the crackling was so crunchy you could probably hear someone biting into it from the across the room.
The Roast Duck and Rice ($15) was no slouch either, the skin glossy and crisp, hiding firm, juicy meat underneath. The sweet soy sauce drizzled on top was downright addictive mixed into the fluffy white rice.
BBQ King has been around for 37 years – much longer than I have – but does that mean that it’s good? Luckily in this case, the answer is yes. Although I can’t vouch for the entirety of the enormous menu, the BBQ we had on the day we visited were top notch. It is definitely on the slightly more expensive side of things, but given the CBD location and the excellent house soup thrown in for free, I think it’s a fair price. And whilst I’m always on the lookout for something better, BBQ King is an option that I am happy to keep up my sleeve.
Rating: 13.5/20 – BBQ royalty.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.