Joys of the Flesh

You Don't Have to Leave the Loop for Stellar Chinese Barbecue

Siu Lap City is the Midtown siu mei spot of your dreams.

By Alice Levitt December 31, 2018

Roasted pork, duck and cabbage over fried rice.

Image: Alice Levitt

If you abhor lines, it's best to get to Siu Lap City early. By 11:30 a.m. or so, hungry lunch-rushers begin queuing out the door. It's an image right out of the hawker stalls of Singapore's Chinatown, the last place I had really excellent Chinese barbecue, or siu mei. But guess what? For the best version of the roasted meats I've had in North America, you don't have to leave Houston or even the inner loop.

The meats may be familiar to Midtown denizens: Mimi and Cho Woo closed Long Sing Supermarket in 2017 because of construction. Now they're back with a business entirely devoted to barbecue.

Window shopping is encouraged at Siu Lap City.

Image: Alice Levitt

I never made it to Long Sing, but now Siu Lap will be a regular part of my meaty rotation. A small Styrofoam container allows customers to fill up on one meat, but it's folly to limit oneself to only one. I ordered duck and roasted pork, a tough choice with dusky red lengths of cha siu hanging seductively nearby. Chicken legs also called to me, but I was most enticed by a container filled with fried ribs. Next time, I'll likely buy myself lunch but also get a few other options to take home. Luckily, they're sold by the pound, so it's easy to stock up.

Often, hanging meats end up a bit dry as they languish on the hook. Both that I tried at Siu Lap were intensely juicy. Duck was tender and mild, with skin more crêpey than crisp, but thin enough not to get in the way. If crunchy, salty skin is your thing, the cracklings that cling to the outside of the roasted pork is ecstasy. The meat within all but explodes with moisture and porcine flavor, enhanced with a slug of duck sauce (definitely not the sweet stuff of Chinese-American restaurant packets) and a spoonful of chile paste.

Not enough pork? Make sure to choose fried rice over plain for chewy little cubes of the other white meat. Veggie options include a colorful melange, classic bok choy, or cabbage. I went for the final option, which was unusually sweet—a lovely contrast to the salty flesh. Hot tea is free with every meal, but I found that pairing lunch with mangosteen juice was a perfect pairing. Well, a good pairing. The ideal bedfellow for Siu Lap's enviable animal products? More meat.

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