It was not the first time I was taking the direct two-hour train ride from Hung Hom to Guangzhou. But my previous visits had been pretty uneventful, so it was no surprise that my mother would be in shock when I told her my plans: For what… What is there to do in Guangzhou?
This time I was going there to eat the purportedly best BBQ Pork/Char Siu at Bing Sheng Restaurant – frequently cited to be one of the best restaurants in Guangzhou.
Char Siu – High Expectations, No Disappointment
You know how it goes, high expectations are bound to lead to disappointment. Despite being told beforehand that “this is not the best char siu I’ve had, it’s the best I’ll ever have” – honestly, it could not have been more hyped up for me – I was still immensely impressed.
We ordered the two types of char siu: black/dark and crispy. We were divided on which one we loved more and I say it’s always mandatory to order both.
Each piece of the black/dark char siu was a piece of perfection. The exterior had perfectly caramelised crunchy edges, while each piece had a distinct fat-meat-fat-meat interior composition. This was marginally my favourite one of the two.
The crispy char siu was completely different from the typical BBQ pork because it had a thin crispy deep fried outer layer covering each piece of meat. Each piece also had intricately structured fat-meat layers, except the fat proportion was probably larger. I still remember the feeling of my teeth cracking open the crispy layer, and the tasty juicy fatty parts oozing out in my mouth. Well, to say it was unforgettable would still be an understatement.
Char Siu – Not for the faint-hearted
That said, while I truly loved the BBQ pork, and every single bite felt like a new experience, there was undeniably so much fat that it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. If you’re the type to order skinny char siu usually, then this is definitely not the dish for you.
Other Dishes – At least very good
Going beyond the BBQ pork, all the other dishes we ordered were also mostly very outstanding. The black bean tofu was probably the runner up dish for me. It’s easy to get ‘good tofu’ which is made silky smooth. Theirs was silky smooth, but more impressive for us was the strong beany flavours the tofu had. Plus, this was a light and easy complement to our fatty meat dishes.
Despite having a lot of pork already, we were still tempted by their apple pork with black bean. This dish was relatively normal – we didn’t really taste anything substantially striking about the type of pork and the flavours of the overall dish were familiar. Nonetheless, it was still executed very well and just another delicious dish on the table.
For our carb needs, I was really tempted by their glutinous rice, which looked amazing from the menu photos. But we felt it may have been too heavy, so we ordered their regular fried rice instead. It was so simple yet satisfyingly good.
Desserts – Lava Egg Custard Mochi/Glutinous Rice Ball/Tong Yuen
We loved this place so much that we actually returned the next afternoon before heading home. One thing I didn’t get to try on my first visit was their ‘dim sum’ items at the back of the menu. Almost every other table was ordering their famous pineapple bun. But the annoying thing is that you have to order these items in sixes and the buns looked horrifyingly huge. To be honest they didn’t look extremely appetising either.
So I decided to order the lava egg custard-filled tong yuen instead. They call it tong yuen (glutinous rice ball), but it’s really exactly like a mochi. It doesn’t really need further explanation either… It’s as amazing as you can imagine warm lava custard bursting out of a mochi to be.
One Night in Guangzhou for BBQ Pork
It’s hard for me to declare that this BBQ Pork or Bing Sheng is worth the trek just for itself. As crazy as I can get about food sometimes, I’m just not sure I would travel over four hours in total for a meal that lasts for less than two hours. I didn’t, because I actually stayed overnight at Mandarin Oriental, which was conveniently just across the street from Bing Sheng Restaurant. But if you’re ever in Guangzhou, definitely make sure you pay a visit.
Do also make sure that you reserve a table in advance and arrive early (before 12:30pm), because the wait can get long and more importantly the BBQ Pork/Char Siu DOES sell out. In fact, on our second visit the next day, we were so disappointed to discover that the black/dark char siu had sold out – we arrived at 2pm.
Bing Sheng Restaurant (炳勝品味)
168 Tianhe E Rd, ShiPai, Tianhe Qu, Guangzhou Shi, Guangdong Sheng, China, 510620
Phone: +86 20 8751 8682
Spend per person: RMB100-150 per person