Pitstop Eatery opens in Kentish Town 20/10/2014 bringing Pan Asian street food to north London, bringing back roast meats, Cantonese style. Pitstop Kentish town will specialise in roasted duck, crispy pork and soya chicken.
The father of Sing Wong, chef at Pitstop, was well known for his special roasted meats, bringing customers from Asia all the way to his restaurant in London’s Bayswater.
Here is an article written for a Mandarin newspaper about the famous roasted meats, aimed at international customers.
The restaurant in London’s second China town at Bayswater is overly busy on a daily basis, not just on public holidays. Long queues of customers that lead out the doors of the restaurant are all eagerly awaiting to taste Yau Gai Man’s incredibly delicious Siu Mei (Barbequed Roast Mix Meat). All the customers attention are drawn to the golden glimmer of the roast ducks and soya chicken, hung on display in the restaurant window. They are all eagerly waiting to taste the Siu Mei, almost drooling in the process of waiting, as the excitement builds up. Articles written on Mr Wong Tse Man are published in the Inflight magazine on international flights and newspapers; they all refer to the restaurant he work’s at by his famous name of “Yau Gai Man’s” rather than the actual name of the restaurant. The paparazzi wanted to interview Master Wong however they encountered Mrs. Wong first, before they could even get to Master Wong himself, Mrs. Wong demoralized the paparazzi’s enthusiasm by describing her husband; as a freak, who is antisocial and boring, she said that, “He wouldn’t even pass on the secret recipe of the legendary soya chicken to his own son, what makes you think it’s possible for you to ask anything about it?”. With no surprise the ‘Eat in London Magazine’ from the Japanese airline had described Master Wong’s soya chicken is a “Secret herbal bestie.” However, Mrs. Wong’s warning didn’t seem to have scared or phased the paparazzi at all, in fact they waited outside the restaurant all day, until he finished work and they followed Master Wong all the way home.
Success comes with sacrifices.
As the paparazzi followed white haired Yau Gai Man, they described him looking like a depressed old man, when as a matter of fact; he isn’t even that old at all. It’s only because he spends ¾’s of his time in the kitchen, questing on producing the best soya chicken. The price he paid for his success and reputation, is the sacrifice of his youthfulness, with his head full of white hairs, you can tell that he paid the price. Wong Tse Man is the first person to bring the Guangdong Siu Mei into the U.K. twenty odd years ago, since then the popularity of Siu Mei has only gotten bigger in England. 61 years old, Master Wong left home from Guangdong, China at the age of 17 to live in Hong Kong to develop his skills; he started working at the ‘Lung Fung Restaurant’, and chose the most difficult job, that is standing by the very high temperature reactor, roasting ducks and gooses. He did that job for 7-8 years of his life. When he was working as a trainee, he did all the different duties by himself, from serving water and drinks to food delivery, amongst a number of other errands. He paid the closest attention to every detail his Master did. Whenever he had the opportunity, whilst the master was busy or away, he would practice his seasoning and chopping skills to gain as much experience as possible. In 1967, Wong Tse Man was recruited by ‘Lee Hau Fook Restaurant’ in London. At that time he had already established the status of a famous Siu Mei Master. With the established name of Yau Gai Man, 5 years later, he started up his own business. Once Master Wong started talking about his 40 odd year venture of learning and striving to make the best Siu Mei, he couldn’t stop talking to the paparazzi; he even served the strangers tea.
The Revelation of the Secret to Master Wong’s Famous Soya Chicken
Master Wong raised his swollen, rough hands and said, “This is the result of washing and preparing the chicken’s.” Then the paparazzi asked “Is this the reason you refused to pass it down to your sons?” “Refusing them to follow your footsteps?” Master Wong replied “No” and revealed the ingredients and the process of his secret recipe of his famous Yau Gai (Soya Chicken).
Ingredients: Sichuan pepper, Star Anise, Chenpi (sun dried tangerine peel), Black Cardamom, Salt, Soya sauce and a touch of sugar.
Process: Washing the chicken and clean all the organs out of the body, blanch in boiling water quickly, which can remove the fat underneath the skin and it also avoids wrinkles. Place the chicken in boiling soy sauce. Switch the stove off, soak the chicken for about 45 minutes, reheat chicken in soy sauce for another 3-5 minutes. Seasoning the chicken with sugar is a skill/technique. Too much the chicken will go black, not enough sugar the chicken will become really white. Before hanging the chicken on display, glaze the chicken with honey to add on the beautiful color and smell. Slight red on the bones means that the meat will be smoother, softer and tender. Comparing his soya chicken to all the others in China Town, He said “The secret is to add more sugar” Brush the honey, glazing the Yau Gai (Soya Chicken) until it glistens. Customers assumed that it was all artificial colouring. Master Wong had to prove a point, so he brought them all to the kitchen to witness the soya chicken in person. Everyone was astonished at the fact that all the colours on the chicken were natural; they were all left speechless and could only give a thumbs up of approval. Master Wong had said completely different things to his wife. He said, “There is no secret within.” They have 4 sons and a daughter, apart from the youngest son that was still studying; all the sibling’s occupations had absolutely nothing to do with Siu Mei.
The Skills for Siu Mei is an Art
One of his sons tried following his footsteps to take on the Yau Gai (Soya Chicken). He didn’t last more than a few days before he quit. Master Wong was expecting his son to do what he had to when he started. He expected him to start from scratch, everything from the very beginning, from baring the heat at high temperatures, to washing the chickens and ducks. Unfortunately his son thought it would be an instant leap to success, but he couldn’t bare the bitterness. Master Wong emphasizes Siu Mei is an Art. So much effort was put in trying to reach the best. Whilst Building and earning respect he enjoyed the process at the same time. From the smallest details like controlling the fire, too high of a heat will burn the Siu Mei, to things like the chopping skills of Siu Mei, one of the most simple things is so vital. He described how you place and serve Siu Mei on a plate, is like floriculture, learning to place flowers in a certain way for display, it’s the same as arranging the Siu Mei in a certain way, so it would look more appealing to the customers, the visual aspect is as important as the taste. To be able to pick the bones out could be a challenging task for particular customers and they would specially request him to separate the bones from the meat, also the same with the fat, being able to fulfill these different requests to cater to the customers desires, it makes everyone fell very homely. All of these different skills require time and practice to build up. Master Wong leaves home at half 4 every morning, to start preparing the chickens at the restaurant. Every day he makes 8 Soya chickens (Yau Gai), 60 roast ducks (Siu app), 5 to 6 rolls of Barbeque pork (Char Siu). The amount of Yau gai produced on a daily basis is usually not enough for sale; customers normally have to pre-order beforehand. So why doesn’t he make more? He said the pot is too small. There is a company from the Far East that wants to persuade Master Wong to work for them; he is very tempted to make the move. Let’s hope he considers the feelings of the customers who wait outside the restaurant and let them continue to be able to get hold of the Glorious Siu Mei made by Master Wong.