Bay Area Roasted BBQ Pig Tasting Tour

The San Francisco Bay Area is the mecca for diverse food and one item in particular is delicious roasted/BBQ pig. The roasted pig is a staple in many Asian events and parties; one in particular is the tea ceremony when couples get married. One of our own, Thien, is getting married and having a tea ceremony/engagement party soon. That was the perfect excuse to go on a pig tasting tour at 6 different establishments that offers roasted pig. We ate our way from the South Bay to the North Bay to find the best tasting roasted pig.

Here is our judging criteria as we tried each roasted pig:

1. Taste

2. Texture

3. Price

With 11 guys, 3 cameras, 6 restaurants, 7 different types of pork and a bunch of hungry stomachs; here is our day.

Kim Tar B.B.Q  2351 McKee Rd # A, San Jose, CA 95116  The staple of any good roasted bbq pork is the skin. The skin has to be soft enough to bite into but it also has to exhibit a nice crunch to it. The skin shouldn’t be tough to bite, but more fluffy and crispy texture.   Taste:  While meat was flavorful, juicy, and well balanced, it didn’t stand out in terms or one flavor over the other.   Texture:  The texture of the skin was a let down. Instead of being light and crispy, it was on the harder end of the spectrum.  Price:  Kim Tar B.B.Q is cash only, affordable and worth the money.  Verdict:  Kim Tar B.B.Q is a friendly service and a good place to go to for a quick fix if you’re craving some roasted B.B.Q Pork.

Kim Tar B.B.Q
2351 McKee Rd # A, San Jose, CA 95116

The staple of any good roasted bbq pork is the skin. The skin has to be soft enough to bite into but it also has to exhibit a nice crunch to it. The skin shouldn’t be tough to bite, but more fluffy and crispy texture.

Taste: While meat was flavorful, juicy, and well balanced, it didn’t stand out in terms or one flavor over the other.
Texture: The texture of the skin was a let down. Instead of being light and crispy, it was on the harder end of the spectrum.
Price: Kim Tar B.B.Q is cash only, affordable and worth the money.
Verdict: Kim Tar B.B.Q is a friendly service and a good place to go to for a quick fix if you’re craving some roasted B.B.Q Pork.

Cheung Hing Restaurant  245 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030  We decided to drive to the North Bay for our second and third stop. Half of the team waited at Koi palace and half of us went to Cheung Hing to pick up and order togo   Taste:  Cheung Hing Restaurant offered two different types of BBQ Pork meat. One dark and one light. The darker version was more on the salty side and the meat was not as juicy and flavorful as as the lighter version. The lighter version’s meat was much more flavorful, but the meat did not compare to Kim Tar BBQ’s.  Texture:  Both of the skin was nice and crispy but the lighter version meat had the fluffier skin was is important in BBQ pork.  Price:  This location accepts credit card and the price would be considered affordable.  Verdict:  Service here was relatively quick with many different options of meat. The meat and skin was overall good with the skin being the highlight. The dark one is considerably saltier if you’re into that.

Cheung Hing Restaurant
245 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

We decided to drive to the North Bay for our second and third stop. Half of the team waited at Koi palace and half of us went to Cheung Hing to pick up and order togo

Taste: Cheung Hing Restaurant offered two different types of BBQ Pork meat. One dark and one light. The darker version was more on the salty side and the meat was not as juicy and flavorful as as the lighter version. The lighter version’s meat was much more flavorful, but the meat did not compare to Kim Tar BBQ’s.
Texture: Both of the skin was nice and crispy but the lighter version meat had the fluffier skin was is important in BBQ pork.
Price: This location accepts credit card and the price would be considered affordable.
Verdict: Service here was relatively quick with many different options of meat. The meat and skin was overall good with the skin being the highlight. The dark one is considerably saltier if you’re into that.

Koi Palace  365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015  Koi Palace is a little different than the other 5 locations because we did not get roasted pig here. Instead we decided to order the suckling pig. Upon entry, there was already a long line outside and even even loner wait inside but it was worth it. After an hour wait, we got our two orders of roasted suckling pig.   Taste:  The taste of the meat was more on the sweeter side than salty. The meat was extremely tender and juicy. It didn’t look dry and it sure didn’t taste dry (advantage of being a suckling pig).   Texture:  Upon biting into the entire piece, the initial crunch of the skin reminds me of biting into a lays potato chip. It was nice and thin with a lot of crispiness to it. The pork also came resting on a bed of beans and in combination with the sauce, it made for a delicious and memorable bite.  Price:  The price of one order is more expensive than any of the other locations, but it was worth it.  Verdict:  Overall, the suckling pig here was on most of everyone’s favorite list. The wait was long but it was worth it in the end.

Koi Palace
365 Gellert Blvd, Daly City, CA 94015

Koi Palace is a little different than the other 5 locations because we did not get roasted pig here. Instead we decided to order the suckling pig. Upon entry, there was already a long line outside and even even loner wait inside but it was worth it. After an hour wait, we got our two orders of roasted suckling pig.

Taste: The taste of the meat was more on the sweeter side than salty. The meat was extremely tender and juicy. It didn’t look dry and it sure didn’t taste dry (advantage of being a suckling pig).
Texture: Upon biting into the entire piece, the initial crunch of the skin reminds me of biting into a lays potato chip. It was nice and thin with a lot of crispiness to it. The pork also came resting on a bed of beans and in combination with the sauce, it made for a delicious and memorable bite.
Price: The price of one order is more expensive than any of the other locations, but it was worth it.
Verdict: Overall, the suckling pig here was on most of everyone’s favorite list. The wait was long but it was worth it in the end.

In-N-Out and Heidi’s Pies  1941 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403  During our wait, our friends decided to supplement the waiting time by purchasing some In N’ Out burger and Heidi's Pies.   Taste:  In-N-Out maintains consistency throughout all their locations, so it was amazing. Heidis Pies are simple, not too sweet, fresh, and delicious.  Texture:  The pies had fluffy cream while maintaining a good pie-crust crunch.  Price:  Affordable!  Verdict:  If you’re doing a food tasting tour, the pie is a good break between all the savory food. It is a good halfway point to cleanse the taste palate for the second half of the day.

In-N-Out and Heidi’s Pies
1941 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403

During our wait, our friends decided to supplement the waiting time by purchasing some In N’ Out burger and Heidi's Pies.

Taste: In-N-Out maintains consistency throughout all their locations, so it was amazing. Heidis Pies are simple, not too sweet, fresh, and delicious.
Texture: The pies had fluffy cream while maintaining a good pie-crust crunch.
Price: Affordable!
Verdict: If you’re doing a food tasting tour, the pie is a good break between all the savory food. It is a good halfway point to cleanse the taste palate for the second half of the day.

Han Kee 2  2017 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122  We made our way back down to San Jose to try visit Lechon Pinoy (Filipino BBQ Restaurant) but they were sold out. This must be a good sign so we have to return. Luckily, Han Kee is located next door, so we decided to pop in to give it a try. At this point we got really thirsty and made the mistake of not bring any drinks with us. We started fantasizing about getting milk tea or any kind of drinks to rehydrate. Advice: make sure you bring some water.   Taste:  We did not enjoy the taste of this meat. there wasn’t anything that stood out because it was plain and dry. The sauce that came with it was lacking, as well.  Texture:  We didn’t not receive much skin with the order but what we got had good texture. The skin was crispy but not super fluffy and it also had a nice smokey taste to it.  Price:  The price of the pound that we order was roughly the same as the first two locations.  Verdict:  Overall, it was this location was at the bottom of our favorite list even though the skin was good.

Han Kee 2
2017 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

We made our way back down to San Jose to try visit Lechon Pinoy (Filipino BBQ Restaurant) but they were sold out. This must be a good sign so we have to return. Luckily, Han Kee is located next door, so we decided to pop in to give it a try. At this point we got really thirsty and made the mistake of not bring any drinks with us. We started fantasizing about getting milk tea or any kind of drinks to rehydrate. Advice: make sure you bring some water.

Taste: We did not enjoy the taste of this meat. there wasn’t anything that stood out because it was plain and dry. The sauce that came with it was lacking, as well.
Texture: We didn’t not receive much skin with the order but what we got had good texture. The skin was crispy but not super fluffy and it also had a nice smokey taste to it.
Price: The price of the pound that we order was roughly the same as the first two locations.
Verdict: Overall, it was this location was at the bottom of our favorite list even though the skin was good.

New China Station B.B.Q.  1710 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122  Our next location is located next to Lion Super Market and it is the usual go to place that people buy whole BBQ pork for engagement Ceremonies in the South Bay. Some of us have actually had this at weddings we’ve attended.   Taste:  The meat was not extremely juicy but it was moist with a lot of good flavors. The meat was also fattier and the fat was rendered well.  Texture:  The skin was crispy, not hard to bite into and it also had a nice smokey smell and flavor to it.  Price:  The price is really good for what you are getting. Best bang for buck!  Verdict:  If you live in the South Bay and don’t mind the parking difficulties, New China Station is the place to go for overall good meat, skin and price.

New China Station B.B.Q.
1710 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

Our next location is located next to Lion Super Market and it is the usual go to place that people buy whole BBQ pork for engagement Ceremonies in the South Bay. Some of us have actually had this at weddings we’ve attended.

Taste: The meat was not extremely juicy but it was moist with a lot of good flavors. The meat was also fattier and the fat was rendered well.
Texture: The skin was crispy, not hard to bite into and it also had a nice smokey smell and flavor to it.
Price: The price is really good for what you are getting. Best bang for buck!
Verdict: If you live in the South Bay and don’t mind the parking difficulties, New China Station is the place to go for overall good meat, skin and price.

Huong Lan Sandwich  1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122  We decided to go try and underdog location, Huong Lan. Huong Lan is known for the sandwiches and other snacks but they also had B.B.Q there as well and here is the finding.   Taste:  The meat did not stand out, it was slightly sweet and did not seem to have any salt. Overall it was bland.  Texture:  This location surprisingly had the second best skin that we tasted. It was crunchy and it had the texture of well cooked crackling.  Price:  Price is no different from other locations but for the money, go to New China Station across the street.  Verdict:  Even though Huong Lan was the underdog, it didn’t fall dead last on our list.

Huong Lan Sandwich
1655 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

We decided to go try and underdog location, Huong Lan. Huong Lan is known for the sandwiches and other snacks but they also had B.B.Q there as well and here is the finding.

Taste: The meat did not stand out, it was slightly sweet and did not seem to have any salt. Overall it was bland.
Texture: This location surprisingly had the second best skin that we tasted. It was crunchy and it had the texture of well cooked crackling.
Price: Price is no different from other locations but for the money, go to New China Station across the street.
Verdict: Even though Huong Lan was the underdog, it didn’t fall dead last on our list.

Behind the scenes   Taste:  Soy milk is a great thirst quencher when you’re enjoying a ton of roasted pork. It’s refreshing while  not being too sweet. Good if you’re lactose intolerant.  Texture:  The smooth and silky texture of soy milk running down your face is one of the greatest pleasures in the culinary world.  Price:  Cheap  Verdict:  Very good  The takeaway from our roasted pig tour are the following 3 things:  1. Bring a bunch of friends along  2. Enjoy trying different foods  3. Stay hydrated  4. Each location will cater to each person’s taste  With that said, go out and try new foods and enjoy life.  Leave a comment below and let us know what food item you want us to go try next.

Behind the scenes

Taste: Soy milk is a great thirst quencher when you’re enjoying a ton of roasted pork. It’s refreshing while
not being too sweet. Good if you’re lactose intolerant.
Texture: The smooth and silky texture of soy milk running down your face is one of the greatest pleasures in the culinary world.
Price: Cheap
Verdict: Very good

The takeaway from our roasted pig tour are the following 3 things:

1. Bring a bunch of friends along

2. Enjoy trying different foods

3. Stay hydrated

4. Each location will cater to each person’s taste

With that said, go out and try new foods and enjoy life.

Leave a comment below and let us know what food item you want us to go try next.