As a foodie living in Singapore, I’m always on the hunt for the best local eats. And there’s one restaurant that is legendary here for its roast meat – Kay Lee Roast Meat. This old-school joint has been serving up succulent roast duck, char siew, and roast pork since 1940! As someone who loves Chinese roast meats, I was excited to pay Kay Lee a visit and see if their food lived up to the hype.
Kay Lee Roast Meat Review
I have long dreamed of having perfect mind-blowing Cantonese roasted delights and, only by far, can this legendary shop by the name of “Kay Lee Roast Meat” live up to such extraordinaire!
Established since year 1940 ‘till present, “Kay Lee Roast Meat” has already maintained a status for setting the local standards of Cantonese roasted delights in Singapore!
It is a reputation that has been passed down from generations of father to son & now, of the current present, has recently been sold for $4 million to conglomerate Aztech Group for its divine recipe, as the couple are getting old with ages.
The standard of their dish has been maintained all these years by using the same technique of roasting meat in a charcoal stove and with a philosophy in mind that it goes way beyond being just a recipe, but rather also a heritage & a tradition that they believe in!
Taking a step into its main original outlet, you will definitely be overwhelmed by the nostalgia of olden days as its side walls are hung up with numerous historical photos of its origin, newspaper cuttings of interviews, food awards & not forgetting photographs of celebrity visits such as that of the famous U.S TV series of Hell’s Kitchen host, Chef Gordon Ramsay!This shop offers a fairly extensive menu of Cantonese roasted delights that consist of the main primary three of roast duck, char siew (BBQ pork) & roast pork.
For this trip, I ordered the “three combination roast meats” of a serving for 2 people which consisted of roast duck, char siew (BBQ pork) & roast pork, all served together in a big oval plate with a touch of cucumber!
I was immediately overwhelmed by the aesthetically pleasing view of the entire plate of roast colour, that I was certain of falling in love with it!
The roast duck had a very crispy thin layer of roasted skin that resembles the texture of the dedicate “paper-like” layer of Japanese Nori (edible seaweed)!
The roasted skin carries a good roasted flavour along with a tender texture to its meat, making it easy to chew as opposed to many roast duck out there, as their meat has a rather hard texture & can be difficult to chew on!
There was also a bowl of dark soya sauce that came along with the entire plate, which is a definite must “companion” of the Cantonese delight, to provide a sweeter taste.
Moving on to probably the ultimate reason to visit this shop & the legendary roasted meat out of the main primary three, is their char siew (BBQ pork)!
Taking a first glance at their char siew (BBQ pork) itself, one would definitely be able to identify its unique difference from others that are being sold outside, which is the fact that its meat on the outer layer is dark black in colour, while the inner layer is white in colour.
Upon savouring it, the heavenly taste of roasted sweetness immediately strikes your mind, bringing an ultimate taste of paradise that you had never felt before from such a delicate roasted delight! The char siew (BBQ pork) was juicy and tender with every mouthwatering bite and carried a slight moisture inside the meat, along with the rich enhanced roasted flavour!
Notably, it was indeed astonishing that despite its outer layer being dark black in colour (heavy BBQ Roasted colour), it did not contain any char burnt taste that was supposed to be salty in flavour (due to the heavy BBQ roasted method)!
I personally developed a deep liking for their char siew (BBQ pork) as without dipping into the dark soya sauce that came along with the entire plate, it was already very sweet in flavour and was comforting enough to even eat on its own!
The last but not least on the plate of the “three combination roast meats” was the roast pork itself.
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I felt that the roast pork was still quite decent out of the rest, where it also has a crisp skin & tender meaty texture, making it equally great to be on par with their roast duck and char siew (BBQ pork).
Apart from that, I also ordered their “Lotus Root Soup” to go along with the entire meal of delights!
The “Lotus Root Soup” was boiled with herbs and spices, containing lotus root, peanuts & pork ribs, and, upon tasting the rich essence of a very light lotus root flavour, is an ideal choice alongside to refresh oneself while indulging in the great delicacy of roasted delights!
Overall as a whole, I feel that its roasted meat especially their char siew (BBQ pork) & roast duck is a definite must-to-order on the list when you are here!
I’ve really got to say that through my years of travelling around the world, especially to countries like Hong Kong (famous for its Cantonese roasted delights), never have I met any shop there nor so far in my food discovery that sells roasted meat, especially char siew (BBQ pork), better than “Kay Lee Roast Meat”!
The roasted delights here at “Kay Lee Roast Meat” are definitely worth savouring, but it is also on the pricy side, which might be less suitable for the price-conscious individuals!
Kay Lee Roast Meat (琪利珠江燒臘)
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 10:30 – 20:00
Tel: +65 65942205Average Price: Roast Meat (Char Siew / Roast Pork / Roast Duck)
- SGD $10 – Small
- SGD $20 – Medium
- SGD $30 – Large
Why I Love Kay Lee Roast Meat
After my visit, Kay Lee Roast Meat has become one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore. Here’s why I love this place so much:
1. Amazing Roast Meats
Obviously the star attraction is the roast meat – char siew, roast pork, roast duck. The meats are perfectly cooked with incredible depth of flavor. The roast duck has super crispy skin and juicy tender meat. And the char siew hits that ideal balance of fat and lean meat.
2. Traditional Cooking Methods
Kay Lee still uses traditional Cantonese methods to roast meats over charcoal ovens. They have stuck to the same cooking process for over 80 years! This old-school approach results in meats packed with smoky, savory flavor.
3. Reasonable Prices
For the outstanding quality, Kay Lee’s roast meats are very reasonably priced. You can get a big platter of mixed meats over rice for under $10.
4. Old School Vibe
Stepping into Kay Lee makes me feel like I’ve gone back in time. The modest decor and no-frills atmosphere is wonderfully retro. And crowds still flock here just like the old days!
5. Legendary Reputation
It’s just so cool to eat at a place with such a long history and legendary status in Singapore. Kay Lee Roast Meat is an institution!
The Future of Kay Lee Roast Meat
I do hope Kay Lee Roast Meat will stand the test of time. With only one outlet left now, it would be a shame for this legendary eatery to disappear. But Singaporeans like myself will certainly keep patronizing this iconic joint.
The owners clearly recognize the value of Kay Lee’s brand and roast meat recipes. After all, they sold the business for millions! I trust the owners will find a way to keep Kay Lee Roast Meat going for many more generations.
Have you tried Kay Lee Roast Meat in Singapore? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! And if you haven’t been yet, it’s high time you visited this famous roast meat institution.