Eating feral birds at Han Lok Yuen on Lamma Island

I Can Has Roast Feral Bird (That Was Left-handed!)

I was pretty resistant to the plan of going to Lanma Island mainly because, thus far, my island sojourns have been dismal affairs involving indescriminate camouflage, too much humidity and not enough air-conditioning. “Hot and wet” is great if it’s a woman but if it’s the weather: get back, brother, get back.

(You know how some bloggers drop names using nicknames with a single letter like “I”, “V” or “N”? It’s not as fun to read, so from now on I’m gonna use a better class of nicknames that truly mask identities.)

Anyway, I finally relented when I got an email from DrZO.UK who wrote along the lines of “Dear NinjaHelloKitty, BooBooKittyFuc Pepper and I have longed to visit Lanma Island and hope that you can join us”.

Oooookay… When you put it like that…

It was a rather complicated trip that involved a MTR ride, 2 ferry rides to get to Lanma Island, followed by a short and pleasant walk towards Hung Shing Yeh Beach where you will pass a makeshift stall selling the finest, softest and bestest Dou Fo Fa to be found anywhere in Asia, but more about that later.

I Shit You Not, It's A Long Trek Through Wilderness          (Very Small) Sign Of Good Eating

When you see the small sign indicating the restaurant you turn left and abruptly leave the path and continue towards a small path that leads to the backyard of a house and a steep climb up a staircase to be greeted by the Han Lok Yuen Welcome Wagonette.

Welcome Wagonette! (Yes I Know I Should Squat To Her Level For This Shot, But I Was Tired)

Yes, I know I should have knelt down to take the photo, but I was tired. Anyway, the first thing we did was to order refreshments. I recommend the Tsingtao Beer. I don’t normally drink beer, but it looked like a good idea at the time and besides, it’s not the usual export version that we get in Singapore.

Of course, other people ordered fancy bottled water. The fact that Han Lok Yuen offers Perrier (and Hagen-Daz ice-cream) in the middle of nowhere is an indication of their turnover.

Real Men Drink Water

After a brief consult with the menu, we ordered. Not too much and nothing too large of course, because we have a long way to walk back to the pier. This is a mistake of course. I now feel that we should have ordered more of the feral birds because they were, in a word, delicious.

Actually, these roasted lovelies are pigeons. I use “feral birds” because of a nasty review by someone on the Internet because of the “long walk just to eat feral birds”. I thought it was a cool term to refer to pigeons.

Feral Birds

Pigeons are considered “game” and they are all “dark meat” which means that they are “unhealthy” but unbelievably tasty. It’s not as gamey as people might tell you. Just think of a juicy “kampong chicken” with a deeper flavor that is almost, but not quite, like roast pork trotters.

Served with a squeeze of lemon and a Lea & Perrins dip, we were soon in a contemplative munching fugue.

Nom Nom Nom

Han Lok Yuen also offers other dishes, but the outstanding ones were the steamed prawns which everyone told me I have to take a photo of and write about. I don’t eat prawns.

But according to them, the color of the prawns is indicative of the freshness and they were sweet, juicy and slightly salty. They looked dead to me, but judging by the oohs and ahhs coming from the rest, I am in a very small minority of prawn non-aficionados. 😀

Blanched PrawnsFeral Bird Meat With Nuts And Other Good Stuff In A Lettuce Wrap With Plum Sauce          Pai Kuat Wong (Pork Rib King)

However, I thought their minced pigeon with nuts served in a plum-sauced lettuce was really addictive as I almost skipped everything (except for the roast pigeons) and just ate that. Their Pai Kuat Wong (“Pork Rib King”) and Yang Chow Fried Rice were decent but not out-of-this-world.

I was looking around for their grill and was blocked by the kitchen staff but I did manage to snag a photo; they didn’t actually disallow photos (I asked!) but it was a full-house, people were very busy in the kitchen and I didn’t want to intrude.

Doesn’t it remind you of Bluebeard’s room? 😀

...Despite Bluebeard's Warning, She Opened The Door...

Han Lok Yuen does roast pigeons. It does them so well that it is a recommended must-stop-and-eat by almost all guidebooks. Ignore that review that talks about long arduous walks through god-forsaken, mosquito-infested wilderness. There’s a well-maintained stone path all the way from the pier (and to Chow Yun-Fatt’s family restaurant).

It’s a family-run restaurant, so you get a warm homey welcome as well as friendly and helpful service. Reservations are recommended at least a day in advance as the place got crowded very quickly.

Han Lok Yuen is at # 16-17 Hung Shing Ye, Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island, Hong Kong, Tel: 2982-0680. Advance reservations recommended. Closed on Mondays.

Costume Change!

Posted on 11th May 2009 in Cantonese, Food and Drink, Makankaki


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[…] were on our way to Han Lok Yuen for their amazing pigeons when we saw this make-shift stall by a drain. It was empty, but some how, […]

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