“I want my baby back baby back ribs”: Dr. Evil’s spy, the unfortunately named “Fat Bast*rd”, proclaimed this slogan repeatedly in the movie Austin Powers, and we were chanting the same motto as we stepped into this new barbecue joint in the rapidly gentrifying Kennedy Town. The small, minimalist shop zeros in on one thing, and a quick peruse through the menu confirms that this is not a place for vegetarians! Chef and owner Ken Lo has been passionate about his beef and pork rib barbecue since his days in Toronto, Canada. Following his move to Hong Kong, he noticed a serious lack of good rib joints, so decided to start his own. His Kansas-style barbecue starts off with a secret homemade dry rub before a hickory and applewood slow-smoking session that lasts more than four hours. To get around government regulations that ban indoor smoking grills, Ken has imported special ovens that keep all the smoke inside and further infuse the meat with heady aromas.
As happy as a hog in mud: Our tasting began with a generous rack of USA baby back pork ribs ($148 for the half rack, $248 for the full) basted in a subtly tangy tomato-based barbecue sauce. The juicy ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, yet still retained enough structure for a satisfying meaty chew. This was all washed down with ice-cold La Goudale blonde ale. As sides, we crunched on thin-cut beef fat fries ($38) dusted in paprika and refreshing coleslaw ($28). The Ribcage’s coleslaw was a welcomed deviation from the over-sauced variations widely found in Hong Kong, and the lightly dressed salad had the addition of beetroot and nasi pear to give it irresistible sweet crunch. The big boy came in the form of an entire beef short rib ($298), rubbed in salt and paprika to accentuate the beefy flavours before going into the smoker. Lightly glazed with the same tangy barbecue sauce as the pork ribs, and top grill broiled to caramelised perfection, this bad boy was what carnivore dreams are made of. Tender, juicy, and incredibly rich thanks to all that beef fat, the rib made for immensely pleasurable eating.
Verdict: This place is the real deal. The ribs are finger-lickin’ good, and we loved how the flavours were not so in-your-face overpowering like many American rib joints. It allowed the high quality of the meat to shine through. The relatively subtle barbecue sauce was perfect for more demure Asian palates. Afterall, if you have a good product, you don’t need to shout the loudest to be heard.
Shop J, G/F May Sun Building. 1 Smithfield, Kennedy Town
Tel: 3956 4213
Dinner: Mon-Sun 18:30-23:00. Closed on Tuesdays
Lunch: Sat-Sun 11:00-3:00 (ribs sandwich only)