Just a few doors down from Yummy King BBQ Campsie is their biggest competitor, a Cantonese BBQ restaurant with a hyper-focus on Southern Chinese barbecued meats, with a distinct lack of faffing around with an extensive eat-in menu.
What No. 1 BBQ House does is all your classic barbecued favourites – from soy chicken to crispy roast duck, to BBQ pork and roast pork, as well as some other things in between. There is no in-house seating (this may be a COVID-19 thing, but it’s already January 2023, perhaps it was just for the afternoon that we went), and no need for it. Just meat.
Both the BBQ Pork and Roast Pork were $36.kg, about the going price up and down the road, and everywhere else.
The char siu was very good, with good flavours – a balance of sweet, salty, and umami, as well as good texture. It was cut in the traditional way, against the grain, with each piece having a good mouthfeel with no particularly chewy bits – more than I can say for Yummy King BBQ.
To contrast, the siu yuk (roast pork), was not as good as next door. It was certainly not bad, with again good texture, crispy skin even when eaten as takeaway, and a good amount of lean meat with a little bit of fat. The taste however was too salty for my liking, and I longed for the more mild but still tasty variety that I had had from Yummy King just days ago.
The ginger and shallot oil was clear, which in comparison is definitely a plus.
OVERALL THOUGHTS Though we’re yet to have any of the birds at No. 1 BBQ House, my opinion is that their char siu is superior to Yummy King, whilst their crackling roast pork is not as good. Seeing as they’re right next to each other, it’s not overly difficult to just get what you like from each place.
I will note that No. 1 BBQ house imposes no EFT surcharge for purchases over $10, and only a 50c surcharge for purchase under $10, which is both fair and extremely above board. I pay my income tax, and appreciate when others do the same.
Number One BBQ House Campsie 152 Beamish St, Campsie NSW 2194 (02) 9718 6147
We went to local restaurant Yummy King on an online recommendation for some suckling pork. Unfortunately they were sold out of suckling pork for the day (we were told that they usually run out around 2PM, earlier during festive seasons), so this is what we had instead.
We started, after a couple who had only just finished their meal were hurried out of their table so that we could be seated, with this classic complimentary soup with some pork bone, carrot and potato. It had a light and wholesome flavour, perfect to drink during the extremely short wait for our food to arrive. My partner always enjoys this, no matter where we go.
We had the double varieties BBQ with rice ($13) with BBQ pork and roast duck. The quantity was quite ample for the price, especially considering you can get this with the huge mountain of rice, a good amount of protein, and a free soup for just $13. The roast duck (燒鴨) was pretty good, with good flavour, skin and texture with a good combination of meatiness and fattiness, with not much bone.
The BBQ pork was less good in our opinion – cooked a bit sweeter than we like, with also a different cut of pork than we are used to (or is it just cut in a different direction?) I honestly think that the char siu (叉烧) that my partner makes at home with the recipe from The Woks of Life is better.
We also ordered an entire serving of roast pork ($15.80) by itself. Contrary to the disappointing char siu, Yummy King’s roast pork was actually some of the best I’ve ever had. The flavours were perfect, with just a little bit of salt and other seasoning coming through, but not to an overpowering or oversalted extent. The skin was incredibly crispy and tasty throughout the course of our meal, and the meat was tender and juicy, with not much fat. This was really some very top tier siu yuk (燒肉), and I would not hesitate to recommend it.
The ginger and shallot sauce, along with all other sauces like duck sauce were self-serve from a little sauce stall at the back of the restaurant. As it was end of day, the ginger and shallot sauce had gotten a little sedimenty.
Because we are cosplaying as responsible adults this year, we ordered a serve of steamed Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce ($10). Truth be told, we could’ve had better value getting a set menu for two, but my partner specifically wanted gai lan over choy sum (a little bit of which came with th BBQ meats anyway). These were super green and probably quite healthy, though we are told by my partner’s mother that greenness comes from the addition of oil in the cooking process.
OTHER THOUGHTS I went out onto the street to find the nearest ATM because my partner thought that they told her there was a 4% card surcharge, something she’s since backed down on since she now claims she doesn’t understand the language perfectly (never mind the fact that she grew up with Cantonese at home). A 4% card surcharge would be highly suspicious but without clear evidence of this there’s not much more to say.
The roast pork is delicious. Don’t expect to be allowed to stay much longer than your eating time. They’re super busy and popular, with a line out the door when we arrived.
Sun Ming’s been around in Parramatta for as long as I can remember, with my parents frequently buying shāo kǎo (烧烤) from this and nearby barbecue restaurants throughout my childhood. Though frequenting the BBQ counter, I had never been further inside the restaurant until now.
Complimentary soup was served with our meal. It was light and a bit sweet with a bit of pork bone, similar to many entree soups at larger Cantonese restaurants. I certainly wasn’t expecting this from a neighbourhood BBQ restaurant at 3PM in the afternoon, but it was a nice surprise.
This chicken congee was warm and delicious, with light flavours of chicken and ginger, and crispy fried wonton bits on top. I feel like I could drink one of Sung Ming’s congees every day – they just feel so wholesome.
While it’s not strictly against the law to have congee without Fried dough sticks – Yóu tiáo (油条 – $3.70), it’s definitely unwise to forego them if available. Sun Ming’s dough sticks are freshly fried, warm throughout, and crunchy on the outside with a softer inside, perfect for dipping into congee. Whilst nothing out of the ordinary, these sticks are special just for being ordinary – a perfect rendition of what they are meant to be.
I had my first taste of Fujian (Hokkein) Fried Rice as a child in the early 2000s, in a small Chinese diner in Burwood called Canton Noodle House. Since then, I have travelled the world trying Fujian Fried Rices from all over Sydney and Melbourne. Some have been better, many have been worse, and out of all of these Sun Ming’s ranks within the top tier. The fried rice component of the Fried Rice Fukkien Style ($17.80), as it is known at Sun Ming, is less fried than its counterparts across Sydney, more resembling a normal rice that has been tossed in oil. The size of the toppings is greater than what I’ve experienced elsewhere, with both vegetables and seafood coming in larger chunks rather than minestrone-sized pieces – a point of differentiation rather than a point of advantage or disadvantage. The toppings themselves were warm and full of umami flavours – not too heavily salted but salted just right to add flavour to the rice, and of adequate quantity that no grain of rice was left untopped and boring.
The beef brisket in hot pot ($18.80) was exactly as stated on the label. It is a more strongly flavoured dish, with a huge amount of nice, fatty beef brisket and wombok cabbage in a hot pot. It’s a bit too salty to eat on its own, but just perfect with rice, which is how it is designed to be eaten. I liked this very much – I only wish that there could’ve been an option to mix beef brisket and tofu within the same hot pot.
I’ve recently discovered that most BBQ meats from Chinese BBQ shops aren’t actually made on site, due to the significant difficulties in small spaces and therefore the significant advantages of economies of scale when it comes to roasting entire ducks and huge slabs of pigs. Whilst I can’t confirm where Sun Ming Parramatta gets their roast duck from, (or perhaps they actually do do it in house), I can confirm that it is very delicious, plump, juicy, and not too salty.
Char siu is char siu. There is generally a good mix of fatty and lean pieces.
I’ve always wondered what these sausages were, and it took the help of my girlfriend speaking in Cantonese to actually order a little bit to try. Though I still don’t know what they’re called (the English-speaking internet is divided on this topic – perhaps siu cheong), I can describe them for you in reasonably good detail. They are a thick sausage with a soft internal structure and a sweetness similar to that of cha siu or your standard dried lap cheong. The thickness and softness however give it much more presence in your mouth than just chewing a twiggy-stick-esque lap cheong, and while I enjoyed it by itself I think it would also be great with rice.
UPDATE MARCH 2023 We went back. Of course we did.
The combination and bean curd in hot pot ($22) hit every single mark it was meant to, with a generous serving size, jam packed with fried soft tofu, beef, chicken, some prawns, vegetables, and roast pork belly. This is a universal classic dish that the restaurant pulled off with no problem.
I have been searching for a good Sang Tung Chicken (Shandong Chicken – $20) for what feels like many years now, and none has come as close to what I remember and enjoy as Sun Ming Parramatta’s. This chicken was crispy skinned on the outside whilst remaining moist on the inside, with a deliciously sour, sweet, and savoury sauce and topping of chillis, garlic and shallots. This was exactly what I was looking for.
The BBQ Pork and Roast Pork with Rice ($16) was sadly not as good at the end of the day as when we usually get takeaway from them, with only a limited portion of roast pork still available by around 8PM. I also didn’t love the char siu this time around, which I found to be more fatty but also with a bit of a porky aftertaste – not as good as what they usually have on offer.
UPDATE MAY 2023
Between stroke calls at the end of the day when essentially all other nearby restaurants had closed their kitchens I inhaled this Roast Pork and Soy Chicken with Noodles ($16), which wasn’t particularly spectacular (especially the noodle soup, I think rice might be a better option), but came with this excellent complimentary soup of the day.
This soup of the day, free, was unlike any other I’d ever had. Though the day was generally bad for me (7 stroke calls in a 24-hour period), the soup of the day was good, with a nice tomatoey and slightly spicy flavour. I liked it much more than the noodle soup that I actually paid for.
VERDICT Sun Ming BBQ in Parramatta is a centre of excellence for authentic, well-priced Chinese food in the heart of Parramatta. They are my pick for Cantonese/Hong Kong BBQ meats over the nearby Mr Ping’s, which in my opinion is not as nice and also a bit more pricey. Recommend.
Sun Ming BBQParramatta 145-149 Church St, Parramatta NSW 2150 (02) 9689 2178