Gradinner at HK BBQ Master, British Columbi

“Where would you like to eat?” That was Matt’s blank check for his grad dinner; he didn’t want to “flex” in a “bougie” place that would be “so extra.” Instead, he chose this restaurant whose main entrance is via a parking lot. Manila paper with brown tape lined the walls behind our plastic table with unpadded metal folding chairs at the restaurant’s makeshift annex.

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The COO of HK BBQ Master, Anson Leung, sat with us and along with secret notes on the endangered art of Hong Kong Barbecue, he shared his stories with us like we were longlost friends.

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I so appreciate his humility and hard work. He practically grew up at this single-branch restaurant starting out by taking out trash and then onto every station thereafter learning the tricks of the trade in the intense heat of a barbecue kitchen under the tight-ship no-nonsense discipline of his father, Chef Eric Leung.

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He worked outside for a few years but he knew that a time would come when he would come back to work here. That officially started five years ago when he was twenty-three.

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Like it is for anyone who’s worked for a family business, it wasn’t always easy for him to choose the obvious path. I was so moved when with much conviction, Anson expressed deep gratitude and appreciation for the privilege to be taught by his dad and to be where he is.

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You could feel his love and passion for this business. And it came across thru the very delicious food.

Instagrammable restaurants vie for patrons, but here where food is king, who needs frou-frou? Visitors from China, Hongkong, Washington state… and well, Manila… queue up for the juicy, flavourful, fresh, traditionally cooked “barbecue that always hits the spot,” if I could quote Vancouver foodie, @eatwidus.

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In Richmond a.k.a. Hongcouver where Chinese restaurants have widely proliferated, HK BBQ Master remains a long-standing local most-voted favourite; awards hang on one wall. A-Lister Seth Rogen and (Momofoku Restaurant Group Founder) David Chang of Ugly Delicious TV show gave it their unanimous thumbs up.

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Not only was our new graduate inspired. So was our family chef, Kyle… and come to think of it, practically all of us know what it’s like to be in the food business. This turned out a perfect finish to our inspirational day. .

If I could sum up what this dinner meant to me in one word, it would be: gratitude.

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