Meet Master Yu: chili sauce maker
Yu Kwen Yick . 66A Third Street . 余均益 . 第三街66號A
“We do not add preservatives. My grandfather didn’t have it in the recipe, and we like to keep it like that.”
OLD MR. YU . Mr. Yu started making chili sauce in the kitchen of a Sai Ying Pun shophouse in 1922. He sold the spicy sauce out on the streets carrying a bamboo pole with two buckets. In 1950 he managed to save enough money to open his own shop. Business took off from there. It’s the 3rd generation that now runs the factory in Aberdeen producing a range of sauces – oyster, sesame and lemon sauce – but chili sauce is still the signature product. It’s so good, you can find in restaurants all over the city and far beyond.
SECRET RECIPE . ‘Sauce making is craftsmanship’. To make chili sauce you need fresh chili, vinegar, sugar and salt. You mix them together and cook it. The factory uses the same old recipes and tools as in the early days. ‘We suggested the chefs to replace their tools, but they wouldn’t have any of it. This grinder has been here for ages and its speed is nice and slow so we can keep the flavour intact. We can at most produce 600-700kg in one morning.” says Antony Yu, Mr. Yu’s grandson. They stir the sauce with wooden poles and use an old stone grinder. Each bottle takes about four to five days to produce. ‘We do not add preservatives. My grandfather didn’t have it in the recipe, and we like to keep it like that. It brings out the natural taste of the ingredients and is much healthier.’
LOCAL LEGEND . Mr. Yu has become a local legend, and the Yu Kwen Yick brand so synonymous with Hong Kong that it inspired a cult following, a local craft beer and even its own cocktail. At Alvy’s, a popular bar and restaurant in Kennedy Town, bartender Saheb happily mixes us a Bunny Mary, garlic infused vodka, fresh carrot juice and of course a dash of chili sauce. They also created a special Yu Kwen Yick marinade for their buffalo wings. ‘Yu Kwen Yick is a very playful sauce’ Anthony agrees.
OUR PICK . Pick up a bottle of here at the Sai Ying Pun shop or buy it online. The unique spicy and sour taste is popular year-round but at Chinese New Year things get busy as it pairs well with the obligatory auspicious turnip cakes. Anthony – modest as he is – likes his chili sauce best on ham & egg sandwich.
Chili sauce is Yu Kwen Yick’s signature product. It’s so good, you can find in restaurants all over the city and far beyond
The factory uses the same old recipes and tools as in the early days. This grinder has been here for ages.
Yu Kwen Yick brand so synonymous with Hong Kong that it inspired a cult following, a local craft beer and even its own cocktail
The old cash register and other precious memories of the early days
The old Mr. Yu sold Chili Sauce on Third Street carrying a bamboo pole with two buckets
Each bottle takes about four to five days to produce. The design of the bottle has stayed the same all these years
Mapping the hidden treasures of the neighbourhood
Find Yu Kwen Yick on the iDiscover Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood map
Download the iDiscover Hong Kong app so you get lost without getting lost in Sai Ying Pun
HOW TO GET THERE? . Yu Kwen Yick is at 66A Third Street in Sai Ying Pun. For directions download the free iDiscover app or download a printable map. Get your own copy of the iDiscover Hong Kong Neighbourhood Guide.
MADE IN SYP . This story is part of a series of stories dedicated to the Spirit of Craftsmanship in Sai Ying Pun. We discovered SYP through the lens of locals. We visited 16 local craftsmen, to learn about their trade, their tools, their stories.
See what they create; learn what they love and feel their passion.
Read more stories at our online neighbourhood museum.