Central, butcher's shop | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Central, butcher's shop

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Central, butcher's shop
Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Wednesday, January 1, 1958


Hi there,

This is likely one of the famous store fronts sellingt BBQ meat (Char Siu, Roasted pork ribs, roasted ducks/geese/chicken and others) by the right, and preserved meats by the left (made with methods similar to western sausages/ham/smoked ham....)  Shops in city area (especially in Central) didn't usualy slaughter their goods in-house.

I read different types of sausages there.  Many of them contained much more portion of fats then their respective present day versions.  Those birds being spreaded like a flat cake are preserved ducks.  Those preserved meats are usually raw.  You have to cook them (mostly by steaming) before consumption.

Thanks & Best Regards,


To arrive in Hong Kong as a 20 year old who had never previously been out of Britain was quite amazing - the sights, the smells, the noise - in fact everything was so different and so interesting.  Chinese food had not yet 'taken off' in England and I'm afraid that I and my pals were rather reluctant to sample the delicious food that, in later years, I found to be so good.

Yes, the high fat content is noticeable and a bit scary too.  The lean meat in them and duck liver taste very good, and they make one convenient dish with steam-cooking.  I believe their popularity has diminished when people began to use refrigerator to store raw meat, and awareness about healthy diets. Shops with these displays were not difficult to find in the old days.

Shops selling BBQ meats remain popular in fact continue to multiple outside HK.  51 years ago when I was living in Regina, Saskatchewan, the only way we could buy a BBQ duck was to order it from either Calgary or Winnipeg, and a merchant would bring it back along with his other purchases once a week.

Hi there,

These days, preserved meat in various forms could be purchased in Supermarkets in sealed packings.  Very few stores would put the preserved meat (pork/duck, etc) on display nowadays.  Even if they do, it would be sometime towards year end.

Thanks & Best Regards,


Hi T

Traditional butchers' shops still exist in the UK, but most of the meat is now displayed in chilled counters.  I guess that our cooler climate helps to preserve both the meat - and also the old ways.  On more recent visits to Hong Kong I noticed that the snake shops, with their wire cages outside, seem to have disappeared.  I think that the last time I saw one was in 1987.

Regards Andrew

Hi Andrew,

The snake shops are still here, although less in numbers.  Also, some of them do not display the cages anymore (I presume they are inside the kitchen).  The menus remain the same though.  Frequently, these snake shops also have some dishes with the preserved pork/duck/chicken as well.



Thanks.  I believe that the last one that I saw was some time around 2005 somewhere in the back streets of Kowloon. Andrew

Hi there,

Some of these shops still put their snakes on display.  Like this one in Sham Shui Po.  The Street View was taken back in 2011 but the shop is still there.  There is another one  in Ap Liu Street also with their goods on display together with snake skin products.  However that shop is blocked from Street View by the Pai Dongs.

Back then, those gues go to the wilderness to catch wild snakes, or import wild snakes from Mainland China.  These days, the snakes generally came from snake farms.

Thanks & Best Regards,


Hi, Amazing to think that the snake population in Hong Kong is apparently now much reduced - or perhaps they have become a protected spices?  I suspect that the vast amount of re-forestation that has taken place since the 1950s will have given the reptile population a larger habitat. Andrew

According to 1958年香港年鑑 , there was a bbq meat shop 大三元 at 144 johnston road. That means it was at the junction of tai wo st and johnston road. Therefore it is rather in Wanchai than Central.

Hi There,

I have a vague impression that it should be at the corner of the former Lung Mun Restaurant on the Stone Nullah Lane side back then.  Lung Mun took up the whole block's length betwen Tai Wo Street and Stone Nullah Lane on Johnston Road's side.


The vertical signboard to the left of the Lung Moon Restaurant/Teahouse sign in the centre of the photo below shows the location of the Chinese BBQ/Preserved Meat Shop probably at the junction of Tai Wo Street and Johnston Road.  The Chinese characters 大三元 can be seen on the signboard from the top in descending order.

1950s Fred Evans' photos
1950s Fred Evans' photos, by Admin

It makes sense now.  Lung Moon Restaurant was at 130-136 Johnston road (1960年香港年鑑). bbq meat shop 大三元 at 144 johnston road. They were virtually neighbors. From the bbq shop, just cross the tai wo street and walk west towards Stone Nullah Lane. One can reach the restaurent.

From the other direction or looking east:

大三元臘味.jpg, by simtang


Another closer look at 大三元臘味.

大三元臘味2.jpg, by simtang