Butcher shop | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Butcher shop

Butcher shop

This shop was in the Sheung Wan area, possibly on a back street but maybe even on Des Voeux Road.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Tuesday, August 4, 1981


Hi there,

I have a question.  

What is the definition of a butcher shop please?  Are butchers selling only raw meat of sort?  If that is so, this might not fit as what we are able to see haning on hooks are cooked meat

Thanks & Best Regards,


Hi T

I think 'butcher's shop' is as near to describing those shops as we can get.  A 'BBQ shop' would mean nothing to anyone in the UK.  In the UK, butchers' shops would traditionally concentrate on raw meat but they have also 'always' sold some cooked meats - cooked ham for example.  Increasingly, with the competition from supermarkets and huge hypermarkets, butchers have had to diversify into selling all sorts of pies including fruit ones - and I know of some round where I live that even sell vegetables.  Highly specialist food shops have become quite unusual.  So far, I believe that Hong Kong has been spared from the onslaught of the hypermarkets.

I tried to delete those images via the 'edit' facility but it doesn't work.

Regards Andrew

I learned the term Seal-Larp-Po (Cantonese-HK dialect) in my younger days.  Po is shop/store while seal and larp translate to burn or BBQ, and preserved, respectively.  The "burn" implies meats that are BBQ'ed (actually done in enclosed oven) and are shown on the right half of the display.  These shops typically also sell cooked chicken as shown on the left.  They also sell other assortment of cooked meat like chicken wings, pork paws, and octopus.

I do not see any larp meat which refers to the preserved sausages and pressed ducks shown in another Andrew's photo, but we still use the term today especially the senior generation in north America.  Change in people's demand has virtually phased out lap meat at these shops.  I wonder if there is an English term that best describes these shops.

To add, a personal preference which I think many readers would agree, BBQ meats are best when they are just out of the oven,  and still fine when they are at room temperature.  Re-cooked or re-heat BBQ meat does not taste as good.  A few decades ago, the city of Toronto considered requiring these shops to keep their BBQ meats refrigerated, and there was an uproar from shop owners citing high costs.  The idea was dropped.