Barbecues are serious business in the American South. There are heated rivalries between states as well as within them, and this is particularly true in North Carolina, which claims to have the ‘oldest barbecue lineage’ in the US. Indeed the opening of 85 South marks the arrival to Hong Kong of this very we’re-the-best-barbecue-in-the-world attitude from the Tar Heel State.
Named after the interstate highway that runs through the Southern states, 85 South is an authentic southern barbecue eatery with its woodsy minimalist feel where the emphasis – surprise surprise – is strictly on meat. On our visit, we order the pulled pork tray ($100), which comes with a side of mac ‘n’ cheese and an unusual tomato-based coleslaw that has a fresh ‘n’ tangy sweet punch – ideal for cutting through the heavy pork fat. The flesh retains a hearty amount of drippings for a moist, tender texture. We also tuck into the ribs ($125), which, despite the deep, peppery aroma of cumin, fail to retain the juice like the pork. In fact, they’re pretty dry and need juicin’ up with the three delish homemade sauces: peppery vinegar, sweet barbecue and honey mustard.
It’s a rare and beautiful thing to experience true Southern barbecue cooking in Asia but 85 South does it with heart. It’s far from perfect yet – but well worth tapping up. If you like your meat big ‘n’ barbied, that is. Charlie Tamoto