Monday, September 15, 2008

5 Food You Must Eat In Hong Kong: No 3

No3: Noodles

I'm a noodles person, preferring noodles to rice anytime. Noodles are so integral to Chinese cuisine that each region and city in China has its own special noodle dish. For example, Quilin has its delicious mifun, Lanzhou is the place where hand-pulled noodles originated, Lijiang has 'crossing the bridge' mifun (haven't eaten that yet), and on and on. There's even a type of noodles called dao xiau men (knife-sliced noodles) where the dough is perched on the cook's head and he slices off pieces of the dough with both hands in lighting speed straight into a bubbling pot of tasty stock. I don't know if that's more theatrics than regional/cultural practices, but I sure want to see and eat those noodles one day.

The most famous HK noodles are wantan noodles, thin springy egg noodles. I have a couple of friends who dislike wantan noodles because they can detect a hint of lye water/gun sui in them but strangely, I have a super sensitive nose but I don't find wantan noodles any pungent. The wantan noodles Hub and I had in a restaurant on Spadina St in Toronto on a visit 10 years ago was so pungent with gun sui it was like eating Toilet Duck, and we talk about it every time we taste gun sui in noodles.

HK's wantan noodles are usually served with wantans, fresh crunchy and tasty prawns wrapped in a thin smooth wheat-flour wrapper. You can also have your wantan noodles with fish or meat balls, beef brisket and entails, and other ingredients. Apart from soup wantan noodles, you can have them 'dry' or tossed in soy sauce and oil. Slurp.

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Jim Jai Kei's wantan noodles at HK$17/RM7.70/US$2.40.

This is a bowl of wantan noodles I ate in Jim Jai Gei restaurant on Wellington St, Central, HK last year. Jim's wantans are the biggest I have ever eaten (see pic above--the wantan filled the whole spoon), and they are super tasty, the prawns fresh and springy to the bite. The noodles are also excellent, smooth and el dente. Many people, tourists especially, think that Mak's Noodles/Mak Ngen Gei's wantans are better, although my sharp-tastebudded HK friends tells me Jim's are better, taste and price-wise. I tried both last year, and I preferred Jim's although their soup was not as good as Mak's. On my recent trip to HK, I ate wantan noodles at Mak's because I happened to pass by. While the soup was truly excellent, tasty and flavorful with some kind of shrimp or fish roe flavor, and the noodles perfect too, the wantans were tiny and the whole bowl of noodles was served in a rice bowl, and that cost HK$28/RM12.70/US$3.70, which is why Mak's restaurants are always quite empty.

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Mak's branch at G/F, 44 Jardine's Bazaar, Causeway Bay boasts the praises of Anthony Bourdain.

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Wantan noodles at Mak's.

This is a rice bowl, so you can see how small the portion is. The joke on Mak's is that the restaurant's middle name 'ngen' in Cantonese sounds like the word for lean--a reference to their tiny wantans.

There are so many kinds of noodles dishes HK can be proud of. I just can't post all of them here. Some other popular ones are:

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Beef brisket* and wantan noodles.

This is an equally popular bowl of noodles among HKgers. I bought this from a small restaurant in front of the market building near Ibis Hotel, North Point for HK$16/RM7/US$2. It was gorgeous.

*A more accurate word would be beef skirt or hanger steak, the meat that hangs from the stomach of the cow.

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Dry-fry flat rice noodles (ho fun) with beef slices is another famous Cantonese noodle dish.

I have just been told by H that the best dry-fry ho fun with beef is in Guangzhou, China. I am tearing my hair out, because I was in Guangzhou last year and didn't eat any.

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Yee noodles with dried scallops and assorted mushrooms

Yee min reminds me of my maternal grandfather, who lived in Kwun Tong and then moved out to Shatin when he got older. Shatin is considered a suburban area, and is most famous for pigeons dishes. Gramps took me and Hub to the best restaurant in Shatin for Shatin yee gub (pigeons) and yee min, and until this day, that meal remains in my mind, and heart.

One type of noodles which I've heard about but never eaten is the cheh jai min (little cart noodles) which used to be sold from mobile carts. Through the years, the carts were discarded and the noodles were sold from tiny shops in the alleys. These days little cart noodles are hard to find, and I think they really are dying out.

So there you are, No 3 on my list of must-eat food of Hong Kong. If you don't have the time, just eat a bowl of wonton noodles, guaranteed to leave you happy and satisfied.

11 comments:

Shan said...

Terri these soup noodles look fantastic and fresh.

AND considering how cheap they are compared to what we are being charged in KK these days.

Precious Pea said...

We can never achieve that kind of noodle consistency here. Could it be the flour? I enjoys their egg noodle, when you eat, 'sok sok' sound!

ganache-ganache said...

oh, I'm a noodle person too ! wantan noodle soup is my favourite, the noodle we buy in KK taste horrible, do you knoe how to make that springy super thin noodle ?

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

shan: yes, even hk is cheap these days, so u can tell how bad our inflation is.

pea: i know what u mean, tt 'sok sok' sound :)

ganache: wantan soup in kk is BAD!i wish i could make those noodles too...

CK-II said...

I ate at Tsim and Mak too. I find that the noodles at Tsim is better in general, and the portion is big too. Mak's noodles tend to have a slight ammonia taste.

terri@adailyobsession said...

ck: high 5, all great mouths taste alike!

J2Kfm said...

the other day we were searching for Mak's on Wellington, then it was closed at night. so we went Tsim Chai Kee right opposite. the staff so friendly and the wanton so amazing. one of the cheaper wanton noodles some more. and the kangkung wif fu yee very satisftying lah.

LiquidShaDow said...

I've had the opportunity to try Tsim Chai Kee in Hong Kong. It was probably the best I've ever had and the memory of the noodle texture lingers on.

A. Rizzi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. Rizzi said...

wow. can't wait to sample those fattie wontons. Thanks for the TiP. I'll do my best to sample all five.

terri@adailyobsession said...

rizzi: fatty as in big is correct bc the won tons are not greasy. you'll love the food in hk! hk is truly one of the top 5 eating capitals of the world.

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