It is a no brainer really, Wonton Noodles is one of the must eats in Hong Kong. So after we touched down and checked in our stuff into our hostel, we had Wonton Noodle as our first meal. 麥奀雲吞麵世家 – Mak’s Noodle (first two Chinese words pronounced as ‘Mak Ngan’, loosely translated to mean stingy and skinny) at Central is one of the more popular ones in town along with a few others like Mak Man Kee, Tsim Chai Kee, Ho Hung Kee and etc.
Wonton noodles in Hong Kong generally come in small bowls, noodle on top with dumplings at the bottom. Looking at the light serving size it feels more like a snack and or for supper. In fact, having just a bowl won’t be filling enough for the average men.
There is actually a reason behind this serving style, it is to prevent the noodles from becoming soggy by keeping them ‘afloat’ on top of the soup. Then customers will soak the noodles in the hot soup (made of powdered dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones) as long as necessary to get their preferred noodle texture.
There are four wontons in a typical serving.
The egg noodle in Hong Kong is very different from those in Malaysia. Besides thinner, it is noticibly firmer and more springy with a crunchier bite so in overall Hong Kong’s version is definitely better. But being a lye water noodle itself, it is not devoid of heavy alkaline taste. Sadly, this causes the soup and noodle taste like soap water, regardless of how delicious the soup’s original flavor might be.
The alkaline taste was so strong that after one sip or two, I already contemplated to stop eating. Price was the only thing that prevented me from doing so, as it is not exactly cheap at HKD30 (~RM11.50) for a small bowl like this. So personally, it was a huge let down for me considering I had really high expectations prior to coming.
Luckily we also ordered a bowl of Wonton Soup (HKD30) which was the saving grace. Without the noodles’ presence, the soup’s flavor is not tainted so it was at the purest form. And with the extra shrimp wontons thrown in, the taste is sweeter than the noodle version too.
There are eight wontons here and each is made into bite sized dumplings. As far as quality goes it is no doubt more superior than what we usually eat in Malaysia. The freshness of the shrimps is evident, crunchy and bursting with sea flavor, simply sublime. I suggest you to order this to appreciate the soup’s original and intended flavor and compare it side by side with the noodles’ version, the difference is quite huge.
If you don’t know yet, almost all noodle/rice/congee or ‘char chan teng’ will give you a glass of Chinese tea. So whether you want to clean your utensils by dipping them into the tea, drink it or even leave it, it’s entirely up to you since they are charging for it anyway. But just so you know it is perfectly safe to drink.
We came after lunch hour so it wasn’t that busy. We managed to get a nice table to ourselves and even got our food really fast.
G/F, 77 Wellington Street,
Tel: 2854 3810
Opening Hours: 1100-2000
After that we walked across the street to Tsim Chai Kee (沾仔記), another shop that is said to serve equally good Wonton Noodles but at friendlier prices. Compared to Mak’s Noodle at first sight, the shop’s interior is more modern albeit darker and the seating arrangement is not as cramped.
Here, you get to choose three different combinations of noodles with a choice of toppings of wonton, fish ball and sliced beef. Since the signature one as recommended is the ‘Three Treasure Wonton Noodle‘ (HKD26) which is a combination of all the toppings mentioned earlier, we decided to try it. As you can see, for a similar bowl with more toppings, Tsim’s Wonton Mee is still cheaper than Mak’s.
Tsim Chai Kee is also famous for their larger than life wontons, easily double or even triple the size of the typical wontons found in Hong Kong. There are easily three whole fresh shrimps wrapped in a single wonton. Needless to say the satisfaction is beyond words. But then again, the noodles suffer the same fate like Mak’s by having a strong alkaline taste where it was even stronger than Mak’s. A real pity.
After two consecutive sessions of wonton noodles in the same afternoon, we never had any more in the following days of our trip. Not to say that the noodles are bad, just that we really cannot palate the lye water’s strong aftertaste. However, I do commend the efforts of the cooks by using real ingredients to prepare a simple bowl of wonton noodle and especially the soup. It tasted MSG free and is very sweet and flavorful despite being light in color.Tsim Chai Kee Noodle 沾仔記
Shop B, G/F Jade Centre, 98 Wellington Street,
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 2850 6471