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Mar 25, 2008 05:05 AM

Wing Wah Noodle House vs. King’s Palace Congee & Noodle Bar

Hi I am looking to eat at a noodle house that both serve very good wonton or beef noodles and at the same time within walking distance (3-5 minutes by foot) of an MTR station. I chanced upon the mention of Wing Wah Noodle House on Wan Chai and King’s Palace Congee & Noodle Bar at the Festival Walk Mall on Kowloon Tong. What would fellow chowhounds recommend I try if I will only have one chance to eat HK wonton?

Also, I have seen several blogs showing Wing Wah's address as 89 Hennessy Road while another site showed 262-268 Lockhart Road, Wanchai. I wonder which one is the valid address.

I would also like to try roasted suckling pig and goose but will not be able to travel to Yung Kee. Does King's Palace or Wing Wah serve roasted pig/goose?

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  1. Wing Wah Noodles is definitely 89 Hennessey. However, there seem to be many restaurants around Hong Kong called "Wing Wah." I think I've spotted the one on Lockhart, and there's one in TST, too. I strongly doubt there's any commonality but the name. Just go to 89 Hennessey, look for the place with the picture in the window of the guy with no shirt making noodles with a bamboo pole.

    I don't recall the roast meat situation there. I can certainly recommend the wonton noodle soup, and the beef tendon noodle soup. I don't think I've tried their beef brisket.

    Haven't tried the Festival Walk place.

    1. King's Palace at Festival Walk is very pricey although there is always a long line there.

      1. King's Palace is pretty good. However, if you have ONLY ONE CHANCE to eat HK won ton, I would go to either the Central or Causeway Bay location of ' Mak's Noodle ' . Both shops are definitely within 3-5 minutes walk from the MTR. Their wontons are firm , the soup broth very subtle and delicious and the noodles are ultra al-dente. Since portions are smaller, you can have a wonton as well as a beef brisket noodle in one visit. Their 'Penny hot sauce' noodle is very good too!

        12 Replies
        1. re: Charles Yu

          Wan Chai's Freedom Noodles (Ji Yauh Min Chaan) is much, much better than Mak's, IMO. The broth is even more subtle, not as salty, and the seui gau (larger won tons) are filled with whole shrimp and mushrooms, not any pork filler. The noodles are 100% perfect. You get a regular sized bowl, not Mak's mini-bowl.

          It's a little tricky, but not impossible, to find. Take the MTR to Causeway Bay, get out at exit B, Hennessey Road. Then walk one long block back, in the direction of Wan Chai. The noodle shop is about two blocks down Canal Road West under the overpass.

          Look for these characters on the shop sign:


          I don't think there is any English menu, but just order "seui gaau min", and you'll be fine. Beef brisket noodles would be "au lam min", and beef tendon would be "au gin min". But I really recommend trying the seui gaau min first.

          The nearby Bowrington Street Market is well worth exploring.

          1. re: JiMaWu

            Most interesting!!
            During the past few visits to HK, I have been on a quest to search out the best Won Ton noodles in the city. To date I must have eaten in over 15 noodle houses. However, I must plead ignorance as to not ever heard of this 'incredible' outfit you mentioned. Are their Won Ton noodles really THAT authentic? That is, sprinkled with diced yellowing chives instead of the 'cost saving' spring onions and do they also sprinkle dried shrimp eggs on top of the final product? As to their soup, can you taste the Buddha fruit, dried tile fish, shrimp shells and shrimp eggs, key ingredients for the Won Ton soup broth? If all these criteria are met, then I'll definitely make this my prime destination to visit on my next trip to the city!

            1. re: JiMaWu

              I went looking for Freedom Noodles. I'm not entirely positive I found it, but it seemed to match your description of its location. What I found was a place about 2 blocks south of Hennessey, along Canal Road West, with stylized characters on a sign above the wide doorway, and a sandwich board on the ground with clearer characters, that seemed to match what I'd copied into my notebook from your post. I can be positive about the first two characters, about 50% on the third, and can only say about the 4th that I observed no contradiction. It was just to the right of an entrance, paneled in brown speckled granite, to "Wing Tak Mansion Block B, 15 Canal Road W." The cooking area was to the left as you walk in, and there was no register per se, just a sort of sectioned box that served as one.

              If this truly was the place, I'm afraid I was unable to find the merit in it that you did, to say the least. The noodles, while not exactly soft, were not properly firm, did not "bite back," and missed the lively character I associate with the noodles at the good Hong Kong soup noodles places. In fact, they seemed nearly identical to the factory noodles I am able to get in the San Francisco Bay area.

              In two areas, my experience was exactly the opposite of yours. Perhaps this is an indication that I was in the wrong place after all. You mention "pork filler;" I read that as intending to imply that Mak's had it in their dumplings, and Freedom Noodles did not. But for me, Mak's tight little dumplings have always contained one pure, plump shrimp, perfectly fresh, perfectly cooked, bouncy...and nothing else, no pork, no nothing, just one shrimp. These dumplings, by contrast, were long and loosely constructed, and appeared to contain small shrimp, black mushroom, pork, and a carrot shred or two. Reasonably tasty, but not special; not up to the standard set by many many other Hong Kong places.

              The broth, I actually found saltier than Mak's, and also it just did not seem special, as Mak's does. That may be partly explained by the use of scallions instead of yellow chives; like Charles, I find that the yellow chives are a key to this dish, and necessary to make the flavor of the broth lock in. Scallions are nice, but not nearly the wonder that the yellow chives are.

              Along with the noodles, I had a side dish of overboiled, waterlogged, peeled gai lan, again a stark contrast with the briskly crunchy, intensely green article served at Mak's.

              So either I wound up at the wrong place, or we simply had very very different reactions to the food there. For me, it was basically a bad meal, by Hong Kong standards, one whose memory I will have to wipe away with a trip to Mak's, Wing Wah, or Chung Kee (37 Wing Kut St, Sheung Wan). Probably later this afternoon; I can still taste stale gai lan in my mouth.

              1. re: SoupNoodles

                Oh dear, I think you walked in to the wrong place. There are a couple of noodle shops along that strip, and all noodle shops have a few of the same characters in their name (麵, the third character you weren't sure about actually means "noodle" and would be found in the name of every noodle restaurant).

                The noodles at Ji Yauh are springy and chewy as a Hong Kong noodle should be, the "seui gaau", or water dumpling is tightly packed with really fragrant black mushroom and whole shrimp. I can't speak about the gai laan because I don't like gai laan and so never order it. This place is an old-school shop that's been around for quite some time and is well known (it was introduced to me by a Hong Kong journalist--there are some articles about the place up on the wall of the shop in Chinese).

                Don't know what to say about Mak's, except that I live walking distance from the place and I almost never go there, and nor do any of my Hong Kong Cantonese friends. I've never understood why all the english language guidebooks go out of their way to feature it, although its central, English-user-friendly location may have something to do with it. The verdict on Maks in, which I trust as a general indicator of Hong Kong taste, is mixed, with reviewers echoing my feeling its noodles, as we say, are 無特別.

                1. re: JiMaWu

                  Oh darn. Makes sense, though. But I took another walk down that strip today and spotted no other places matching the first two characters. Can you give some more hints about how to find the place, or recognize it when one has found it? Does it have booths, or all tables? Where is the register located? Is it open to the street, or does it have a door? Stuff like that, anything you remember that might help narrow it down.

                  And when you say that there are articles up on the wall, do you mean the wall inside, or at the front, visible through the front glass, as many places do? I did spot one place with a lot of articles on the front, but couldn't match the characters. I'd sure welcome any help you can offer for locating the correct place. The thought of finding a new top tier soup noodles place in Hong Kong is exciting.

                  After failing (again) to find Ji Yauh, I wandered down Hennessy and stopped into a red-and-black noodle place, with menu in both languages, that was new to me: Yeung's Noodle, right near 213-219 Hennessey. I had a plate of beef tripe noodles with shrimp eggs, soup on the side. I was pleased to see that the tripe, sliced in long thin shreds, was unbleached (black). Newcomers to shrimp eggs should be warned that they are quite fishy in quantity, and some of the chili sauce offered on the table was necessary to bring the dish down into balance, out of fishy territory. Still, the noodles were firm, the tripe nicely chewy, and the broth, which was more pork-oriented than the typical soup noodle broth, quite tasty. I probably won't make it a point to return, but I'd certainly stop in again if I found myself outside, and it did go some way to addressing the tripe craving I've had ever since I failed to find the tripe-soup-noodles place that supposedly exists at 15A Austin St in TST.

                  I've tried to use Babelfish to translate the openrice comment you quote about Mak's, and as far as I can figure, it means "not special," though Babelfish's version is "Does not have specially."

                  1. re: JiMaWu

                    Mak's Noodles is a restaurant with a long, interesting history behind it. The current owner's grandfather used to sell his noodles in the streets of Guangzhou. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek & his wife, Soong May-Ling, were great fans of his noodles.

                    Mak Woon-Chi served his noodles in the streets and, when Soong May-Ling came & sat down for her bowl of noodles, Kuomintang troops will block access to the street at both ends to ensure her privacy.

                    When Soong May-Ling/Chiang Kai-Shek wanted the old man to cook at a soiree or party they were throwing at their mansion, they'd send round a chauffered limousine for the old man, and an army truck to ferry the old man's portable cooker (since he apparently insisted on cooking using only that contraption).

                    The old man fled to HK during the Chinese civil war (don't think the communists fancied him too much after his close relationship with Chiang Kai-Shek) & set up shop in Hong Kong to carry on what he did best.

                    The current Mak's Noodles outlet in Wellington Street (owned by his grandson, Mak Chi-Ming) apparently uses the exact same recipe for the soup stock - i.e. pork bones, dried flounder, shrimp heads/shells, etc. So, when you're enjoying your little bowl of Mak's noodles, you are not just eating any old garden-variety Chinese wanton noodles, you are also tasting a little bit of Chinese/HK history.

                    I used to eat there a lot when I was a director at HSBC Private Bank, as do many of my HK staff/colleagues. But many others complained about the "stingy" small bowls of noodles dished out by Mak's Noodles (which are also a bit more expensive) & opted for cheaper but inferior alternatives around the neighbourhood.

                    I don't live in HK anymore, but the last time I ate at Mak's Noodles was just 3 weeks ago, and I was glad to note that the taste hadn't changed one iota. I think Mak's Noodles is my second favorite noodle spot in HK, after Lei Yuen Noodle & Congee Restaurant at 539 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay. Tel: +852-2832-4978.

                    And Lei Yuen's congee must be the best in the world - you won't be able to tell just by looking at that tiny, rundown-looking shopfront situated right behind Sogo. And don't miss their beef brisket noodles or that bowl of braised guts/spare parts.

                    1. re: klyeoh

                      Hello kL,
                      If you like Lei Yuen's congee, one of these days, you should try comparing their's with one of 'Kowloon's best' - Nathan congee and noodle. ( side street on the east side just off Nathan road, very close to Jordan's Tai Ping Koon )!. Their pig's liver and kidney congee is amazing. Forget about cholesterol for a few minutes and let yourself bite into a piece of the gorgeous innards! Yum! However, don't try before 9am, the line from the breakfast crowd stretches out onto the street!

                      1. re: klyeoh

                        Beautiful description of Mak's!

                        So flounder is "dai day yu"? Interesting.

                  2. re: JiMaWu

                    Hi JiMaWu, have not tried 自由麵餐, is the size of the wonton as big as Jim Chai Kee (沾仔記) at Central ? I do like the broth at Jim Chai Kee, it is tasty with a strong favour of dried flounder and shrimp shell.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      I am curious to know where Jim Chai Kee is located in Central. Since its my first time to go wandering HK streets in search of noodle shops, it would help if someone can give accurate directions to the place from the nearest MTR station. I checked google maps to find directions to Wing Wah from Wan Chai MTR. Correct me if I'm wrong but I understood it as about a block away from Wan Chai exit. Should I take Exit B1 or B2? Is there a landmark that I can watch out for just to make sure I dont miss it? If anyone has pictures of Wing Wah and Jim Chai Kee that will help me identify it would also be great. If I'm going to Jim Chai Kee, what transportation or route should I take if I will be coming from the Central MTR station?

                      1. re: St3ph3n

                        Tsim Chai Kee/Jim Chai Kee is located at 98 Wellington St, Central. Central MTR, Exit D2. Turn right when you get onto the (Pedder) street, cross Queen's Road, take your next right (Wellington). Continue down Wellington street; don't branch left onto Lyndhurst Terrace. Tsim Chai Kee is on your left, it's well-labeled, and when I walked past the place not 20 minutes ago, their yellow laminated menus are posted in the window. It's a bit of a foodie street of dreams, that Wellington way. En route to Tsim Chai Kee, you will pass Yung Kee on your left, Wang Fu on your right, and Mak's Noodles (aka Mak an Kee) on your right.

                        As for Wing Wah, take Wan Chai MTR Exit A2 (because that will put you on the correct side of Hennesey; the B exits won't), and turn right onto Hennessey. It's right in that long block; I don't think you'll have to cross any streets at all.While many Hong Kong addresses are unlabeled, Wing Wah is labeled with an "89"about 8 feet off the ground above the door, or maybe above and to the right of it. If you're in any doubt, look for the restaurant's pictures of the guy making noodles with the bamboo pole, posted on the window, visible from the street. The register is on your right as you come in, and the little kitchen on your left.

                        1. re: St3ph3n

                          One correction to the Tsim Chai Kee directions. It's Exit D1, not Exit D2, from the Central MTR, that the directions are from.

                  3. What do you guys think of these won ton noodle shops (they are mentioned in a food guide book I bought in Taiwan, written by a local HK travel author):

                    Mm Lung (5 Dragon)
                    Lei Dong Street 49-51, Wanchai

                    Yuen Hing
                    181A Wanchai Road