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Wonton Noodle Soup in HK

c
craig_g Jul 12, 2011 11:59 AM

(This has been split off from a discussion on the Manhattan Board
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7658... -- The Chowhound Team)

Lau,

I know this is thread drift, but where in HK do you recommend for wonton noodle soup? I have been to a few places that seemed to be highly regarded that just weren't that good.

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  1. l
    Lau Jul 12, 2011 12:38 PM

    hmm that's a tough one, super controversial subject (its like debates on ramen, sushi, pizza and burgers) that i'm probably not qualified to answer as i haven't tried enough of the wonton noodle shops in HK to opine on what's best (especially over the last few years). also the last time few times i was in HK i wasn't really looking for wonton noodle soup, so i just hit Mak's (which is highly rated) since it was easy and close to where i was staying. i like mak's but the broth is fairly subtle and my gf thinks its too plain.

    if you're going to HK for wonton noodle soup, i'd post on the china/southeast asia board as there are some good regular HK chowhound people who have done alot more research than i have on the wonton noodle soup shops there

    also, i'd use openrice (the equivalent of yelp, but better), go to the advanced search and search for wonton and noodle/rice noodle. the people on that are pretty cut throat so if they say something is good it usually is
    http://www.openrice.com/english

    31 Replies
    1. re: Lau
      c
      craig_g Jul 13, 2011 06:51 AM

      I was very disappointed with Mak's. Good, but not great. Very good noodles I thought the broth didn't have great flavor. Openrice has been pretty useful on a lot of subjects, especially dim sum and roast meats, but I have yet to have my HK soup epiphany.

      1. re: craig_g
        l
        Lau Jul 13, 2011 08:10 AM

        which mak's did you go to btw? there are different ones and they taste different

        i think they were all owned by one family at one point, but then they had some family disputes and they broke off

        1. re: craig_g
          Luther Jul 22, 2011 02:23 PM

          You might have a better shot at that epiphany if you consider that it's "wonton noodle" not "soup." Honestly I felt the same way when I first ate WTM but after gaining a greater appreciation for the style I began to understand the role of the broth, which is truly minimal, to just keep things wet in a totally non-interfering way and really nothing more. I know the most traditional places will use specific types of dried fish and so forth... but I think you'll generally find that the most highly regarded makers of noodles and wontons don't serve a broth that you'd really consider "soup."

          1. re: Luther
            Charles Yu Jul 22, 2011 04:30 PM

            In the minds of true wonton noodle afficionados and fellow chowhounders like skylineR33, Fourseasons, klyeoh, HKTraveller...etc, the role of the broth to the bowl of wonton noodle is one of the key component that makes or break the product!. In my case, I would relate it to say the role of the batter in Southern Fried Chicken!

            Since the noodle, by itself is bland ( the attractiveness being the chewy texture ), it needs the correct saltiness from the broth together with the aromatic/flavour combination of the lard, dried shrimp eggs, yellowing chives and white pepper, all working in conjunction to give it the ultimate taste sensation.

            That is why, last year, for the first time, I left my Mak's ( Wellington branch ) noodle half untouched since that evening, the broth was not up to snuff which put a damper on the 'whole' thing!

            1. re: Charles Yu
              l
              Lau Jul 22, 2011 05:14 PM

              whats your favorite place now?

              i agree with you that the broth is a center piece actually although i think the broth should be fragrant and complex, not some flavor bomb that i think some people except

              1. re: Lau
                Charles Yu Jul 22, 2011 06:28 PM

                Interesting you ask!
                This March, I spend over 4 weeks in Hong Kong. During this period, I must have eaten in over 10 different establishments. They include:
                Lau Sam Kee, Ho Hung Kee, Chee Kee, Wing Wah, Lau Fu Kee, Praise Cuisine, Mak's ( Wellington), Mak An Kee, Mak Sil Kee, Mak Man Kee and even one in 'Yung Kee'!
                Of the above, my hands down favourite was Mak An Kee in Wing Kut Street, Central. Possesses the total package. But the main reason? May be the 'lard' they used to dress the noodle?!

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  k
                  klyeoh Jul 22, 2011 06:31 PM

                  Definitely the lard, Charles :-D

                  1. re: Charles Yu
                    l
                    Lau Jul 23, 2011 06:29 AM

                    yung kee has wonton noodle soup hahaha

                    yah i like mak an kee too, but i dont live there so im always hesitant to give my favorite since it's such a touchy subject.

                    i remember going to other places i really liked a long time ago, but it was well before my food blogging days so i cant remember which ones they were and some of them were far into the kowloon side with my friends family

                    1. re: Lau
                      K K Jul 23, 2011 08:28 AM

                      Yung Kee is actually no joke if you know what to order there beyond roast goose. If you are with a larger sized party, the idea is to sample and share a bunch of dishes, especially their clear broth brisket, and getting a small won ton noodles for yourself, as an inbetween courses thing, isn't bad at all. That is, assuming you are not getting their HK$12000++ banquet menu.

                      Actually many of the local food bloggers and the media think the small bowl (circa HK $23 to $28?) of won ton noodles (sai yung) at Yung Kee is pretty good and better than many other places. From a visual perspective of the won tons, Yung Kee does it the most traditional way where the wrapping (and cooking) make the wontons look like goldfish, where the excess skin spreads like goldfish tails. The result is a slippery smooth eating experience (or so according to those who raved about it), akin to eating freshly made cheung fun at dim sum restaurants.

                      There are those who take this smooth goldfish tail eating experience into account and prefer it to the golf ball sized won tons that don't have the tails. Mak An Kee or the other places that start with Mak in the name, don't have the goldfish tail won ton form. I know where Charles is coming from, since he is literally judging the best of all three (broth, noodles, won tons, and other factors including the lard, presentation, and cook methods etc and other finer details). While I too haven't been back in ages, there are lots of blogs out there on these places, and in reviewing them, it seems that no shop nails down all three, and if you get 2 out of three, it is already not bad.

                      1. re: K K
                        Charles Yu Jul 23, 2011 03:14 PM

                        Nice write up KK!

                        BTW, Mak's (Wellington) has been hiking their small bowl by $2 a year! Now they are charging $30!! And quality has been inconsistent!

                        Actually, apart from the WTN, Yung Kee's ' Fung Sing Shui Gau ' - the shrimp dumplings with bamboo shoot, wood fungus and strands of shark's fin is also one of the best rendition in town! They make an awesome broth to go with it that IMO, is as good as the self proclaimed 'best' by Ho Hung Kee.

                        On the subject of Yung Kee, of all places, I had the best 'Yang Chow Fried Rice' there! Amazing wok-hay and every grains of rice were separated!. So, yes! there are tons of hidden gems ( not just expensive and exotic ones) in their menu if one knows what and how to order! Another example is their pan fried ' oil marinated cho-bak' salted fish! It is to die for!!! HK$80 a small slice! Love the crispy fish scale! I was told a whole 'wild' fish is over HK$700. And people thought salted fish is for beggars to eat with their congees only!!! Ha!

                        Back to won-ton noodles, guess the Mak An Kee version nailed down the criteria to about 2.75 out of 3. Not bad!

                        1. re: Charles Yu
                          l
                          Lau Jul 23, 2011 07:41 PM

                          interesting i'll have to go back to yung kee to try more dishes next time im in HK

                          i actually had a great eel dish last time i was at yung kee
                          http://www.lauhound.com/2010/11/yung-...

                          1. re: Lau
                            K K Jul 23, 2011 11:00 PM

                            Yung Kee is a very deceptive restaurant to navigate through unless you go with a seasoned regular or read about the must-order dishes from local media sources.

                            As far as their goose goes, seems like the best way to enjoy goose would be to dig deeper into the wallet and order a whole goose, so you are surely getting not the leftover bits and pieces, and passionate goose eaters will tell you their favorite parts (most people like the leg, but the current owner of Yung Kee prefers a cut below the neck called 鵝碎窩, but he thinks goose backs are great with beer).

                            Going back to WTN...I was pretty confused with all these Mak's...easier to track by their Chinese names. Mak's Wellington is not Mak Un Kee in Chinese but Mak Un Won Ton Noodle House...Mak Un Kee, is actually Mak Un Kee Jung Kee (full name). The funny thing is that these Mak's are all related to one another, just started by different family members (inclusive of Ho Hung Kee) but now each of them likely taste different over the years.

                            1. re: K K
                              l
                              Lau Jul 24, 2011 07:18 AM

                              yah i got that feeling about the goose last time that you probably needed to order a whole one, but i was only with 2 other people so i couldn't order more. they are actually foodies that live in HK, so they ordered, but we simply couldn't order very much with 3 people

                              麥奀記忠記 is the one you're talking about right?

                              http://www.openrice.com/english/resta...

                              thats the one i was talking about

                              1. re: Lau
                                K K Jul 24, 2011 08:12 AM

                                Yes that's the one Charles is referring to that is 2.75, that's the only one with Mak's in the name that is on Wing Kut street. With a whole goose, if you happen to need to catch a long flight a few hours later, might be fun to take the leftovers to finish off on the plane.

                          2. re: Charles Yu
                            k
                            Kiedis Jul 26, 2011 09:07 PM

                            Funny that a lot of people equate Mak's with expensive. I'm not saying that they are not, its just that Ho Hung Kee charges $31 for their Wonton noodles (3 wontons) and there's nary a mention. I wonder why that is. Oh I just ate at Ho Hung Kee yesterday, so i'm sure the price is right.

                            1. re: Kiedis
                              Charles Yu Jul 27, 2011 06:07 AM

                              I had won-ton noodles at Ho Hung Kee a couple of times in the past and wasn't that impressed. So never ordered it again and hence unaware of its current , 'post-Michelin star' $31 price tag! During my last visit,, I just had their 'Gon Chau Ngau Ho' (Fried beef with rice noodles). Greasy and not that great either! If they carry on to be this complacent, I'm not surprise if they'll lose the star!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                l
                                Lau Jul 27, 2011 06:43 AM

                                i didnt realize that ho hung kee was so heralded or that it had a michelin star. ive been there a couple of times, i thought the wontons were excellent and the noodles were good too, but i didnt think the broth was anything transcendent. however they did have really good beef chow fun.

                                http://www.lauhound.com/2010/10/ho-hu...

                              2. re: Kiedis
                                skylineR33 Jul 27, 2011 06:29 AM

                                Do you know Ho Hung Kee is a 'one' michelin star restaurant ? It is normal for restaurant to increase their price after getting that status, that's why no one even mentioned its price increase here.

                                1. re: skylineR33
                                  K K Jul 27, 2011 07:07 AM

                                  Well Ho Hung Kee was heavily touted by local media personalities and celebs, along the likes of Craig Au Yeung (former RTHK DJ) and of course the loved/hated Chua Lam. This was in 2006/2007, even though HHK has been around 50 years or more.

                                  Add additional coverage and recommended not just by Michelin but HK tourist board for food travel and promotion, as well as thousands of food and travel guides and books published across Asia, including local food writers who have their work published elsewhere, and naturally the more press, the higher visited by foreigners (including Chinese living abroad), and the bigger the disappointment. HK business people are fame and profit oriented by heart, and will take advantage of any press and marketing opportunity. I'd say the idea of putting the image of HK as a food destination exploded 10 years ago via local food TV shows and then internationally (e.g. Anthony Bourdain)....remember when HK was labeled and marketed as a shopping heaven in the 80s (even Sam Hui sang a line in a song from 1984 describing it so)? Haha...times have changed.

                                  1. re: K K
                                    skylineR33 Jul 27, 2011 07:23 AM

                                    Yeah, you can almost see Ho Hung Kee everywhere. It is featured in Chua Lam, So See Wong's food TV show...... The food inflation in HK is so serious that you can almost see price increase everywhere. And now HK is trying to label as a "Wine Capital", when I looked at it's June inflation figures, it's wine price has increased 20% compared to last year !

                                    1. re: skylineR33
                                      l
                                      Lau Jul 27, 2011 07:39 AM

                                      yah i hear u on the over-hyping although if i owned the place id do the same thing

                                      re: food inflation, obviously no one wants to pay more, but end of day its ~$4 USD ($31 HKD) haha, i think i can live with paying those prices

                                      1. re: Lau
                                        skylineR33 Jul 27, 2011 07:52 AM

                                        Oh yes, it is ok for you and me. But the hr minimum wage in HK is $28 HKD ! Usually for an adult, take me as an example, I need to eat at least 2 bowl of Wonton noodle at Ho Hung + some veggie for a normal meal.

                                        I remember I see a episode in So See Wong's food TV show that they are doing an experiment, they ask a 20s year old male to dine at Ho Hung and the guy had eventually 4 bowls before he does not feel hungry anymore ! The guy said with that amount of money, it can go somewhere else to have a full meal of steak !

                                        1. re: skylineR33
                                          k
                                          Kiedis Jul 27, 2011 08:03 AM

                                          I suppose its all relative. In Singapore (where I'm born and bred), comfort food like chicken rice, singapore-style wonton noodles etc. seldom cost more than SGD3 (HKD 18), so I'd say the inflation in food costs is rather worrisome.

                                          1. re: Kiedis
                                            K K Jul 27, 2011 08:57 AM

                                            So See Wong may be knowledgeable about traditional food and what not (I admit there is a good learning experience from some of her shows), but it is blatantly obvious that when she and her TV crew visits certain restaurants, the establishments put on their A-game just for the exposure, but not for the rest of the general public for some parts. When the public tries them out and over runs a place, the quality tends to go down.

                                            Hmm wine....my relatives were telling me ridiculous prices for what otherwise would be considered cheap California wine (in California), with a HUGE markup in Hong Kong. And this was quite a number of years ago, can only imagine how bad it is now....just another regular drink for the nouveau riche. Then again money buys everything in HK. 20 years ago you couldn't easily find jamon iberico and good quality Italian espresso, but now times are changing.

                                            Street food in Singapore and Taiwan (hawker centers and night markets) has always been thankfully very affordable, cheap, and really good quality.
                                            But in Singapore real estate prices are astronimical nowadays thanks to a lot of foreign investors and uber rich mainland Chinese buying up property, making it out of reach for many locals.

                                            1. re: K K
                                              skylineR33 Jul 27, 2011 10:27 AM

                                              I actually think Chua Lam and So See Wong are very knowledge on food, but not those such as 肥仔 林澄光 the so-called "少年食神", haha.

                                              I think when HK cancel the import tax on wine in 2008, people did get some benefit from it, but then the high demand increase the price...

                                              1. re: skylineR33
                                                K K Jul 27, 2011 11:13 AM

                                                Chua and Suzy....look at their age, they have a century of experience between them! Suzy is obnoxious, but it is part of her trick of the trade and personality.

                                                Fatboy Michael was born into wealth, and has the gift of gab. Plus he gets some pretty hot chicks on that show (even though it was canceled after one season), and his recommendations are very pedestrian (and affordable) hence a wider acceptance and audience. His appeal is more towards the openrice and young foodie blogger types, certainly not fine upper echelon dining. Despite that, there is some entertainment and learning value from his show, although it sickens me to see him act so carefree and parade around his multi million dollar sports cars...but that's forgiven thanks to the hot Leng Mo's and at times guest celeb friends he has on the show.

                                                By the way, do any of you HK food loving CHers remember a place in Causeway Bay from 1980s or before called 華麗園 in Causeway Bay (蘭芳道3 號地下)? It had once a 50+ year history (sadly no longer around), and was very famous for 年糕. When I was a kid, my earliest memories were going there for won ton noodles with family and in my mind was quite good. Simpler times before Michelin, Suzy, Chua, TVB, iCable, HK food tourism, internet etc. Just try to self indulge in past memories...

                                                1. re: K K
                                                  k
                                                  Kiedis Jul 27, 2011 08:09 PM

                                                  華麗園 is still around but at this location now: 銅鑼灣富明街2-6號寶明大廈地下. Its actually just along Percival street in Causeway Bay.

                                                  1. re: Kiedis
                                                    K K Jul 27, 2011 10:24 PM

                                                    Ahh right...but isn't that location currently a boutique, but it only opens once a year as Wah Lai Yuen to sell 黃糖椰汁年糕 for the Chinese New Year? Basically the restaurant it once was is no longer.

                                                    1. re: K K
                                                      k
                                                      Kiedis Jul 27, 2011 10:27 PM

                                                      KK, yes I think you are right. Let me take a walk there later to find out. :)

                                                    2. re: Kiedis
                                                      maoliu Jan 3, 2012 08:02 PM

                                                      華麗園 is now open through January 25. It is located directly across from Yiu Fung. a small plain 年糕 costs HK$90. They also have taro cake and radish cake. Their booth in the CWB Sogo basement sells 年糕 only. Free tasting at both locations.

                                                      Managed to hand carry two back with me to cure my post vacation blues. It almost brought me tears as it was as good as I remembered.

                                                    3. re: K K
                                                      k
                                                      klyeoh Jul 27, 2011 10:35 PM

                                                      "Simpler times before Michelin, Suzy, Chua, TVB, iCable, HK food tourism, internet etc..."
                                                      ---------------------------------------------------
                                                      TOTALLY agree with you there, KK!

                2. scoopG Jul 12, 2011 01:46 PM

                  Why not try the source? Here's the salient thread:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/399024

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scoopG
                    l
                    Lau Jul 12, 2011 03:03 PM

                    yep these are pretty much all the chound guys over there that are helpful

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