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May 2, 2012 05:02 PM

Hong Kong - Best Beef Flat Noodle/Gan Chao Niu He?

Hi Hounds,

I've been in HK for 30 hours now and can't believe I didn't think of this earlier!! Can anyone recommend the best "gan chao niu he" (sorry I only know how to pronounce is in Mandarin)? It's the dish with sauteed beef and onions with wide flat rice noodles.

On another note, yesterday I did try Australia Dairy Company and Yee Shun Milk Company back to back. I much prefer the steamed ginger milk pudding at Yee Shun, so thank you to all who suggested it in another thread! I also tried Mak's Noodle, the one next to ADC which boasts pictures with Bourdain all over their restaurant. They do have an amazing broth and the smell completely envelopes you when you walk in, but the actual wonton was lacking in shrimpy goodness. I later heard from a friend that the wonton shop next door is actually better (and most likely also less pricey)...


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    1. re: Charles Yu

      Interesting question for you since you seem to have been around a lot. Do you find that different branches of the same restaurant can vary rather widely in quality? There's always a little variation to be expected, but for example, I found the IFC branch of Tasty to be better then the original one in Happy Valley, surprisingly.

      Take these two dishes (the wet version of the dish being asked).

      One is from Tasty IFC (the nicer looking one). The other is from Happy Valley. There was much more wok hay and overall finesse in the IFC branch's take.

    2. the best gan chow niu ho imo is at tai ping koon yau ma tei branch. it's at the back of the novotel in yau ma tei.

      although their suiss sauce niu ho is more famous, their gan chow niu ho is also very good.

      1. Ho Hung Kee in Causeway Bay comes highly recommended by tour guide books and visitors from abroad for their dried fried beef chow fun, although Tasty might execute this dish at a higher level. Tai Ping Koon's rendition is a bit of a fusion, as they use the sweet marinade used for their signature "Swiss chicken wings" for stir frying beef chow fun which gives it a different edge.

        For something even more pedestrian, try Ball Kee dai pai dong in Central 波記(大排檔). They are open only during lunch hours, and you get value along with best wok hay (and definition of what wok hay really means) and street food atmosphere (vs paying even more for a restaurant's real estate and service).

        9 Replies
        1. re: K K

          Compared to Tasty's 'greaseless' execution, Ho Hung Kee's version lacked wok-hay and much more greasy!!
          As KK eluded to, Tai Ping Koon's version is good but IMO is a mutation of the 'traditional' approach. Personally, I prefer the aroma and taste of the yellowing chives used in the Tasty's version ( see photo ) than the sweet sensation of the ' Swiss Chicken wings sauce' used in TPK.
          Ho Hung Kee was not impressive a couple of years ago and it kept on going downhill and getting more expensive!. May be that's why Michelin removed the star!! There are much better places for Won-Ton noodles, Gone Chau Ngau Ho and Congees IMO.

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Ooh, I love when it's "greaseless" and fusion sounds .. interesting. I like to cook fusion, but I prefer restaurants to be traditional. Charles, have you tried Ball Kee? I'd like to get your thoughts on that. Sounds like it's a battle between Tasty and Ball Kee! I never go by tour book recs, which are mostly written by non-locals anyway >.<

            1. re: kishtar

              Ball Kee is a bit more stripped down, no yellow chives from the openrice pictures. Sounds like Tasty is a good way to go, but if you can try Ball Kee for us and report back/compare, that would be great. Or walk around Central's dai pai dongs and see what's there.

              Does Tsui Wah do this dish good at all Charles?

              Also, family was saying that 富來粥麵小廚 (Fu Loy) in Happy Valley makes the best sweet sour pork in town (surprised the vote wasn't Luk Yu or Tak Lung). If that dish is as good as they claim it to be, then maybe the dried fried beef chow fun is ok there too.

              1. re: K K

                Sorry folks! Haven't been to Ball Kee, so cannot contribute

                Tsui Wah was so-so. Beef has too much bi-carbonate marinade. Cannot recall whether they have spring onion alone or yellowing chives. Tasty uses veal, so more tender, less soda and better caramelization from the wok searing.

                Haven't been to Fu Loy. However, favourite Sweet and Sour pork was Fook Lam Moon before encountering 'Xin Dan Ji''s version! Very nice!
                However, any place that knows the secret of making great S&S pork is to use 'Haw flakes' can mostly do a more than decent job!

                1. re: K K

                  will do!! I have 1 week left in hk...plenty of time to hit up both =) Would anyone be interested in joining me? I want to have them back to back

                  1. re: K K

                    I'll keep that in mind for next time.

                    The best Go Lo Yuk I've had, granted it's not a public restaurant, is at the Country Club. I've had it twice, and it's been an ace both times, alongside a good number of other old school dishes like the Beef in Oyster Sauce.

                2. re: Charles Yu

                  Just came back from a 2 week trip to HK. Ate at Ho Hung Kee due to a family member's recommendation and found the noodles to also lack wok-hay. Overall execution of much of what we tried was just not as good as Tasty.

                  Ironically, we were told at the door that Ho Hung Kee was acquired by Tasty - could that explain the downhill trend?

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Just back from HK and agree. Liked the Dry Fried Beef Hor Fun at Tasty IFC (but not the long wait) - had gone to Ho Hung Kee a few nights before and they had run out of hor fun, so had the Beef Brisket noodles instead - the standard has slid from the last time I recall.

                  2. re: K K

                    I used to do Ball Kee once in a while. Absolutely the most run down dai pai dong in Central. Food is good for what it costs, though. Also very impressive to see them fry-up your order in 30 seconds to 1 minute. Yes, I timed them. Huge "after-burners" with 2 guys in wife-beaters in the summer, facing gigantic fans so they don't die from heat stroke.

                    Here's a video I uploaded to YouTube…

                  3. lol it's a misunderstanding that many first timers have. so for everyone's future reference, Tai Ping Koon does have the suiss sauce niu he BUT they do have the traditional Gan Chow Niu He as well, 2 different items on the menu, and it's one of the best gan chow niu he in hk imo. The seasoning, the skills in frying the niu he, even the chilli sauce provided with are just better than most other places. but it is much more expensive than the normal cha chen tang affair though.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: japanesefoodlover

                      Tai Ping Koon has never been cheap historically and even more so that now they appeal to international visitors (including Japanese and Taiwanese tourists). In a strange parallel, TPK can be considered the HK version of yoshoku (aka Guangzhou style western food), but more upscale (at that time) and has somewhat stayed stuck in time. Many people confuse TPK's approach with typical HK style cha chaan tengs as HK style western.

                      1. re: K K

                        In fact IMO, TPK's food is way way over-priced. Just take a look at how much they charge for the 'smoked pomfret or their stuffed crab shell!! Talk about an arm and a leg!!. Even their roasted pigeon is way more than the Michelin 1* Fung Lam!! Years ago, I used to love their food ( especially the aroma ) but recently, I find all the 'traditional, good old days taste' has slowly disappeared with time! Sigh!!

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          yes i agree. they are expensive. but i still love their food. i must admit that i'm a big fan, we even buy our takeouts from there.

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Yeah I never liked the smoked pomfret, or the roasted pork leg (too dry), or the soy sauce onion pork chop even 10 years ago...but I was a bit of a sucker for the souffle, and ox tongue macaroni as a child.

                            There are cheaper "soy sauce fusion" restaurants that are a bit more downscale, like Boston in Wanchai (sizzling platter steaks), or Goldfinch (where 2046 movie was filmed) where they are known for signature borscht soup and a few other similar things. Those old places like Ruby restaurant, or the long gone "Yung Kee" (no relation to roast goose) around Sheung Wan/Central borderline that had excellent peanut nougat candy, that made spectacular cream of X or borscht soup (with a tasty dinner roll with butter) are but distant memories now.

                            TPK exists in a category all by itself... a place that doesn't care or need to innovate, and nostalgic fans and international visitors keep the place alive. Where else can you find old retirees wearing burgundy tuxedos serving you, and waiting for you to take out payment in front of you after putting the check down?

                            1. re: K K

                              Yes! What I really miss is the 'Russian Borscht' of the old Cherikoff, Chanticler , Rickies, or ABCs. Their version all have those unique ' commercial aroma and flavour' that neither domestic or current school of newer restaurants can replicate! Sigh!!
                              Even the way they do those sauteed/fried Garoupa cutlet all have that 'commercial/professional' smell and taste!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                yeah, I miss good old fashioned borscht as well! I love both the Russian and Slavic versions. My dad's family grew up on Russian style and our chef was able to recreate it, but I never got her recipe before she passed away! If anyone has a good one, I'd love to get a copy =)

                      2. on a completely unrelated note, thanks again to everyone who educated me about braised pomelo skin! I had never heard of it until last week on CH and I ate it last night...WOW DELICIOUS!! I really want to learn how to make it now ;)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: kishtar

                          Where did you have that dish? Some of the better ones are by Fu Sing and Tasty ( attached photo )

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            gosh, I'm not sure bc I was talking to my aunt the whole time (met her for the first time) that I forgot to grab a business card!! I know it was in IFC somewhere...according to the directory it looks like either Cuisine Cuisine or Lei Garden. However, based on the plating pics from the directory I would guess Lei Garden.