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Mar 5, 2013 03:38 AM

Mak Man Kee Won-Ton Noodles - Disappointing food that warrants 'Downhill Alert '!!

After a gruelling 20 hours trip from Toronto to Hong Kong via Seoul, I woke up from my 'jet-lag recovery' sleep this morning, starving!
Wanting something fast, easily accessible, rather light and most of all, delicious, I headed out to Mak Man Kee for some of my favorite 'comfy' food - Won Ton Noodles.
Whilst there was a loooong line outside the Australian Dairy Company next door, I was surprised to be seated right away in this semi-packed hole-in-the-wall iconic eatery.
We ordered a couple of bowls of 'Shredded pork penny hot sauce noodle', a bowl of 'Shrimp Won-Ton' and a plate of 'Braised beef brisket and tendons'.

The sauce topping for the noodle was as good as before, however, the noodles were less refined and still have strands that are thicker than their major competitors. Acceptable, especially when nothing like this exist in Toronto.
The Braised meat was still 'chopsticks tender' but somehow lacking the wow factor that once put it on my favorite list?
The major disappointment was no doubt the Won-Ton morsels!! Used to be my favorite amongst all the 'Mak's eateries', today's offering was plain BAD!!!! Overcooked to the degree that the wrappings were all falling apart, the seasoning for the fillings were subdued and lacking. This unfortunately also carried over to the all important broth!! Lacking in flavor, it was just plain 'Bland'!! How sad!!

All in all, a most disappointing experience! My first meal on the first day of my HK visit!! Hope this is not a sign of things to come??!

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  1. That's bad news, indeed.

    Can we attribute this to perhaps overly-heightened expectations on your part, Charles, or whether Mak Man Kee suffers the problem of inconsistency?

    1. Sorry to read this, knowing how much you loved Mak Man Kee in the past. Maybe your taste-buds are not yet "there" after the long flight and jet-lag?

      1. My dear Charles:- exactly how many times have you been bowled over by Mak Man Kee's noodles and wantans? Could their previous stupendous effort been a flash in the pan? I think you owe them to go back for a second tasting.

        And if they disappoint you again, then too bad. You'll need to find a worthy successor to top your list. Happy eating, Charles, and so sorry to have to miss your HK meet.

        1. So sorry to hear!

          Try making it up...head to Wing Wah in Wanchai. While I didn't have the won tons there, the beef brisket noodles were fantastic (down to the broth), and the pickled vinegared daikon (self help) are a must. Maybe you have better luck going to Mak An Kee or Mak Siu Kee.

          Even I wasn't enamored with Australian Dairy Company, although steamed milk custards were decent.

          Somehow I think many places have a hard time maintaining consistency specifically the cheap eats category of places. Rising rents everywhere, and nobody puts their heart in doing things right for low profit margins. Less disappointment eating around Sham Shui Po (even more divey places, but not for won ton noodles).

          "'Shredded pork penny hot sauce noodle'" or Ja Jeung Meen....for some reason Fatso Michael "Young Eating God" highly touts the version at Luk Yu Teahouse...

          12 Replies
            1. re: f1i2s3c4h5e6r7

              I'm not saying there is good won ton noodle in SSP, just saying that area is a hotbed for local eating, all within walking distance of another. There is a place that sells acceptable won ton noodles and shui gow in SSP, the name escapes me, and it used to be a dai pai dong before they moved indoors.

              - Kung Wor Tofu Beancurd products. Stuck in time 1950s era...fresh soymilk, tofu custard (get it hot and apply the yellow/orange sugar on it), pan fried stuffed tofu with pork, or the tofu pouch (fried) called dao pok, goes great with chili sauce

              - Hop Yik Tai - very famous for ju cheung fun (plain steamed cheung fun rollades), house made sauces. Add extra sesame seeds and it's great

              - Cheung Fat noodle (read the long won ton noodle thread). It's an old school dai pai dong that specializes in simple noodle dishes. Soy sauce lo mein or the version with lard. So Gei is another famous dai pai dong known for pork chop instant noodles and their coffees and teas are decent

              - Lau Sham Kee (bamboo pole noodles lo mein with prawn roe [not my bag but very popular], shui gow, pickled daikon cubes, "black" tripe with ginger sauce lo mein, goose intestines)

              - Wai Kee coffee and noodles - just down the street from Lau Sham Kee. Signature is pork liver instant noodles, coffee/iced coffee, plus their toast or French toast with a Malaysian inspired "jam" that is coconut milk, duck eggs, and...pandan? It's called Ga Yeung in Cantonese, wish I knew what the Malaysian name of it was.

              - Kwun Kee "store" - this place sells very old style Chinese steamed cakes/puddings. Has received tons of coverage from the local food media and big ego personality TV types.

              - There's a HK café or two around the area, one of them I think is called Sun Heung Yuen, very famous for minced (canned) beef sandwich.

              Some local guide books recommend Dai Ga Sik, which is a very similarly named to Dai Ga Lok (Café De Corral's Chinese name). It's also a chain, and they are famous I think for yau ja meen (lard noodles) and maybe other things...tho it was never on my radar.

              There's also Keung Kee dai pai dong in SSP but it's further walking from the MTR stations...baked fish intestines, lamb brisket claypot, jeh jeh chicken claypot, lots of interesting stuff there.

              1. re: K K

                RE: Wai Kee coconut jam. Its their rendition of kaya, which is the malay name.

            2. re: K K

              Granted it was 2007, Wing Wah was just OK when I went when it came to the wontons themselves. I had better luck with the various other "Maks"

              Australian Dairy is still my favorite place for the dun-nai, but I do agree that it's terribly overhyped like a lot of things are these days.

              1. re: Jon914

                In doing further research, it appears that Wing Wah is recommended by locals not for their wontons, but for the noodles and shui gow, and this is coming from some very experienced local eaters who have blogs and books published. I apologize for misleading others, but I didn't expect Wing Wah's wontons to be worse than Mak Man Kee, and I was curious what it was like. I definitely preferred Wing Wah's noodles over Ho Hung Kee (though I thought HHK's broth was great).

                Australian Dairy is definitely a very efficiently run restaurant. As far as HK style egg dishes, there are far better places...such as Shun Hing dai pai dong in Tai Hang that does an excellent smooth runny egg cha siu or shrimp rice plate, and very polite service by local standards.

                1. re: K K

                  HHK is a bit of an interesting story in that it was recently (in the past 2 years?) acquired by the Tasty group. I've heard good things about it pre-acquisition (online, from family) but when I went in last year, I found it to be similar but a slight notch below what we had at Tasty (Happy Valley) on the same trip. Even the 乾炒牛河 lacked wok hay and to my eyes, was worse than what I could get any day from Cooking Papa. Maybe it was a bad visit, but that's how it came out.

                  1. re: Jon914

                    That is interesting because Chua Lam's most recent book (his favorite 150 restaurants in HK, published in 2012), he still puts HHK's chow fun at his top slot, vs the other Tasty's. Then again he probably gets the best treatment wherever he goes. He wrote that the chef owner did the stir fry and he adds lard, but there's no lard addition at the other Tasty's. In any case one of the prime reasons to eat HHK or Tasty's chow fun is the fact the supplied chili sauce in house is Yu Kwen (Kwun) Yick. Btw HHK's beef chow fun is now at HK$79 a plate (sharp street)., and it is supposedly higher at the Hysan Place branch.

                  2. re: K K

                    I doubt it would make that muchj of a difference since the 'broth' tasted lousy and the fillings for the dumpling morsels sucked!!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      I shall try Bamboo Room tomorrow to see how accurate you are.

                      1. re: chinatown7

                        If you like the tasty, Mak An Kee, Mak's, Chee of Won-Ton noodle, then for sure you will like the Bamboo Room product. However, if you use the bamboo stick noodles of Wing Wah or Wong Ji Juk in Central as comparison, then you might not be comparing apples with apples!

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          wong chi kee you mean? I'll give it a go anyway!

                  3. re: Jon914

                    had Maks today and a frequent customer of Wing Wah. WW blows Mak's out of the water- main factor being the "al dente"-ness of the noodles.

                2. Wow, I'm really shocked at reading this after visiting recently and entering dizzying heights of wantan heaven!

                  Your experience seems to be the polar opposite of mine, where the wrappers were perfectly cooked, and the filling was packed with sweet prawn flavour, and the broth was perfectly balanced and flavourful.