Result of a Trio of Won-Ton Noodle Tasting in HK - The Good,The Bad and The Wunderbar!!
- Charles Yu Mar 8, 2013 03:30 AM
When I first posted the thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/399024
on this board years ago, the following establishments were not included:
- Bamboo Room - Not yet open
- Mak Siu Kee, Tin Hau - Too far from my Kowloon resident
- Wing Wah - Not in my radar screen since never a fan of bamboo noodles
Today, in order to complete more of my 'best of the best' won-ton noodle list, I travelled all the way across the harbour to give the above three captioned places a try.
First off, Mak Siu Kee in Tin Hau.
This is the flag ship store of the Happy Valley branch which I tried out two years ago. Owned by one of the descendent of the authentic Canton style won-ton noodle founder - Master Mak, this establishment claimed to follow the master's original recipe to the dot!
( By that, the noodle should be the 'Silver thread alkaline water fine noodle style'. Won-ton morsels should be all prawns with just a touch of pork to augment the taste and texture. Lastly, the broth must use toasted dried flounder (tiled fish) and shrimp eggs in its preparation. To finish off the product, noodle has to be tossed with lard and soup sprinkled with yellowing chives and more shrimp eggs
)Here, the noodles, unlike Mak Man Kee's overly thick strands, were super fine, al dante and chewy. Near Perfection! Won-ton morsels were all intact and of the correct sizing. Prawn filling was nicely seasoned with a hint of white pepper. Sweet and crunchy, these were another near perfect product. Unfortunately, the broth was a bit on the mild and bland side lacking the aroma of the Tiled fish. Sadly, aroma of lard was also missing. Still, it was way better than Mak Man Kee mediocre offering.
Second destination was Bamboo Room in Causeway Bay.
Wow!! What a find!! The bowl of noodle I ordered finally made me yelled out a 'silent' wow!! Arriving at the table with enticing aroma of lard and toasted Tiled fish, this bowl of IMHO, 'world's best comfort food' made my taking the special trip across the harbour worth while! Definitely amongst the top three on my favorite list. BTW, the addition of a minute quantity of mince dried Tile fish in the prawn filling really kicked the Won-Ton up a notch! A very nice touch!
Lastly, the iconic and often raved about 'Wing Wah' in Wan Chai.
Bound to bring the wrath of fellow chowhounders on me, still, I need to voice my disappointment and discontent on this ' probably one of the worse won-ton noodles I have eaten in HK!! Everything was unappealing, especially the pork dominant won-ton. The little quanitity of shrimp accompaniment was pathetically overcooked! Soup was one-dimensionally boring. Noodles were tough and difficult to chew and separate.
Leaving the bowl mostly untouched, I got up, payed my bill and left wondering what the wait staff were thinking when they saw the untouched remains?!
So, to answer some of your querries. To date, my top three, in no particular order, are Tasty's, Mak An Kee and Bamboo Room.
Thanks for the excellent report. I was also told to try Mak Siu Kee during my trip, but never found the time and didn't realize there was a location in Tin Hau (I used my time at Tin Hau for Sister Wah, maybe will try MSK next time).
About the traditional won ton noodle criteria...shouldn't the won tons be bite sized (not golf ball sized) and also have excess skin slack to resemble goldfish tail visually? Curious how much slack there is on Mak Siu Kee, Bamboo Room. Ho Hung Kee's won ton (flagship Causeway Bay location) had no excess slack skin on their won tons.
So sorry to hear about the Wing Wah noodles and thanks for taking one for the team. I only had beef brisket noodles and really enjoyed it, and the noodles looked more yellowy golden when I went. I guess they do other things well but not WTN.
About Tasty...the Hung Hom location is gone from that other WTN thread, so which Tasty does it the best? I actually did eat one bowl of WTN, and it was at Ho Hung Kee Causeway Bay flagship store (they opened up another location in Hysan place that's even more pricier, with a Tasty like menu). I would have wanted to try the dried fried beef chow fun but had no stomach space. Loved the broth which had lots of shrimp roe in it, but didn't really enjoy the wontons as much and thought the noodles were good but not stellar. One of the reasons why Chua Lam loves Ho Hung Kee so much is that he claims the chef owner uses lard in the beef chow fun, but not at the other Tasty locations...
They say Ho Hung Kee's dried fried beef chow fun is incomplete without adding the table side chili sauce, which is actually the highly regarded 余均益 Yu Kwen Yick! Tasty, Tim Ho Wan, Lau Sam Kee, are also a few other restaurants that stock this brand of chili sauce (which you can only buy at one location in Sai Ying Poon in HK)...the YKY fans will enjoy being able to add this chili sauce to pan fried daikon cake at Tim Ho Wan (dim sum!)
re: K K
I was never a fan of 'golf ball' size won-ton. Always thought its an insult to the original 'master' recipe. Some things are best left alone!. Imagine sushi in the size of a hot.dog?!!
Trying out a new place in Hung Hum and then re-confirm all my review results with a tasting at my reference place - Mak An Kee in Sheung Wan.
re: Charles Yu
Jeem/Tsim Chai Kee is responsible for popularizing golf ball sized won tons, in addition to changing the broth receipe from dried tilefish to buddha fruit, and upping the sizes (quantity over quality). But at least we know which style is better. Kind of like Itamae Sushi vs Ta-Ke, Yoshitake, Mori, Tomoe, or Sase...
Really curious if there is a difference in the won ton noodles at Ho Hung Kee vs the best of the Tasty's. Visually they more or less look the same from blog pictures.
Local sources also say that Mak Siu Kee is better at Happy Valley than Tin Hau. Happy eating!