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Lastly!! A compilation of some of Hong Kong's BEST ( and worse? ) Won-Ton Noodles!!

The following are most of the famous and popular ones.
From left to right:-

- Mak Siu Kee, Tin Hau
- Bamboo Room, Causeway Bay
- Wing Wah, Wan Chai
- 'Jor Lun Yau Lay', Hung Hum
- Mak's, Wellington Street, Central
- Mak An Kee, Wing Kut Street, Central
- Chee Kee, Mong Kok
- Mak Man Kee, Jordan
- Tasty, Kowloon Bay
- Mak Siu Kee, Happy Valley

My favorite, Bamboo Room. My least favorite, Wing Wah ( Yuk!!! ) and Mak Man Kee.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. Thanks for this compilation Charles! I'd take a bowl of Wing Wah over the "best" won ton noodles in California any day.

    Can you let us know if you purposely repositioned a wonton on the surface of the bowls just for a picture of the two together (and if so which bowls were they)? Which bowls/restaurants served the noodles with the won tons beneath them originally? And it looks like only one or two of the wonton bowls had the wontons where the excess slack skin made it look like goldfish tails?

    I wonder how Yung Kee's small wonton noodle bowls are faring these days in comparison...better than Wing Wah's? :-)

    5 Replies
    1. re: K K

      Every outfit above served the noodles the 'traditional' way! That is, all won ton below, covered by noodles on top.
      I need to extract one morsel from the bottom to highlight and photo it.
      I would like feed back on Yung Kee's famous ' Fung Shing Shui Gau ' as well!! Freshly made to order, together with a great broth, they used to be so good. I sometimes think those morsels and their great 'Yang Chow Fried Rice' sometimes overshadows their roasted goose!!
      Pity their family feud and the death of their leading figure owner caused people to shy away from the uncertainty?!!

      1. re: Charles Yu

        Some say the most traditional way is that the spoon goes in the bowl first, then wontons, and some of the won tons should be sitting on the spoon, then broth and finally noodles on top (so they don't get too soggy). I guess that formula goes out the door if it's golf ball sized won tons. But looks like quite a few places these days, don't even bother with this detail with the spoon any longer.

        I passed by Yung Kee a number of times during my previous trip to HK, only to take pictures of the fatty chickens and roasties by the window. Have not seen such humongous fatty glistening glowing soy sauce and empress chickens. At least taking pictures is risk free. Did not want to risk disappointment. At least the roast goose at Ser Wong Fun was pretty decent (although boney, but good flavor).

        1. re: K K

          Yat Lok is just a few steps away on Stanley!

          1. re: K K

            Off-topic here, KK, but spurred by your talking about "pictures of the fatty chickens and roasties by the display window" - I was amazed to see these rows of poached whole chickens at the window of Bijin Nabe, a specialty Japanese chicken ramen spot in Plaza Singapura, Singapore (see photo).

            Their ramen broth is reputed to have a collagenic stickiness to it and bursting with flavors. At least, that's what one of my friends (Japanese residing in Singapore) told me. I'd not tried it myself yet.

             
             
            1. re: klyeoh

              That is some good stuff! Chicken stock shoyu ramen sounds good about now.

      2. Thanks, Charles - so, *Bamboo Room* it is on my next trip to HK!

        1. wow did you really eat every one of these this trip?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Lau

            Yes! And more!! ( Penny Hot Sauce Shredded Pork, Braised Beef Brisket and Tendons...etc ).
            Also, ate at two more, one in Sha Tin and one in Central but forgot to take photos.

          2. The photos looked like an Andy Warhol collage, but with HK-style wonton noodles instead of Campbell soup cans :D

            From the amount you consume, Charles, you are either a 6 feet 5 inch testosterone-driven football player, or a 300 lb eating machine :D

            I'm more into Malaysian-style wonton noodles, the dry or "kon low" variety where the noodles are dressed in dark soya sauce, sesame oil, pork lard, onion oil and topped with char-siew and spring onions. Malaysian wontons are mainly minced pork and prawns. The soup version of Malaysian wonton noodles is also available,but not as popular.

            11 Replies
            1. re: penang_rojak

              haha andy warhol of wonton noodle soup...i like that

              the malaysian-chinese version is more of a flavor bomb (like most stuff in malaysia) vs the HK / cantonese style wonton noodles, i imagine the HK / cantonese style might be considered somewhat bland by some chinese-malaysians although i really like the complexity of it that i dont think exists in the malaysian version although the malaysian version is very tasty albeit almost a totally different dish

              1. re: Lau

                Agreed, Lau - HKers' palates appreciate subtlety, and the finesse in their cooking often had other cultures mistaking it for blandness.

                As for me, I appreciate HK-style, Singapore-style, KL-style and Penang-style wanton noodles, each for their own unique tastes and characteristics. The only commonalities of these different versions, besides the ubiquitous thin egg-wheat noodles and the poached wanton dumplings, is that the purveyors are all Cantonese.

                Early wanton noodle pioneers in Singapore, Johore (Southern Malaysia), Kuala Lumpur and Penang came straight off the slowboat from Canton in the 19th- and early-20th century. In their new homes in Malaya/Singapore, they mingled with the majority Hokkiens (Fujianese), and fellow Guangdong migrants like the Hakkas and Chiuchows. Their wanton noodles began to evolve to take on the different taste preferences of the local Chinese diaspora.

                Post-World War II, two competing wanton noodles sellers in Johore started using canned Singapore-made chilli sauce to dress their noodles due to the shortage of soysauce caused by the war. Their chilli-dressed wanton noodles were a hit, and spread back to Singapore - hence the spicy chilli-paste-spiked wanton noodles we have in Singapore today:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/744161

                KL-style wanton noodles is another genre altogether - its dressing is an addictive blend of oyster sauce, dark soysauce, light soysauce, pork lard, a smidgen of sesame oil and sugar. No chilli paste here (unlike the Singapore version) - in fact, it's heresy to even suggest that to a KL-lite! I first got acquainted to KL-style wanton noodles during a visit to KL back in the early-80s, and have been hooked on it ever since! It's my personal favorite type of wanton noodles:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/813210

                Penang-style wanton noodles is a variation on the KL-style wanton noodles, but has a trademark "al dente" springiness to its texture, akin to HK-style wanton noodles (KL and Singapore's wanton noodles have a smoother, softer texture). Some wanton noodle vendors in Penang also liked to serve crispy deep-fried wantons atop the "kon-lou" noodles, plus poached wanton dumplings in a side-bowl of consomme soup. I find Penang-style wanton noodles to be slightly "one-dimensional" in taste, due to its predominant dark soy/light soy dressing.

                Well, the Cantonese diaspora stretched its wings all over South-East Asia, here are a couple of places where I was surprised to find the ubiquitous wanton noodles:

                1. Thai-style wanton noodles outside Bangkok, which were absolutely delicious - the "moo daeng" (Thai for "red meat") a close approximation of "char-siu":
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/832524

                Most Thai-Chinese are of Chiuchow descent (the half-Chiuchow King Taksin, before the advent of the Chakri dynasty, encouraged large-scale immigration of the Chiuchow people into Siam towards the end of the 18th-century), with a strong Hokkien presence. The migrants from Guangdong are mainly Hakkas, so the wanton noodles in Thailand are largely Hakka-influenced.

                2. Indonesian-style wanton noodles in Malang (East Java) close to Surabaya:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/816274

                Most Indonesian-Chinese are of Hokkien descent, but with significant Hakka and Chiuchow presence. Again, the wanton noodles here probably has Hakka influences.

                1. re: klyeoh

                  yah agreed on liking all of the different styles. i think for me when i'm totally starving stuff from singapore / malaysia is extremely satisfying maybe more so than any other food in the world (taiwan would be ranked pretty high too), but when i'm sitting down and having a little more time to eat the food and really pick through the flavors etc i really love HK style food (japan would be the other place ranked highly in that category as well).

                  i also always love seeing the dispora of southern chinese food around the world (cantonese, hokkien, teochew specifically). its very interesting how it developed everywhere and sometimes in very different way wonton noodles being a good example. one day i'd like to go from where my dad is from in guangdong to see what the food is like there, ive always wondered how different it might be from the cantonese food everywhere else.

                  interesting tidbit on Johor btw, i didn't know that

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    This is the history and origin of 'CANTONESE WON-TON' which all of my above were based on.

                     
                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      ah cool, its really small and i probably couldn't read the whole thing without a lot of help anyhow (my chinese reading skills outside of food are probably like a 1st or 2nd grade level or something like that). what's the high level gist of it?

                      1. re: Lau

                        It's from the cover sheet that goes over the trays at the Tasty food court Chek Lap Kok :-)

                        The same verbage from the sheet is a combination of

                        http://www.tasty.com.hk/story.html

                        and

                        http://www.tasty.com.hk/aboutus.html

                        1. re: K K

                          Thanks, KK - I *thought* that looked familiar, then realised I'd indeed read that in Tasty's outlet in IFC Mall when I was there last year.

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            Mak Siu Kee in Tin Hau and Happy Valley, Mak's Wellington and Mak An Kee in Central all have table mats with won-ton noodle history printed on it!!

                          2. re: K K

                            ahh thanks, ill read it this weekend...it'll take me a long time to get through it haha

                            1. re: Lau

                              Oh, you can use GoogleTranslate, and get it over with in 10 minutes ;-)

                  2. re: penang_rojak

                    The Warhol analogy is even greater considering that HK art museum had an Andy Warhol exhibition at the same time as Charles visit.

                    Having seen both, I prefer Charles "art" ;)

                  3. Oh my goodness, Charles. Did you even have any space for anything else after this noodle orgy?

                    By the way, I think you should get together with this young lady who wrote about best wonton noodles in Hong Kong for CNNGo:

                    http://travel.cnn.com/hong-kong/eat/b...

                    21 Replies
                    1. re: M_Gomez

                      4th time lucky??
                      I tried replying to your posting 3 times in a row but somehow my write-ups did not post?
                      Anyways! Greetings M_Gomez! Missed you during our Hong Kong Chowmeets. We all had a great time. Both fourseasons and klyeoh showed up!! May be you can make an effort to join us next time?!
                      Thank you for the CNN article! Interesting!!
                      Unfortunately, IMHO, not only was the information outdated, the article focused too much on establishments with a historic background rather than the quality and taste of the products! There were some funny reasons behind the author's choice in representing 'Hong Kong's BEST'! eg., Wing Wah and Mak Man Kee ( my least favorite) both happened to make the list?! Interesting?
                      BTW, cost has also gone up a lot!! At least an average of HK$4 per bowl! In fact, in CWB's Ho Hung Kee's case, they've raised their price by $5 in 2 years!! Wow!! Rent increase?!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Its true rents are rising, but so are wages, the minimum wage has risen and many pay rates are moving at 5% a year so its inevitable prices need to rise even for food that is only ~ $30 a serve.

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          What to do, Charles, unlike you freewheeling bachelors, I have to help my daughter here keep an eye on her 5-month-old baby and 3-year-old toddler. There's only that much we can rely on a domestic helper.
                          Maybe next year, Charles. You are doing it in HK again?

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Charles, would you like to lend your expert opinion in the current on-going discussion about wonton noodles on the SF Bay Area Board? Their dish of the month is, what else but ... WONTON NOODLES! :-D

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896524

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              not to turn this into an economics board, but HK has pretty high inflation, so i actually find it amazing how cheap food is in HK (although HK has horrible income disparity to be fair)
                              http://www.tradingeconomics.com/hong-...

                              Hong Kong's dollar is pegged to the US dollar and they have to use US interest rates (literally), which are probably too low since the US basically has zero interest rates trying to kick start the US economy post-financial crisis, which causes big inflation in HK even though HK probably had no reason to have such low interest rates (hence HK's real estate prices, wage inflation, rent infation etc etc

                              )

                              here's an article what's happening to small businesses. It's actually interesting b/c last summer when i was in HK I ate in Tai Hang at Fisherman's Cuisine Hamayaki Taisho and was shocked at how much that area has changed and how trendy it's becoming
                              http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04...

                              1. re: Lau

                                There are also the infrastructure changes like the new escalators on Centre Street in Sai Ying Pun which will start extend Soho west making access up the steep hills easier. We are already seeing new restaurants and galleries spread out in this direction.

                                I think economic change is one driver but I also see a post colonial change since 1997 with local business changing and developing with lots of innovative local ventures, shops and restaurants i.e. the 3rd wave coffee shops are owned and run local nor expats. The new buzzy bakeries like Po's are local etc etc. So yes the old Won Ton Noodle places are changing but it's a dynamic city and its good to see the young locals driving change in food not simply big international brands (like it is so often in retail)

                                1. re: PhilD

                                  yah that is nice about HK, i don't feel like HK is losing any of its edge in food at all really whereas in singapore i question how long the hawker culture will really survive at least in a quality way

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Lau - sadly, quality hawker culture in Singapore has *not* survived at all since the early-80s after the Singapore Government cleaned our streets and moved all the old hawkers into designated food centres. Many of the old masters retired, bringing their tried-and-tested recipes and much-honed skills into oblivion.

                                    Then, came the centralized food manufacturing plants in Jurong and Pandan Loop, with their mass-produced "nasi padang", "beef noodles and beef balls", "economy rice" dishes which were cooked en masse in factories, not kitchens, then distributed all over Singapore - to be warmed up and served by franchise stall-owners.

                                    Out went charcoal cookers, in came gas burners.
                                    Out went pork lard, in came "healthier" vegetable oil.
                                    Out went artisanal hawker food preparations, in came supermarket fishballs, meatballs, noodles, etc, etc.

                                    The younger generation of Singaporeans, born after 1980, had not tasted the *real* Singapore hawker food. They are less discerning, food is regarded as fuel for the stomach rather than something pleasurable. They have no appreciation for the cooking skills of the old hawker masters.

                                    Hawker food in Singapore just does *not* hold a candle to the type of traditional street food in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand or next-door Malaysia.

                                    Look at our top hawker centres: Maxwell Road, Tiong Bharu, Amoy Street, Old Airport Road, Adam Road, Serangoon Gardens - none of them really are standouts, or some place I'd proudly bring a first-time visitor to Singapore to. Contrast that with, for example, Ho Chi Minh City's touristy Ben Thanh market, where I had some of the most flavorsome, artisanal "bun rieu cua", "banh uot" and "hu tieu" I'd ever had and which still stayed on my memory after a few years!

                                    What you see in the media today about Singapore's "vibrant" hawker food culture is merely Tourism Board of Singapore's clever spiel.

                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      That's very interesting, it sounds like what is happening to Singapore is also in some ways happening to parts of Hong Kong...someone did post before that the Central dai pai dongs went through the same retrofitting (e.g. Towngas) so woodfire/straw like material burning woks are gone and the gas powered woks don't output those killer BTUs like they used to. Yet some food bloggers in HK think Singapore seems to be retaining its food culture even better (grass is greener on the other side i guess), and there's been massive interest by HK food TV documentaries going around Guangdong province (Shunde, Foshan, Pearl River Delta, Panyue) as well as various parts of Malaysia.

                                      Is Hainan Chicken Rice for example better in Singapore than in Hong Kong?

                                      1. re: K K

                                        It is indeed "the grass is greener on the other side", KK. What are food bloggers, but usually a bunch of younger people more interested in taking photos of the food in front of them, than actually tasting the food.

                                        But I think HK visitors to Singapore are usually impressed by the sheer *variety* they see in our foodcourts: Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Nyonya. Even the Chinese component can be subdivided further, and would include Chiuchow "koay teow", Hokkien "noodles", Cantonese roast meats, Hakka "yong tau fu", Hainanese chicken rice, etc. - as the Chinese diaspora in Singapore are more diverse than mainly-Cantonese HK.

                                        Plus, HK cuisine eschews the assertive chillies and curries which Chinese-Singaporeans have incorporated into our cuisine as *our own*. No Chiuchow-Singaporean would want their fried "koay teow" noodles *without* chilli paste stir-fried in, no Hokkien-Singaporean would think of having the ubiquitous fried Hokkien noodles without a dollop of ultra-spicy chilli paste on the side, and no Hainanese-Singaporean would be able to eat his/her Hainanese chicken rice without the minced chilli-garlic-vinegar dip. And to think that in the old homeland, fresh red chillies are alien to Southern Chinese cuisine.

                                        I prefer Singapore's Hainanese chicken rice much more than those I'd had in Hong Kong (or Malaysia, or in Rowland Heights/Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles) - the rice is moister and oilier in Singapore, with a heavier pandan scent. I hope to do Wenchang chicken on Hainan Island itself one day, although my annual pilgrimage to the old homeland at the end of this year may likely be back to my maternal ancestral village in Shantou (Swatow) - where the Chiuchow food is super-delicious, compared to what we get in HK or Singapore!

                                        I think HK's rising rents are driving out the traditional food purveyors. In Central, for example, the rents seemed to have spiralled out of control - when Abercrombie & Fitch took over Shanghai Tang's old spot on Pedder Street last last year, they reputedly paid HKD5 million a month for the rent. And when Zara later took over the old Lane Crawford premises on Queen's Road, they paid between HKD9-10 million for the monthly rent!

                                        1. re: klyeoh

                                          i love chicken rice in singapore and i think chicken rice is fine and will probably stay fine, it's never really changed for me from when i eat it today from when i lived in singapore (although you would consider me fairly young i think); i have heard along time ago the actual chicken was better but that was a function of having free range chickens grown in singapore which is no more. However, i think that's a function of how you make chicken rice, which is different than certain other hawker foods such as char kway teow and hokkien mee which you really need someone who knows how to fry it up, which i largely think is a function many many years of experience or stuff like ngor hiang where as you said you can cut corners by using centralized factories so you really just have to heat it up quickly kind of thing.

                                          i also think that the amt of money people expect to pay at hawker centers is what will really kill / already is killing the hawkers. People in singapore complain like no other about food prices (go read hungry gowhere) where they complain about how this uncle charge like $4 SGD for char kway teow or whatever (which i think is sort of silly given the prices of popular western food) b/c of that no young person is going to really want to slave away in some hot hawker center on their feet 10 hours a day when they can make multiples of that in an office job. So i unfortunately think it's probably somewhat of a doomed industry at least from the standpoint of great quality.

                                          People might complain, but i dont know i really don't think HK food culture / quality is dying in the least bit. You do bring up the point of the dai pai dongs, but the regulation that killed dai pai dongs has been in place for a very very long time and maybe im just too young, but i dont think dai pai dongs are really what i thought was the best food in HK anyhow. don't get me wrong i like DPDs alot and i actually went to a bunch them and wrote about them on my last trip bc they are dying, but i dont think there was ever a time where i thought about DBDs as the first thing related to HK food whereas i do think about that when i think about singapore or when i think about taiwan (although there is alot more to both food cultures than street food).

                                          also i kind of feel like HK is getting more chinese (post-british rule) whereas i feel the opposite in singapore (although singapore does have 3 main ethnicities as HK only has chinese), which matters from the standpoint that it seems to me that young singaporeans eat less of their indigenous food and more of non-singaporean food although i can't substantiate this, its just the feeling i get after going there alot more in recent years vs a long time ago.

                                          klyeoh - btw my friend is part hainanese told me they thought wenchang chicken was bland compared to what you get in singapore / malaysia although i'd like to try it as well

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            On Hainan island, Wenchang chicken connoisseurs will ask to be served the left side of a halved, poached chicken - their logic is that a chicken uses its *right* leg to scratch the ground for feed, hence the meat from the right leg will be tougher. Old wives' tale, but commonly followed in Hainan! :-D

                                            Hang on! Why are we discussing Hainanese chicken rice on Charles Yu's wonton noodle thread?! ;-)

                                            1. re: klyeoh

                                              May be you guys wanted to lure me into saying once again that the 'mushy' chicken used in S'pore's Chicken rice sucks!! Ha!! Free Range Chicken, way to go!!!!

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                Charles, I *still* remembered your disappointment with Maxwell Road Food Centre's famed Tian Tian chicken rice - more than 4 years ago now? ;-)
                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/599638

                                                Maybe we should have brought you to Five Star chicken rice which used free-range chicken.

                                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                                    haha sorry for hijacking the thread

                                      2. re: klyeoh

                                        wasn't it not too long ago that some singaporean minister was proudly unveiling a robot that could "fry" char kuay teow?

                                        what we sacrifice in the name of efficiency...

                                        edit: found the link - http://www.spring.gov.sg/NewsEvents/I...

                                        1. re: akated

                                          Singapore ministers tend to be quite robotic themselves anyway.

                                          Funny how a high-tech society like Japan can still treasure traditional cooking techniques and careful sourcing of ingredients.

                                          1. re: klyeoh

                                            haha...politician's will say anything for a vote

                                            i just imagine him cringing and saying "it tastes good"

                                            1. re: Lau

                                              Former Hong Kong Tourism Head Mr. B.J Tin once took a US foodie and its TV crew to Mak Man Kee for won-ton noodles and claimed it to be Hong Kong's best! Politician!!!

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                i always find it interesting that anyone cares where a politician eats...i.e. like the big hoop la about donald tsang / thaksin and ng ah sio

                                                like who is thinking of donald tsang must be this guy with great taste or something