Hong Kong - Mak's Noodles
The illustrious Mak's Noodles is almost synonymous with wanton noodles in HK. Although it started in HK in the late-60s, the Mak family's patriarch, Mak Woon-chi, was already well-known for his wanton noodles, which he sold in the streets in pre-Chinese civil war Guangzhou back in the 40s. A story in Frances Barnett's "Hong Kong on a Plate" (1997) recounted how Soong May-ling, the First Lady of the Republic of China and wife of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, loved Mak's noodles so much, she'd sit down on a small kerbside stool to have her wanton noodles, freshly-prepared by Mak Woon-chi, whilst her Kuomintang guards blocked both ends of the street to prevent any traffic coming in and disturb her meal. Apparently, she even invited Mak to cook at official functions - the old man will be chauffeur-driven in an official sedan, whilst his trusty little noodle cart will follow behind, ferried atop a Kuomintang army truck - the old man insisted he *must* cook using his noodle cart's brazier.
Anyhoo, the Mak family soon found themselves in HK in the aftermath of the Communist revolution which deposed Chiang Kai-shek. Well, China's loss was HK's gain, as the best-tasting wanton noodles in Guangdong landed in tiny Hong Kong.
Today, Mak's Noodles has expanded beyond its smallish, cramped "flagship store" on 77 Wellington St and its branches now dotted the city from Tsimshatsui to Causeway Bay.
Mak's noodles still come in their trademark "small bowl" - their noodles perfectly al dente, the soup stock delicate and subtle, the legendary wanton dumplings tiny and tasty, and to partake one is to "swallow a cloud", as its name suggested.
The beef noodle option was a good alternative, its soup stock gently fragrant with spices (Aniseed? Cassia bark?). You haven't experienced HK until you've tasted a bowl of Mak's noodles.
77 Wellington Street
Tel: +852 2854 3810
My first time in the Wellington St shop was also quite an experience, too - 20 years ago, the dining room was crowded and grimy. My colleague and I shared a tiny round table about 2 feet in diameter with 4 other strangers. A basin filled with dirty dishes and soapy water was 6-inches from my feet!
I'd actually asked to go there and turned down my HK colleague's original suggestion - he had wanted to bring me to Nadaman @ Island Shangri-la for a Japanese sushi lunch. I actually like the Mak's noodle experience much better - something I can tell others about.
Came back to Toronto yesterday.
Fourseason and I used the time and quota to eat oysters instead!
However, him and his family had been eating lots of 'Pho'! Thought they were even better than S'pore!! Apparently, according to the Boeing engineer who sat next to me on the flight back to Toronto, Seattle has the largest concentration of Pho restaurants in America!!