Starred “Street Food” in HK, Part 1: Wonton
Hot on the heels of watching/reviewing The Hundred-Foot Journey, Michelin stars seem somewhat meaningful.
Hong Kong is just the place to enjoy food and wonder what exactly makes it star-worthy good, especially as it has what seems, by now, a fair share of Michelin-starred “restaurants” which are more like mom-and-pop-enterprises with typical local fare.
So, out I went to see about some of the wonton and dim sum places that come recommended, one way or another.
1) Ho Hung Kee (何洪記)
It just so happened that I had decided to stay at Comfort Hostel HK in Causeway Bay this time, which is just around the corner from the Sogo Mall and Hysan Place. And in the latter, posh, place one finds the one-starred wonton restaurant Ho Hung Kee.
Time for the “House Speciality Wonton Noodle in Soup“, in the “small” size, four shrimp wonton with egg noodles in broth. The egg noodles, as would turn out to be the Hong Kong style, quite thin but chewy; the wonton tasty and on the small, less-filled side (which I’m not sure is a critique); the broth delicately aromatic.
Interestingly, from what I saw, there was no chilli sauce/oil to add on the table, but the (also usual) vinegar, or soy sauce, or (rather more strangely to me) Worcestershire sauce. So they said, anyways.
Very modern and clean ambiance
Price: HKD 38 plus HKD3 for the tea
Hysan Place 1204-1205 (12. Stock), 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
2) Tsim Chai Kee (沾仔记)
Again, shrimp wonton with egg noodle in broth, here at Tsim Chai Kee featuring as “King Prawn Wonton Noodle“.
Royally filled, plump wontons with almost too much shrimp, better to nibble apart than to just pop in; egg noodles as before; and a somewhat more strongly aromatic broth – especially as this place had chilli oil on the table. I promptly asked the people one setting over for theirs because the one in front of me did not have enough chilli in it anymore… Guess it’s a popular addition.
Very satisfying, cheap, but also with an ambiance like a fast food joint. Which, since that’s basically what such noodles are, seems rather more appropriate than the posh looks of Hu Hung Kee. Then again, it takes both kinds of places.
Talking of chilli sauce/oil: Unfortunately, Sam Tor which is nearby and had been highly recommended for its chilli sauce alone had been closed the day I wanted to go there, with no business hours or other notice on the shutters.
98 Wellington St, Central, Hong Kong
3) Mak’s Noodle (麥奀雲吞麵世家)
Anthony Bourdain-visited Mak’s Noodle, the place with its own Wikipedia page, right across the street from Tsim Chai Kee, also has its wonton egg noodle soup to offer. Similar again, and different again, with wontons I thought were intermediate in size between the two above.
Great size, that, big enough to take bites and small enough to just chow down, whatever the inclination. Egg noodles again thin but not too thin, with a good bite. The broth here may have been the most subtly flavorful, but the light aroma of sesame oil I noticed may also have come from somewhere else. It was good either way.
Thing is, Hong Kong does have some chilli (oil) to offer – I actually think I should, some day, see if I could perhaps pay a visit to the offices (better yet, factory?) of Lee Kum Kee, makers of various Chinese sauces, many of them of chilli – but goes for a rather delicate flavor. Not necessarily ideal for chilli-me.
Price: HKD30 (I find many critiques which say that the bowls here are extra-small. I don’t know, I found all the portions to be similarly, small, sized…)
77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong