Yogi, Foodie, Editor and Writer. I blog/edit at thescientificyogi.wordpress.com
Published April 23rd 2013
A wanton wonton noodle showdown in Hong Kong
Wonton noodles or wanton mee is a Hong Kong staple made with egg noodles flavoured by a clear consomme, 3 shrimp dumplings minimally, a sprinkling of spring onions for colour. Despite being deceptively easy, it is actually tremendously effortful. I'd explain why and how to make it next time.
I flew all the way to Hong Kong on a little food tour. That's right! How much more wanton can I get from this? I can't say for sure.
I went around asking Hong Kong based friends "Hey, where should I go for my wanton mee fix?". They only mentioned these 2 stalls - Mak's Noodles and Tsim Chai Kee.
Mak's Noodles Shopfront
The shops are poised for a face-off, by being located opposite each other along the popular Wellington Street of Central. I can almost picture a Romeo-Juliet Hong Kong triad-styled movie unfolding between the stall-owner's children.
Tsim Chai Kee's Shopfront
But I will focus now for sake of your stomach. Its no fun consuming half a bowl of noodles and walk across the street to eat the next half a bowl. Also, I was there on a shoe-string budget, so I am going to help you, dear reader, to elect the best bowl to spend your money and calories on.
So, my personal take on this show-down's winner is... Tsim Chai Kee!
Both Mak's Noodles and Tsim Chai Kee had their own plus and minus points.
I had found Mak's Noodles to be more pricey at HKD33 and of a smaller portion to Tsim Chai Kee's bowl at HKD22.
What about the taste? I broke down the components into:
1) Soup: Mak's consomme was clearly better than Tsim Chai Kee. Tsim's soup became cloudy due to the noodle's flour.
2) Noodles: Mak's noodles was thinner, despite Tsim's being al dente. I think this was a draw.
Mak's Noodles. Al dente!
3) Wonton: Tsim's noodles were not just larger, there was better bite and flavour. The prawns were juicier and more crunchy. The resulting taste was more well-rounded.
Tsim Chai Kee's Noodles
4) Chilli: Well, this is more a side issue. But being Singaporean, I love my food to be spicy. The chilli from Tsim's was chiu chow styled (Teochew), where chilli flakes and garlic are flavoured in oil. The resulting chilli is rather spicy and fragrant, adding an extra pow to the noodles. Mak's chilli felt like regular chilli sauce out of a bottle. It was disappointing.
Tsim Chai Kee's Chilli
The service of Tsim's was also better than Mak's. I went into Tsim's at around 2pm and the shop was flooded with customers quietly slurping away at their noodles. But the same cannot be said of Mak's. I went in at 12noon, which is lunch time, but there was no queue to be found. And this is the busy Central of Hong Kong? Something didn't feel quite right.
Tsim Chai Kee scores one for this round and zero for Mak's Noodles.
I tried Tsim's wonton noodles while in Hong Kong. While I love the flavour and bite of the balls of wonton, I found the ratio of noodles and wonton to be not balanced. There was just too much noodle for the three wontons. Maybe charge a bit more, and provide five wontons. That would be lovely!!