It'd be fair to say that the district of Sham Shui Po (深水埗) isn't on the itinerary of most visitors to Hong Kong, be they on holiday or on business. And nor would it have been on mine but for Jason's blog post on the amazing bamboo log or jook sing noodles (竹昇麵) at Lau Sum Kee (劉森記麵家). Jook sing noodles are made by a chef riding a bamboo log – I know that sounds like a euphemism for something unwholesome, but this video explains all.
Like many hole in the wall joints in Hong Kong, the menu is written only in Chinese. Somehow I managed to pick out the 蝦子墨魚丸水餃撈麵 (har zi mak yu yuan shui jiao lo mein), or prawn roe noodles w/cuttlefish balls & shui jiao dumplings (HK$ 37) – at around the equivalent of £3; this is the most expensive dish at Lau Sum Kee.
As this is a lo-mein dish, the cuttlefish balls and dumplings are served in a separate bowl of soup. The cuttlefish balls were QQ springy and perfectly seasoned; if not own-made then they're from a very high quality source. The shui jiao dumplings were damn good too with a generous filling of prawn and wood-ear fungus (木耳).
However, both were eclipsed by the accompanying plate of springy jook sing noodles topped with a liberal sprinkling of dried prawn roe (the crack cocaine of seasonings – not that I know what crack is like). To eat these noodles, some of the soup is added to them whilst mixing in the prawn roe. Pure genius – I love everything about this dish.
Lau Sum Kee is a bugger to find, as there's no English signage and street numbers can be hard to find on Hong Kong shops. I walked past it twice before I realised that it was the place I was looking for. My excuse is that the Chinese name is written in the old-fashioned way (from right to left) rather than the modern way (from left to right).
pineapple bun (bolo bao 菠蘿包). And as I strolled around Sham Shui Po eating this soft sweet bun and its crunchy cookie-like topping, I marvelled at what a veritable foodies' paradise, this little corner of Kowloon is.
The streets are literally lined with hole-in-the-wall joints, each serving their own specialities, ranging from trad-Cantonese to other Chinese cuisines like Sichuan and Yunnan, as well as Thai and Vietnamese places. So it goes without saying that Sham Shui Po is well worth a visit – after all, it's only five MTR stops from Tsim Sha Tsui and seven from Central.
Lau Sum Kee Noodle 劉森記麵家
48 Kweilin Street, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon, Hong Kong
香港 九龍 深水埗 桂林街48號地下
Nearest MTR: Sham Shui Po 深水埗
So if Lau Sum Kee is perceived to be a bit out of the way, then Mak's Noodle 麥奀雲吞麵世家 and Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔記 are anything but, as both are located in Hong Kong's busy Central district. I pitched up first to Mak's to try their acclaimed wonton noodles (雲吞麵). The noodles were very elastic and served in a perfectly seasoned broth – I could understand why they are so famous. But what is it with the portion size? Four pretty tiny wontons consisting of a sole (smallish) prawn with not that many noodles for HK$30, granted that's only around £2.50 but you can get hell of a lot more for that kind of price in Hong Kong.
Given how small the portion was at Mak's, I popped across the road to Tsim Chai Kee for a bowl of two toppings noodles (HK$23). Compared to Mak's, this was a super-sized portion with two freshly made peppery fishballs (鮮新魚球) coupled with two wontons (雲吞) that had fatty pork as well as prawn. All told, both toppings were far superior to Mak's miniscule offerings. However, the noodles weren't quite as springy and the broth was a tad overseasoned for my liking.
So, if only you could combine the toppings from Tsim Chai Kee with the soup and noodles from Mak's then you might, just might, get a dish that's as good as Lau Sum Kee's jook sing noodles. But that's not going to happen so if you do find yourself in Hong Kong then pay a visit to Lau Sum Kee for some of the best noodles around.
Mak's Noodle 麥奀雲吞麵世家
77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
香港 中環 威靈頓街77號地下
Nearest MTR: Central 中環
Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔記
98 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
香港 中環 威靈頓街98號
Nearest MTR: Central 中環