Hong Kong: Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔記 (~) vs Mak’s Noodles 麥奀雲吞麵世家

15 Dec

Tsai Chai Kee and Mak’s Noodles are popular Wanton Mee shops in Hong Kong that interestingly, sit directly opposite each other in the Central district.

My first review is on Tsim Chai Kee.

I opted for the Wanton Mee with Dace Fishballs. The thin noodles were springy and crunchy to the bite, and the wantons big and stuffed with a few prawns. Though the fishballs were weirdly shaped, they actually tasted much better than they looked. In addition to dace, it also contains minced pork and tangerine peel which gives it a tinge of zest (it’s a bit of an acquired taste). However, I found the soup far too alkaline for my liking (alkaline water is used to make the noodles to give it that much sought after “Q” quality), so we were a little disappointed in that aspect.

My second review is on Mak’s Noodles.

I had the Wanton Mee, which was served in a small bowl the size of a soup bowl. This is definitely not a place for a proper meal because of the serving size, maybe that’s why it’s empty at dinner time. We were told by a friend that the locals actually eat wanton mee as a snack. If you’re wondering where the wantons were, they were actually hidden under the pile of noodles. I read from other food blogs that Mak’s serve the noodles on the top so that it doesn’t get soggy. Smart move. The noodles were good too, but I’m not a fan of the small one-bite wantons. Overall, I preferred Mak’s Noodles simply because of the fact that the soup, which is made using powdered dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones was delicious. And it wasn’t masked by the taste of alkaline water.

[Edit: I was informed by my reader that best wantons in Hong Kong are supposed to be small and one bite, and they also test the skill of the wanton maker with its diminutive size. But I guess it’s a matter of personal preference – I still prefer mine a bit larger and there are many other shops that cater to this.]

The waiters also recommended the Beef Brisket Noodles, claiming that they are actually famous for this. I must have missed the memo somewhere as the shop title says “wanton mee specialist”! Anyway we got a bowl to satisfy our curiosity. While the beef was tender and flavourful, the rich brown soup in this one was a bit too salty for my liking. I would go back to Kau Kee anytime for a more balanced soup.

So what’s my final verdict on this wanton mee taste off? If you’re looking for a proper meal and don’t like the authentic small wantons like me, go for Tsim Chai Kee. But I’ll go with Bourdain on this one, Mak’s Noodles is overall better because of its tasty soup but it’s size would only make for a good snack. I actually think you can find better/other good wanton mees elsewhere in Hong Kong. 正斗 which I wrote about is pretty good too, which you can thankfully find in HKIA. You can also read more about the Best Wanton Mee in Hong Kong by CNNGO here.

Price: $ (20-30 HKD per bowl)
Location: 77 (Mak’s) & 98 (Tsim Chai Kee) Wellington Street, Central

2 Responses to “Hong Kong: Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔記 (~) vs Mak’s Noodles 麥奀雲吞麵世家”

  1. Lola December 23, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    The best wantons are usually those that are petite in size. Huge wantons aren’t actually wantons ’cause they should never resemble the size of Shanghaiese of Taiwanese dumplings.

    • chowandthecity December 25, 2011 at 2:17 am #

      oh, i see :) thanks for the tip! by that logic, i guess mak’s small wantons are considered very good then!

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