On our first day back in Hong Kong, we paid a visit to Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop, a long venerated establishment in Hong Kong, known for its wonton noodles (雲吞麵, wan tan min). Alvin wasn’t so fond of this place (“overpriced” as he put it) but decided that I, as a first timer to HK, I needed to pay a visit. And so we did.
Fun fact: Always wonder about the greeting (歡迎光臨, huanying guanglin) you hear when you step foot in a Taiwanese shop? It’s actually a Chinese rendering of the traditional Japanese welcome greeting, irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ ).
Footnote: For a more extensive treatment on Japanese words in (TW) Mandarin, check out this academic paper: “Some Returned Loans: Japanese Loanwords in Taiwan Mandarin.”
Mak Man Kee is right next to Australian Dairy Company, another well-known HK cafe (茶餐廳, cha chaan teng) serving “Western” food. Parkes Street is lined with other food places. I spotted a few Japanese sushi bars and even a Vietnamese pho joint on my way out.
Anyway, the Mak Man Kee name is so venerated that it has been borrowed by wonton noodle shops throughout HK (10 according to Open Rice [link]). The second most famous of the Maks is Mak An Kee Noodle, located in Central.
Service is very hasty, almost abrupt. We were seated within moments, immediately asked what we wanted and served within the blink of an eye. Let’s just say Hong Kong servers possess a talent at keeping tabs on their diners, ensuring that they maximize the turnover rate and know precisely when to begin hovering so they can free up seats. All in a day’s work, right?
All the servers wear white coats, looking a lot like chemists. Quite an interesting uniform. Another observation of note: Hong Kongers love their puffy winter jackets. I swear it’s like a national fashion trend. The more audacious the color, the better!
Noodles are Mak Man Kee’s specialty, and the noodle shop is infamous for its much despised portion size (the soup was served in what looked like a rice bowl), but famous for its traditional recipes. Mak Man Kee uses thin alkaline or lye-water noodles called gaan seoi min (碱水麵), made of wheat flour and turned yellow from the addition of lye, which alkalinizes the noodles. They are quite chewy. In fact, anybody who’s studied basic chemistry knows that alkaline materials (like soap) tend to be quite slippery. Because of this, some people prefer to add some vinegar into the soup, to balance the pH.
We ordered shrimp wontons in noodle soup, basically 2 large pearly shrimp wontons and thin lye-water noodles served in a clear broth that the Cantonese call seong tong (上湯), which is consomme that is continuously replenished throughout the day. I loved the soup’s light umami flavor, but the portion size left much to be desired.
We also ordered ordered noodles mixed with shrimp roe, which comes with a side of broth and some oyster sauce (for $1 HKD more). A healthy portion of dry shrimp roe were sprinkled atop a bed of those alkaline noodles. Quite honestly not my favorite thing to eat–too slippery and plain. If I could do this again, I would have ordered their pork knuckle noodles (豬手麵), another specialty.
Mak Man Kee Noodle Soup 麥文記麵家