humble noodle shop has my fave dumplings

My girlfriend who is a Jenny-of-all-trades surprised me by bringing me to her little noodle shop one day. On top of co-owning this restaurant, she also is part owner of a kick-boxing studio and is a distributor for a cosmetics line.

She came to pick my son and I up in her chauffeured car and we were whisked off to a little unassuming spot across the street from the Island Pacific Hotel. It was already 75% full by the time we got there and were lucky enough to get a corner spot for our meal. This is your typical Hong Kong noodle shop with simple tables and stools to sit on, however, the one difference is that it is clean.

The menu is very simple. Choose your type of noodle: rice noodles, egg noodles or rice vermicelli, either in small (HK$14/US$1.80) medium (HK$19/US$2.45) or large (HK$24/US$3) and then add what you want into your noodles.

There is a choice of two items (HK$19/US$2.45) or three items (HK$24/US$3), so a small bowl of noodles with three items will only set you back less than US$5.

There are a lot of offal meats (not my thing apart from tripe), fish balls, beef balls and my absolute favorite — fish dumplings!

I’d only eaten fish dumplings once on this trip and they were not very good so I was really looking forward to having some more just to satiate my palate.

We order a bowl of egg noodles for my son with beef, brisket and tongue — what he wanted. The broth was very flavorful and I’m glad there was no MSG in it as so many similar noodle shops in Hong Kong will succumb to. My son ate the beef and brisket, but the tongue’s texture is not like the one he loves at Korean barbecue so he ended up leaving it.

Fried fish skin (HK$10/US$1.30) is another ubiquitous item to order at these Chiu Chow style noodle shops. The crispy skin is really tasty and can be eaten like a snack. Most Hong Kongers will dip the skin into the broth to soften it slightly before taking a bite.

My bowl of egg noodle/rice vermicelli combo had black beef tripe, tendon and my favorite fish dumplings. The tripe has a great crunchy texture but doesn’t really have much of a taste. I dipped it into the house-made chili sauce for an added effect. Tendon was melt-in-my-mouth and the fish dumplings were plump and oh so good.

Of course, I couldn’t leave after eating just three fish dumplings so I ordered a side of fish dumplings, squid balls, beef balls and the most delicious pork balls with cilantro and mushrooms.

A side of gailan or Chinese broccoli (HK$9/US$1.15) was flavored by beef jus — the sauce that the brisket was cooking in. The veggies were tender and delicious.

When we were done, my friend May insisted we try Coco-Jam Toast (HK$7/US$0.90) — Hong Kong style toast smothered with coconut jam from the Philippines. I love the texture of the toast with the sweetness of the jam. A lovely way to finish out the meal.

These types of hole-in-the-wall restaurants are still THE absolute BEST way to eat your way across Hong Kong. The food is great, prices are cheap and it introduces you to the way Hong Kong people live on a daily basis.

Chiuchownese Noodle Shop
2-14 Centre Street
Sai Ying Pun
Hong Kong
+852 2549 6088

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