My folks have always taught me that tackling with noodles requires tricky practices in etiquettes. However difficult it is, slurping with noises made is unacceptable. I later overturned the entire thing by an experience at a dinner meanly ordering Japanese soba. Etiquettes aside, I found myself instinctly muting the sounds when eating noodles -- any kind of noodles from Vietnamese rice sticks to Italian Spaghetti. Just as I thought I have kept my manners, I broke them once, at 麥兆記.
The latest star of the Mak's wonton noodle dynasty has a rising popularity. Its fanbase comes from all over town. Heaping crowds gather outside looking in, hoping against all odds, that there will be a table for them. Squeezing in is essential, as the limited space seats about 30. Hot tea was served and chopsticks were laid, I promptly ordered a wonton noodle soup ($22). The sweet aroma of dried fish and shrimp roe filled the air in the kitchen unfront. Seeing the cook dipping a gigantic ladle into the pot of barely simmering soup and dividing among bowls, before placing heaped of egg noodles into each bowl, The noodles arrived promptly. The soup was the colour of a light consomme, with a sunny glow to it. Thin batons of chives floated on the surface of the soup, adding the lone spot of green (or yellowish green to be exact) in the bowl. I picked up the noodles by a small bunch -- thin golden strands of thin egg noodles ever so fragile, ascending from the golden sea of flavorful broth. The noodles had a decided bite to it, not quite what the Italians call it al dente, but with the noodles themselves, the glutinous texture is unlike any egg noodles out there.
The wontons were of the smaller variety. Many times I looked at wontons in a glowering rage when they are the size of a baby's fist -- packed with shrimps and the absence of pork don't quite make wontons, they should be considered shrimp dumplings instead. Proper wontons should be made with wrappers so thin you can see through them into the filling. There should be a standard proportion of shrimps to fatty pork. One should not overpower the other. The filling should be small enough to have extra wrappers hanging out. The feathery lightness of the wonton wrappers softened against the subtle broth.
Brisket noodle soup ($24) is another favorite here at 麥兆記. I have meanly ordered the thicker egg noodles this time. The thicker variety resembled a curly linguine in width, except that the noodle itself is thinner, which yield softer noodles. The order arrived, as the broth has transformed into a spicy (containing spices, not hot) concoction that's brown and velvety smooth with none of the hard-core aftertaste that some broths tend to make you. The noodles were impressively executed with a crunch as usual. The brisket though, was not as impressive. It came in smaller chunks, almost like a ragu. I loved it in a way as cooked brisket tends to get in the gaps between teeth, but the chunkiness of beef was somehow lost in this rendition of braised brisket. The spices were there, you can taste strong notes of star anise and cassia bark in the mix, with prominent nose of dried tangerine peel to finish.
Those who are less attracted to briskets or wontons can choose the ShuiGau, which are elongated dumplings with shrimps, pork, bamboo shoots and woodears as filling. The shoots and woodears offer a delightful crunch to the filling. Portioning is never a problem here at 麥兆記. You should feel satisfied enough with one bowl of noodles. You can always opt for the plate 'stir noodles' if you prefer a bigger portion.
Noodles with Brisket (牛腩麵)
Wonton Noodle Soup ($22)
Spending per head: Approximately HKD22(Dinner)Other Ratings:
Value for Money 4