Nao Ramen @ Murray Street, Perth
Ramen Lab @ Mount Lawley, Perth
Genki SET Japanese @ Den Haag, Netherlands
The Little Ramen Bar @ Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
If you look around the internet, there is no doubt that wantons are easily one of the most popular things to try in Hong Kong besides yum cha and roast meats. So where do you find the best bowl of noodles? Well, I have been to a few place but none gets more rave reviews than Mak’s Noodles. Located just opposite Tsim Sai Kee (TSK)which also provide similar offerings, Mak’s Noodles and TSK are fierce competitors which are dividing the locals. Ok maybe not all the locals as most prefer TSK for its good bang per buck ratio. But how can I say that I have traveled to Hong Kong without eating the most raved about noodle shop?
The prawn wanton noodles $30 HKD.Needless to say, when the noodles came in a bowl no bigger than a small soup bowl I was shocked. It was really tiny! But where substance was concerned, the springy noodles cooked just right were an absolute joy to slurp. The broth used was rich and tasty. Chopped scallions too, gave the noodles a great fragrant! My favourite part of the noodles were undoubtedly the wantons. The prawns were fresh and bursty just the way it should be! Perhaps that was why the place is always packed. But if you had asked me whether I was mind blown by the overall dish, I would say not really. Great eat but not a mind blowing one.
As the little darling do not like prawns, she ordered Mak’s dry noodles with pork chutney.Noodles again were cooked spot on without question. I had a little of the chutney and found it very flavorful. It had a few spices which elevated its taste but what let me down was the meat itself. I was expecting something a little more melt in your mouth but the meat was just lean right through. The little darling enjoyed this!
The meal at Mak’s was no less impressive as the debate it causes among the online community. It was cooked well, the noodles really nice with a really nice bounce as you clip it with your chopsticks and wave away the heat. The prawn wantons were faultless and broth really tasty. Conversely, would this little charm be many times better than its across-the-road rival TSK? I would say not. How about the ones I have in the most random places in Hong Kong? I reckon if I had given Mak’s a full 30/30, TSK runs in close at 28 and most that I have eaten would be a 24 easy. So would I come back? Definitely yes! In a rush? No.
One very simple rule about traveling. If you are really on a food journey, then you really have to try the best local food. And so I did. With so many restaurants in the country, one would literally be lost in translation. Where do I go to? This? That? Where? Whatttttttttt? But with Michelin guides, you do not have too many to choose from. Just a simple list. For my Christmas Eve dinner, I thought to myself, instead of leaving Mongkok and crowd with everyone heading to Tsim Sha Shui or Central, we would just eat in the hotel itself. But Langham Place is no lousy hotel and that includes having quality restaurants too. This includes the 2 Michelin Star Chinese Restaurant, Ming Court. Coming at 8pm we were promptly attended to and was brought to a table which was already awaiting our arrival. I have to say even without a picture, that the restaurant looked fantastic. Its long and warmly lit walkway made me feel like I was in Rockpool for a bit!
Dipping sauces of XO Sauce and Spicy Bean Paste.
Then comes the food we ordered. While most have praised Yung Kee in Central for their divine roast goose, I have to insist that the one in Ming Court was pretty damn good too.It has probably one of the best roast goose skin I have ever eaten. It was really crisp! But one thing I found rather weird was that the goose itself was not extremely tasty. It was the sauce the goose was sitting on that tasted really delicious. The meat was nothing to rave about but it was still fairly juicy for a roast! However, goose being what it is felt a bit sickening after awhile as these had a good amount of fat in it. 5 ladies and 1 guy had problems finishing this meager first course. I lol’ed.
Second coarse was the Bean Curd Sheet, Dried Shrimp Roe, White Button Mushroom, Chinese Black Mushrooms.Despite the bean curd and mushrooms looking extremely heavy in flavor, it was not. The flavor felt subtle, no Chinese Oyster Sauce overdose whatsoever. It was just very light and gentle where you can really taste each individual flavors. In fact, it was the broccoli that complemented the dish with a salty braising sauce drizzled over it. The shrimp roe here appeared to me as a textural element along with a little fragrant more than anything else. Sandy little bugger.
Fish Maw, Vegetable, Bean curd, Mushrooms.In my life, I have never eaten such weird looking fish maw ever ever before. I guess this was one of the higher grade ones. Then again, I have always though fish maw to be puffy little tubes. But that does not matter much. This was great as the broth was awesome. Could have been better but good thing it was light because most of the dishes I have ordered were quite heavy on the palate.
Third Course was the 2009 HK Silver Culinary Award Winner the Giant Groper Enrobed in Minced Shrimp, Pepper Shrimp.I really liked this one. The minced shrimp on the fillet provided a nice chewiness to the fish. And oh, the still crispy skin of the fish made this really moorish! Definitely could have more of that! While I did not touch the prawn head, Nigga’s mom happily ate a few. And while the vegetables look like decorative items, they were meant to tone the dish giving a healthier feel. Not that it mattered to me. I was on holiday! hohohoho!
Fourth Course was an in-house signature dish of Silky Egg White, Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Perilla Leaf.While this was a feast to the eyes, we slow eaters left it out for too long making these fluffy layers of egg white pillows oily. The food really came out quite quickly @@! I guarantee it could have been very pleasant when ate warm but I guess we were a little too slow! The prawns that was hidden inside though was still delicious with a hint of pepper. More importantly, it was cooked spot on! :)!
The fifth course was a course of Pan-Seared Chicken, Water Chestnuts,Black Truffle, Buttery Pumpkin. It was something all us agreed tasted like a Michelin Starred Creation! More importantly for Ming Court, this dish was awarded a Gold Medal in the 2010 HK Culinary Awards. The idea was simple a chicken cake mixed with finely diced chestnuts for that little bits of sweet crunchy feeling. Buttery pumpkin did its job of bring subtle sweetness along with buttery sensation. The whole idea for me went really really well. It was tasty, yet light on the palate despite looking like something drenched in black pepper sauce. The truffle was used sparingly and provided no more than a modest coating. Delicious! It for me was the star of the night!
Our final course to fill the already filled tummies were diced black chicken fried rice.This although fried to perfection, it did not entice me. The “wok-hei” as the Chinese calls it or flavor of a hot wok was really alluring but somehow, the flair of an old school yong chow fried rice would have sufficed. No need for fancy black chicken or additional ingredients. Nonetheless, this was not a bad fried rice at all.
Our meal at Ming Court was really enjoyable but in terms of pricing, one would definitely not call Ming Court cheap. The meal for 6 including tea added up to 2000HKD or $40 a head which is pretty on par with most upper market places in Australia. However, the quality and ingredients used today were no simple thing one can easily order outside. But was this really a 2 Michelin Star restaurant? I really found that a difficult question to answer. The roast goose felt somewhat lackluster for something so highly rated. The bean curd dish was special but not quite that 2 stars along with the fried rice and fish maw dish. But when it came to the shrimp enrobe giant groper or the chicken with truffles, I decided to put the petty issues aside and enjoy the food for what it was worth. Such special dishes in my opinion might not be super new because fusing two meat together has been done quite frequently, but the way Ming Court does it, I was sold. So there you have it. Will I return? Yes. Next time around, I know what I would order :)!