Thursday, June 30, 2011

Noodles, liver and tofu - A mini Sham Shui Po food crawl

Inspired by Jason's post on Lau Sum Kee, one weekend, Jen and I went to Sham Shui Po, western Kowloon, just a little further west from Mong Kok.

The morning before we were due to meet, I trawled Openrice and the wider internet for tips on where to go - because we weren't gonna go all the way out there* just for a plate of noodles!

*ok, it's not that far - very convenient by MTR actually.

My Sham Shui Po "map", if you could call it that. How about "Artist's Representation of SSP"?
So I drew up a crappy map (I would have printed a Google map, but I don't have a printer at home... is that weird?) and wrote the names down in my kindergarten-Chinese handwriting and set off.

Lau Sum Kee
48 Kweilin Street

Lau Sum Kee is known as one of Hong Kong's last remaining wonton noodle shops that still kneads their dough using a huge bamboo pole.

How it works: there's a huge bamboo pole on a lever of sorts that goes above a table. Dough is put on the table, under the pole. The noodle maker rides the pole and bounces on it rhythmically to flatten out and knead the dough. (However I say it, it sounds scandalous, but trust me, it isn't. Or don't trust me and watch the Youtube video above.)

[edit: thanks to Miki in the comments below for reminding me to say that you can't actually see anyone doing this at Lau Sum Kee - well, at least we didn't when we went... Also, another place that supposedly does bamboo noodles is Wing Wah in Wanchai. The noodles there are less bouncy and more pasta-like though, and similarly, I never see no poles.]

I had wonton (雲吞) and dried shrimp roe (蝦子) "dry mixed" wide noodles (撈麵) (i.e. 雲吞蝦子撈麵 the noodles come on the side, rather than in soup). The wontons weren't all that special, and the shrimp roe was the tiny, dusty variety (fancy pants restaurants like Tim's Kitchen would never put in on their pomelo skin, for example) but for under $2xHK - this is still pretty darn good. The noodles alone make it worth it.

Wide/"thick" bamboo noodles
They're incredibly bouncy - they have a sort of bite that is closer to really nice just-cooked strips of squid than al dente pasta. They don't have the starchy flouriness of Italian pasta at all. It's tossed in a bit of lard for extra fragrance (aside from the shrimp roe). I just wanted to chomp chomp chomp away.

If you like knuckle, you might want to try their slow-cooked pork knuckles (pork knuckles are simply called 豬手) with noodles too.
Wai Kee
62 & 66 Fuk Wing Street, and Pei Ho Street 165-167

We were at Wai Kee for two things - pork liver vermicelli and kaya "French toast".

Yin yeung (coffee + tea + milk)
I put French toast in inverted commas, because if you didn't grow up with HK-style French toast, this will not look like French toast to you.
Kaya French Toast
See what I mean? It's a deep fried sandwich that's filled with kaya, or coconut jam (咖央西多士). Kaya has its origins in Malaysia and Singapore, where it's made with copious amounts of egg yolk, sugar (palm I guess?), shredded coconut, and a lot of low-temp slow cooking. Yeahhh. Wai Kee also happens to make their own kaya, which is less rich (less egg yolk?) than what I'm used to in Malaysia (e.g. at Yut Kee in KL, who also make their own). I also found it a little more sugary. Nonetheless, it's a scrumptious heart attack in about 8cm squared.

Pig's liver & beef rice noodles
The piece de resistance - pork liver slices (and beef but you can't see it) in rice vermicelli (豬潤牛肉麵). It isn't perfect - the liver is a little overcooked and "grainy" in my opinion, but it's probably (ironically) because Hongkies are super careful about cooking pork so that they don't get sick from it. It's just a light soy noodle broth, liver and beef, just kind of haphazardly placed in the same bowl. There mightn't be a sauce or anything, but it's heavy stuff. And you know what, I take back my comment about the French toast. This whole darn shop is a heart attack - I mean that in the best way possible. Like a doughnut truck. How Hong Kong people stay so thin eating this stuff all day is anyone's guess - this place has permanent queues!

Kung Wo
118 Pei Ho Street

Once you find this store, hidden behind the semi-permanent street stalls, there's no mistake that they sell all things soybean. At the front, on one side is a chaotic display of tofu in their wooden draining boards and baskets so full of beansprouts they look like they're going to topple over and spill everywhere - but amazingly don't. On the other side, a lady is squished into a corner to man (a 'lady' to 'man' something, sounds so weird) a large flat pan, where she's frying little tiles of tofu filled with fish paste, or mini tofu puffs that have been deep-fried then hollowed out and also filled with fish paste.

Tofu Fa
We shimmied in and sat ourselves down on rickety chairs that are rusting and have probably been around since the 50s. No matter - it all works. By now we were already pretty stuffed, but we managed to slurp down a silky doufu fa (豆腐花) packed with soy flavours, but without the grainy coarseness. Doufu fa is basically tofu (soybean milk plus a coagulant like gypsum, but it can be nigari, like how Margaret Xu made it) with less fluid pushed out of it. Sprinkle a little (or a lot) of red sugar over it and imagine you're one of the kids in that cute Bruce Lee movie (Bruce Lee, My Brother), just hangin' out in a tofu store, playing records and wearing impossibly tight bellbottoms.

Kung Wo
Replete, it was then a short totter to the MTR and then home for a nap before dinner. All weekends should be like this.

View e_ting in Hong Kong in a larger map


  1. I totally want to recreate that day when a friend of mine is in town next week. Also that bamboo kneading video is laugh out loud ridiculous...! I need to see that.

  2. Hey Miki, glad you want to try it out. I would repeat this anyday! Unfortunately we didn't seem to be able to see anyone riding any poles at Lau Sum Kee though - maybe they do it in a special room somewhere or really early in the morning...?

  3. Awesome photos! I want that tofu pudding again and the toast. Such a good day.

  4. You already know this but thanks for this!

    Incredibly useful to both have the addresses and the pictures. The people on the wonton place found it rather funny with me stabbing at an iphone.

    That tofu as well... wow

  5. Fishtails9:39 am

    Hi there. Loved your blog and a fan since i chance upon it while searching for comments on best afternoon teas in HK. However, i still felt i need to clarify that Kaya gets it's most important flavor from 'Pandan' leaves. This green plant/grass is easily found in Singapore/Malaysia, where Kaya originates from and something many locals know how to make from scratch.

  6. Love your blog, and it really helps with our Christmas planning :) Though I'm a bit curious why you would call Hong Kongers/ Hong Kongese Honkies? It's been used but mostly in an offensive way isn't it? I once called my Singaporean friends Sinkies, to show them how I feel. They din't take it very well ;)

  7. Lau Sum Kee has English menu. Just ask for it.