Kau Kee 九記牛腩 – The Hong Kong Beef Brisket Noodles Institution
[Hong Kong] The 90 plus year old Kau Kee at Gough Street has become the ‘must-visit’ restaurant for beef brisket noodles, included into many foodies’ bucket list. What is the charm, you may wonder.
Despite looking kind of run-down, the noodle shop is on the Michelin recommended “Big Gourmand” list for several years, with celebrity patrons from Chief Executive of Hong Kong Donald Tsang to award-winning actor Tony Leung. (Must have been a long time ago. The Tony Leung now would cause a massive stir if he is there.)
Getting to Kau Kee is a 15-20 minute walk from either Central or Sheung Wan MTR (do not miss Sing Heung Yuen’s tomato noodles while you are here).
I usually go via Central MTR, coming from the Mid-Level escalators, walking past several dai pai dong and characteristic indie shops and cafes.
Depending on what time you go, there would always be a queue (seems like 90% tourists) that can take anything between 10 minutes to an hour or more. Be prepared to sit in a crowded cramped place with strangers on the same table and slippery floor.
On its menu: Beef Brisket, Slices or Tendon in Broth, Curry, and Oyster Sauce, with choices of Rice Noodle, E-Fu, Flat Noodle or Vermicelli, ranging generally from HK$30 to HK$66. There is also a Kau Kee’s Special Beef Brisket In Broth for HK$155. Emmm… too expensive for me.
There is a minimum spending of HK$40 per diner by the way.
My friend who was a first-timer was expecting the typical thin springy noodles used in other beef brisket eateries, but none of this was used here.
Most customers would go for the Beef Brisket With E-Fu Noodle In Broth (HK$43) or Beef Tendon Noodles In Curry (HK$43) – which can be described as rich and oily, but full on in flavours and spiciness. Now imagine some melt-in-your mouth tendons soaked right in that curry gravy.
However, I was not overly blown away by the Beef Brisket Noodles in broth. It was a good bowl – clear and light, no doubt about that. But the lack of umami-ness made me wonder if this bowl had seen better days before.
Not sure if Kau Kee can be considered the ‘best’ beef brisket noodles in Hong Kong, but this almost a century old noodle shop manages to stand the test of time, and is a feat in itself.
Kau Kee 九記牛腩
21 Gough Street, Central, Hong Kong (15-20 min walk from Central or Sheung Wan MTR)
Tel +852 2850 5967
Opening Hours 12:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon-Sat), Closed Sun, PH and Lunar New Year period for 10 days