[Hong Kong] For a humble wonton noodle shop to be recommended by the Michelin Guide, it can only happen in Hong Kong.
Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔记 has earned its due by being categorised as “Bib Gourmand”, which translates in Michelin language as “inspector’s favourite for good value”.
Some 16 years ago in 1998, the noodle shop ‘dare dare’ took the bold move of setting up right opposite the highly regarded Mak’s Noodles at Wellington Street Central, once patronised by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.
Tsim Chai Kee served just noodles with three different toppings – shrimp wonton, beef slices, or/and fish ball. These three ingredients became the source of their popularity, and known to provide sizable income to feed 3 generations of their family.
If you are going to be hungry, greedy, or as half-hearted as I was, then opt for the all-in-one Three Toppings Noodle. All in for HKD$34 (SGD$5.80).
A bowl of King Prawn Wonton Noodle is at HKD$24 (SGD$4.00), while a Two Topping Noodle is HKD$30 (SGD$5.10).
The shrimp wontons at Tsim were a class of its own – fresh chunky prawns (two per dumpling) and minced pork packed into a big ping pong sized dumpling that gave a tasty crunch on every bite. Therefore many Hong Kongers also call this the ‘ping pong wanton shop’.
Just as you thought the wontons were big, the fishballs were bigger! They were not the usual white bouncy ones that we are familiar with, but starchy versions made from minced Chinese mud carp and other ingredients.
Every fishball is handmade freshly in-store daily. Every bite was a mirage of different tastes, as though pieces of yong tau foo were merged into one. You may be able to taste traces of pork within.
The light brown sliced beef slices, though seldom seen as an addition to such noodles, were absolutely complimentary with its soft tender texture.
Add a tinge of specially home-made chill sauce into the bouillon and you would be in wonton noodle heaven.
While the soup cannot escape not having MSG, the shop owners claim they keep the addition to the minimum, with use quality ingredients of pork bone, fish and luohan fruit for that unique taste.
Peak hour here is a frenzy, with many executives working in Central, as well as Japanese and Taiwanese tourists (okay, Singaporeans as well) coming armed with their guide books.
Tsim Chai Kee 沾仔记
98, Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong (near Central Mid-Levels escalators)
Tel: +852 2850 6471
Opening Hours: 9am – 10 pm Daily (Closed 4 days during Lunar New Year)