Saturday, December 3, 2016

One Star Wonton

It's been a long long while since I last visited Ho Hung Kee, definitely not after they moved out from their old shop on the street level into a large shopping mall a couple blocks away.

We weren't all that surprised when we arrived at the restaurant during lunch hour on Saturday we saw quite a crowd waiting outside for a table, with a majority being out-of-towners. In retrospect we should have come earlier or use the new system to let us pick up a ticket ahead of time through an iPhone app. Anyway, turned out it's only a quick 15, 20 minute wait before we were seated at one of the booths on the side of the restaurant. The interior and set up was a clear upgrade from their old shop, with more modern décor, more space, bigger capacity and more comfortable chairs with kitchen now hidden at the back instead of near to the shop-front, yet it's still on the casual side like a typical local chachaanteng.

I usually came here just for a quick bowl of wonton noodles but this time we went a bit above, especially when I realized they are now offering an extended menu including dimsum and other a la carte dishes. Our food came surprisingly fast, some within minutes after we put in the order.

First to arrive was their signature wonton noodles. It came in the traditionally small portion though there was the option to "super-size" giving you a larger bowl. They were not the one with the strongest taste but I like the soup base with a mellow umami flavor. Same with the wontons beautifully wrapped with minced pork and shrimps. My biggest pet peeve with Cantonese egg noodles was the unpleasant alkali after-taste (that gave the noodles the bouncy texture) but here it's almost undetectable, even though that means the noodles were not the bounciest.

A few more dishes came just as we were done with our noodles. Congee is another specialty of the restaurant (other than the wonton noodles) and our fish congee was tasty. Again, it's much milder but with very distinct rice flavor, and has a smooth texture. On top was thick slices of carp fish fillet and finely-chopped green onions.

We were a bit perplexed at the color of the stir-fried beef noodles. It's much lighter than what we were accustomed to and almost like orange-color rather than brown, possibly because less dark soy sauce was used. But it tasted fine and the noodles were well-cooked with the right texture without being all greasy.

We had a couple more dimsum dishes before dessert. The deep-fried carp balls were served with the fermented clam sauce was good especially the sauce and while their steamed rice rolls were not the thinnest we have tried, I like the thin strips of pork livers stuffed inside. Our dessert of coconut pudding with red beans prepared in a flower-shaped mold was nostalgic and had creamy, rich coconut flavor.

The final bill turned out to be a bit more than what I expected from a regular wonton noodle meal, but then we did order a lot of food this time and all the dishes were decent. I have no opinion whether the place justified the one-star rating - that's up to the Michelin inspector of course - but next time we will definitely plan better to cut short our waiting time.

When? November 19 2016
Where? Ho Hung Kee, Shop 1204-05, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Signature Wonton Noodles

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