Sometime last year, we were watching Bizarre Foods on the travel channel and saw Andrew Zimmern exploring Hong Kong. As usual, they showed us Andrew eating what we would call “unusual” food items, but they also showed Andrew eating noodles. That is normal food, at least for us, and there was nothing bizarre about noodles.
In this particular episode, they showed us Andrew going into this restaurant, where the chefs have to train for two years before they can cook in the restaurant. The noodles were homemade, hand-pulled noodles, which I have wanted to try to make, but I lack the courage to actually do it. I believe the noodles were precooked, or at least from what we saw, it was dipped into a pot of hot or boiling water. As much as I researched online and tried to watch the episode again, as well as posting the link so you can watch it as well, I was not able to find it. So I had to tell you the story based on my memory. And, for some of you… that is a scary thing!
The chef used a big iron wok and there was a pedal of some sort on the floor, where if the chef stepped on it, a blast of fire was produced under the wok. A pair of chopsticks was used instead of a spatula or a wok turner. As the chef tossed the noodles with the chopsticks, he added some of the homemade soy sauce to the wok. Supposedly, each strand would be coated evenly with the soy sauce, because only several strands of noodles were tossed at one time. Then, once in a while, the chef would hit the pedal and fire would flare up, delivering the intense heat to the wok. The high heat was intended to produce the Maillard reaction, in which the aroma, flavor and color of the noodle will be developed. Then as the last step, the chef added the bean sprout, and then sprinkled on a little bit of sesame seeds after putting the noodles on a plate.
As we watched Andrew eat noodles, both Hubby and I were thinking that when we transit in Hong Kong, we would find this restaurant and try these noodles. So when we planned our trip, we decided to stop over in Hong Kong for a day on the way to Indonesia, and two days on the way back. All for noodles! Yes, we are dedicated when it comes to food! :)
So, last month, during our one day stopover in Hong Kong, we took the Airport Express to go to town and find this restaurant. Of course, we did our research as far as the name of the restaurant, Manor, the address, and which subway station we should take. Actually, let me take that back. Hubby did all the research, and I just followed along. My responsibility was to haul around the small gadget which will connect us to the world of useful and worthless knowledge, also known as internet, in case we got lost or something.
After a few wrong turns, we finally found the restaurant. Asking the cops did not help, since we asked them with the English name, rather than the Chinese name. And don’t look at me… I only know a few here and there… and I don’t speak Cantonese. My Cantonese is limited to “what are you talking about”, with a perfect Cantonese accent.
Back to Manor, it was located in the middle of a block, among various stores. There were people unloading pickup trucks, but most of the other businesses were not quite opened yet. We were early; we were there about 10:30 in the morning. The restaurant itself had not opened yet. The metal shutter that covered the restaurant was halfway drawn up, indicating that at least someone was inside. But the restaurant itself didn’t open until about 11 o’clock, according to the sign by the glass window. We had to hunch over and study what we could see from the signage. They offered dim sum in the morning, but nowhere on the display did it mention the noodles. So we looked each other and said that we would just have to find out.
So we walked around the block and came right back to the door at 10:58. I know, we were not going anywhere else until we had our noodles. Then, at 11:00, a girl came out of the restaurant, and finished pushing up the metal shutter. She saw us hovering there and she let us in while she continued opening the restaurant. As we walked inside, a male waiter saw us and told us that the restaurant was not open yet. In a moment of confusion, luckily the girl came back and took us to a table in a corner. Bless her heart. She knew hungry tourists.
So we plopped ourselves down, and looked around. Well, actually, in this picture below, we were looking at the camera… ha ha…
We understood then that this restaurant was not just simple noodle place. It is a nice restaurant, with about 8 round tables. I am not sure if they have a second floor to accommodate more customers or not.
The girl handed out a dim sum menu, with no English on it. So we proceeded to ask her if they have noodles. She nodded, went away, and came back with a different menu. It was still in Chinese. Since I was illiterate, we asked her about “Soy sauce noodles”. She said yes and pointed out to the menu number 156. We asked her to bring us two portions of the noodles; that’s when she said that the quantity of one portion of noodles will be enough for two of us. So we ended up ordering only one portion of noodles.
While we waited, we asked for a glass of ice cubes and Chinese tea. From our experience last year, most of the restaurants in Hong Kong don’t serve “Iced Tea”. But when you asked for a glass of ice cubes and Chinese tea, you can make your own iced tea. :) They also give you a small plate of salted peanuts and anchovies to snack on, which I neglected to take a picture of. When we were waiting for our noodles, from time to time we heard this “whoosh” from inside the kitchen. We figured that was the blast of fire for the noodles.
After a few minutes, we got our noodles. It was served on a square white plate with ridges. A mound of noodles was in the middle of the plate. The noodles were brownish, thin, egg noodles. Each strand was visible and not sticking to each other. Bean sprouts were tangled between the noodles, and sesame seeds were sprinkled on top of the noodle.
Since there was only one dish of noodles, we each took some and put it on our individual plate. Before we took a bite, we asked the girl to have the chef cook us another serving. What she considered enough for two, is actually a portion for one person, for a Texan. So one portion for both of us definitely wouldn’t be enough for to satisfy our hunger.
We took a bite of the noodle, and oh my, it was really good. The noodle was chewy, not too soft and not hard. The texture of the noodle was such that you could feel each strand when you bite it. There was a hint of sweetness, but not too sweet, and we could also taste the “burnt” taste from a wok. The noodle wasn’t burnt per se, but it was a taste that only an iron wok could produce. All in all, it was a very good noodles. We definitely would come back if we go back to Hong Kong.
We also would like to try the dishes from this restaurant, which, from my research online, a majority people mentioned their Suckling Pig and Roasted Duck. Except, when there are only two of us, it is hard to order a lot of food. So, anyway, I apologize from the length of the post. I only meant it to be a blurb, and by golly, it is 3 meters long! Anyway, if you are around 440 Jaffe Road in Causeway Bay, be sure to try Manor’s Soy Sauce Noodle. You won’t be disappointed! Thanks Andrew for giving us a tip on this restaurant! Until my next post!