KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Hong Kong Noodle disappeared from the culinary scene because of the pandemic and fans who loved their fragrant chilli oil and tender beef brisket noodles were crushed.
Some like Makan Time's Daniel Chong would reminisce about their food to me but deep down, I felt they would return; their Kepong shop remained closed but their signboard was intact.
I found out they had reopened mid-June. When I visited, it felt like I was walking into the past as everything was the same like it was in 2020. The food is prepared behind glass panels just like a Hong Kong shop. The offerings are the same and even the kitchen with that all-important huge soup pot to brew the beef broth was there.
Sure, we're all masked and there's a different crew behind the scenes now but owner Hung Shu Cheong was there to greet us with his friendly smile. It truly felt like a homecoming.
This time round, he has partnered with locals like Mark Mah Chee Weng and Lim Kah Wai to operate the business. Previously, Hung ran two businesses, one in Hong Kong and one in Malaysia.
He had to close the Yuen Long eatery because of the pandemic so his focus is now on this place. Even though he was in Hong Kong the past two years, he maintained this place, paying the rent every month.
Word had gotten out about their reopening so the place was filled with diners during lunch. Apparently there are even queues on weekends.
If you're new to them, the best choice would be their three treasure noodles for RM21.80. It ticks all the boxes for a bovine lover. There's a fortified beef broth perfumed with various spices. You have slices of beef brisket, stewed to a tender texture. This contrasts with the slight crunch of the honeycomb tripe. Last but not least, the tendons are superb.
Apparently, Hung explained, the tendons are slowly stewed for more than 10 hours to create a texture that finely balances a gelatinous bite while remaining slightly firm.
Most people would prefer to enjoy their beef noodles with the broth but take a risk and try it with egg noodles served dry. You may think, this is just like any ordinary dry noodles tossed in dark soy sauce but one taste of it confirms that this is a flavour bomb.
The fine strands are tossed with the concentrated beef broth that perfumes the noodles.
For those who prefer cleaner flavours, go for the beef slice noodles (RM15.80). The broth is lighter in taste as it's made from just beef bones which pairs well with the slippery rice noodles or lai fun.
You have tender beef slices too. If you feel the broth is too light for you, just add a dollop of the chilli oil and magic happens! Sip on it and you can taste the dried prawns from the chilli oil, which enhances that broth so well, making it an umami bomb.
Aside from the beef and well-prepared offal, you also get to enjoy their wantan (RM14.80). These plump morsels are stuffed generously with prawns and minced pork enhanced with dried flounder fish powder.
Enjoy them like how the Hong Kong people do... with a dash of vinegar. It's not the usual sharp taste you get with local vinegar as this has a slight sweet taste. The vinegar seems to enhance the taste of the wantan, giving it a more refreshing taste.
Even the sui kow or dumplings (RM14.80) are well executed here. They stuff it with roughly chopped prawns, shredded carrots and wood ear fungus. Each bite is delicious after you dip it in the vinegar.
Another item to look forward to here is the pork knuckle with red fermented bean curd (RM15.80). Hung makes this using a sauce that is concocted from nam yue and about 20 plus ingredients.
It is soaked in that sauce for about two hours to allow the flavours to be absorbed. Back in Hong Kong, he would sell about 10 kilograms of this stewed item. The pork with its layer of fat is delicious with the taste of the fermented bean curd.
I guess comparisons are inevitable since two years have passed. And yes, there are differences.
Overall, I felt the ingredients used were of much better quality as can be tasted in the broth or even the beef. Hung revealed that now he uses Australian Black Angus beef rather than New Zealand beef he used previously.
As he has built a bigger network of acquaintances locally, he now can source for better ingredients. However, costs have risen tremendously, about 40 per cent more than what it used to be two years ago. In his menu, the prices have risen but not by much... about RM1 more.
With regards to the chilli oil, a crowd favourite for many, I felt that it's definitely spicier than before. Previously, it was a condiment that tasted like a balance of dried prawns and chillies.
If you want a stronger taste of the dried prawns, just mix it with a clear beef broth and the aromatic dried prawns will emerge from behind the wall of spiciness.
Just also be aware that some items are still work in progress, like their milk tea. One sip of that iconic Hong Kong drink and you definitely get the fragrance of the tea but the milk misses the mark for smoothness.
Hung explained to us that he is still trying to source the right type of milk here so patience is needed for that perfect cuppa.
Hong Kong Noodle, G-9, VIM 3 Menjalara, Taman Menjalara, Bandar Menjalara, Kuala Lumpur. Open: 9am to 8pm. Closed on Monday. Tel:+6011-12319408/+6012-6728929.