Category Archives: Restaurants

Maureen’s Noodle Shop

In a presently more secluded and less commercial part of Wan Chai, some noisy and active renovation is taking place. The Blue House is surrounded by construction boards, stacks of steel re-bar and cement trucks. It should look good once the developers are done with it.

Across this temporary but rather messy environment, a purple canopy is extended Monday to Saturday between 10am to 9pm. Chef and owner Maureen Loh can often be found working behind the bar like kitchen counter in her matching purple chef’s shirt, checking her timers or temperature settings on her various sous vide machines. Her two excellent chef assistants and waitress start early, weighing noodle portions and setting up the kitchen for the day. 

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Maureen’s specialty is noodle sets with an array of accompaniments, all evenly cooked through a process of heated water 60 degree Celsius permeating its heat through a bag containing the meat. 

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The “Perfect” soft boiled egg with a won ton skin cracker

The proteins are uniformly teased into a palatable form and absorb the flavours of the accompanying herbs and sauces. 

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Delicious broth, served steaming hot

Almost everyone will find a meat that will work for them. Chicken, beef, lamb, duck, pork and salmon are the mains, while accompaniments are abalone in the pricier sets, the cheaper sets include an egg and simple salads.

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Lunch sets range start from about 100HKD and upwards. It includes soup, salad and the noodles.

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I’ve tried almost all the sets and all are good but it does depend on what sort of taste you’re after. I ordered the chicken set with the tangy lemon sauce. Unfortunately I ate it all before I could take a photo… But you can get an idea here.

I’m a huge fan of Maureen’s and am there at least once a fortnight. You can almost always get a seat before twelve noon but lunchtime 12-2pm can bring in the crowds and you may struggle to get a seat. 

Maureen has a daughter of her own who occasionally comes by the restaurant. She takes care that the food is wholesome and healthy. The restaurant isn’t designed for children, there are no high chairs or kids cutlery but the staff are very friendly towards children and will do their best to accommodate them. There’s only space for one pram in the restaurant so it’s best if you can bring your kids without one.

You can now also order her noodles through Food Panda for takeaway.

Something Wild, Emperor Group Building, Wan Chai

I noticed a new restaurant had opened up in the Emperor Group Building about two weeks ago when some new placards and signs went up in the main lobby windows.  Called “Something Wild“, it really inspired me to carefully inspect the poster for what it’s specialties might be. The poster didn’t give away much, just a photo of a rather interesting looking salad.

It wasn’t until just 3 days ago when I was cruising the sidewalk along the building that I saw a lady handing out flyers on behalf of the restaurant. The flyer touted brunch, lunch and tea specials. 

Yesterday, after attending a birthday cooking class at Spring, we were at a loss as to where to go for lunch. The Japanese joint in Star Street that we’d wanted to try was shut on Sundays (why, why? Why?) so another toddler-friendly place needed to be found. So I suggested we lug the three kids and four adults over to Something Wild to check it out. Their Facebook page and website listing seemed inspiring… An outdoor theme reminiscent of caravans and camping trips.. Sounds kid perfect.

The lady on the phone confirmed that they are indeed open on Sundays but made a point that the buffet was not available. However the a-la-carte menu was alongside a special brunch menu.

So off we went.

The restaurant occupied a decent sized space on the first floor of the Emperor Group building. Escalators at the front take you up to the first floor, but if you have a stroller or pram, a cargo lift is available.

The restaurant had a front, cafe like seating section and a more communal like dining area for larger groups in the back. That’s where we sat.

  
There were solid wooden tables reminiscent of what you might get at Bavarian beer hall or Swiss wooden constructed pub in a ski resort. Nice checked cloth napkins and of course flasks of warm water to fill your metal camping cup. It was nice to be able to have as much warm water as we wanted. The staff were very polite and efficient, filling the replacement flasks discreetly and watching for table service. The lighting was a little strange… It was neither light enough nor dark in a romantic sense… It was kind of dim… I suppose it was lit like a winter time chalet at night.

  
There’s an open kitchen at the back so you can see what’s going on.

  

open concept kitchen
 Food wise, the menu included the weekend brunch specials and a fold out map menu. 

 

brunch menu
 
I ordered a sunrise breakfast for the small person and a vodka rigatoni for myself. 

 

the menu
  
 
It is important to note that this restaurant tells us it’s a BBQ restaurant so I should probably have ordered the ribs to get an accurate idea of the kitchen’s expertise. 

Anyway.

 

Vodka rigatoni & sunrise breakfast
 
The sunrise breakfast consisted of an egg, 3 sausages, a bit of a potato waffle and beetroot. Small person, who usually has a fondness for sausages rejected them after just one bite. “Too spicy” she said. When I popped one in my mouth, it did have a strong taste of Rosemary. Not in a bad way but I can see why it can easily overwhelm the taste buds of a toddler. 

My rigatoni was mediocre. The meat sauce didn’t impart much flavour one way or the other and I wasn’t convinced there was much meat to it either. Could’ve been a killer dish but it wasn’t.

  

Honoring HK’s hiker to Mount Everest
 When the bill came, I noticed that they employed a Starbucks attitude to wifi access. Pay and enjoy 30 minutes free wifi. The concept seems wrong here though. 

  
 Restaurant bills are usually settled when the guests intend to leave… Are they encouraged to linger on for another half hour occupying seats for someone else? They should just make it free for dine-in guests. 

Finally back to the lighting. In this era of digital media, restaurants and cafes would do well to spend carefully on lighting.. This restaurant was too dim to take good photos of anything so it probably looks worse in my photos then it is. Would I return? Not sure to be honest. I give it a thumbs up for service friendliness, kid friendliness (indeed several families were there) and general laid back atmosphere. The food we got was not exciting. If they incentivised me back for the buffet I guess I might be tempted to check it out again. 

Quick no MSG Noodle Lunch on Landale Street

Landale street has been having a makeover lately. Gone are many of the little local grimier places, replaced with several spanking new eating joints.

One of them has a particularly fancy name that has a millennial marketing feel to it. Foxtail and Broomcorn declare their philosophy of using no MSG and using slow cooking techniques.

  
I invited a friend to try the noodles there with me today for an early quick lunch before small person had to be shuttled to school.

  

  

What a great day for a bowl of hot noodle soup”, remarked my friend as we settled in our seats. The temperature has dropped around 5 degrees overnight to the relief of all Hong Kongers. Winter, is finally here.

We went at 11.30am and the crowd followed at noon. While no one else was occupying the high tables, the staff permitted my pram in the restaurant. However once the tables filled up, my pram was relegated outside just beyond the glass sliding door. We were sitting right by the door so I didn’t mind.

  
Lunch sets were very reasonable at less than HKD 80 per head. The noodles were a decent portion, the soup was tasty but I wish that these noodle shops would add a tad more green vegetables to their serving. I find this lacking at every noodle shop except at 一碗面. Vegetables are relatively inexpensive but possibly more work to process and clean. Perhaps most diners prefer having more protein. (Hmm an idea would be for them to provide an option for one to order meat and vegetables in broth with less or no noodles.)

  
I had the Amoy fish bee hoon noodles, my friend had the chicken coconut soup bee hoon noodles.

The set comes with a choice of drink and we were recommended the house fruit tea. It was served warm, which was as requested, but a tad in the sweet side. Ice would have solved this by dilution I suppose.

Overall it is was okay, nice presentation for menus and ambience but it would be better if the dishes looked as hearty as the photos in the menu. Perhaps we’ll try the starters next time and see how those work out.

Note for families

  1. No high chairs available
  2. No children utensils or plates but everything is plastic.
  3. Soup spoons (they claim this was the only spoon they have) are too large for comfortable toddler eating
  4. Get the bench seating if going with kids.
  5. Try to sit near the door if you have a pram.
  6. Peak hours 12-2pm, queues build up very quickly during this time.

  

Hokkaido Dairy Farm: Family friendly HK style “tea house”

I have possibly the biggest baby pram/stroller in Wan Chai. I have seen a few others of the same make and model but yet to see one that’s larger. Many people grunt and tut when they see me coming, some even grumble audibly. Well, the kid is comfortable in it, it’s got big wheels to glide over the nasty bumps and I’ve got tons of space for toys and groceries. So there.
A cha chaan teng in Wan Chai that will allow you to bring a stroller in? It’s pretty much unheard of. Parents with a stroller and kids in tow are relegated to eating only at Eric Kayser or Starbucks (or Passion at off peak hours). Where can one go for a Hong Kong style breakfast that will allow a mommy, baby and monster stroller in?

Hokkaido Dairy Farm
This is an important announcement to all mothers wanting a HK style breakfast. If you have your pram/ stroller with you, you can forget about eating in the famous Kam Fung or Capital Cafe. Famous they may be, but so popular that space they have none. They fill every square inch of space with a table or a stool. Aisles between tables are so narrow, you need to crab walk by them to squeeze into your seat… My pram barely made it through the front door of Capital Cafe and it got stuck in an aisle by the open tables. The staff yelled at me to shut the pram but I yelled back that it wouldn’t make a difference. That’s when they threw me out. Oh well.

Not at Hokkaido Dairy Farm. At off peak hours, this little cha chaan teng is quiet, service is fantastic (look out for a staff by the name of Mui Lee- super switched on), and the food serving is hearty.

Breakfast at HDF

The menu is the similar to other HK cha chaan tengs so at least you’ll get your fix. There’s a kids menu too. My little one wanted macaroni so that’s what she got.

Menus at HDF
If my stroller fits through the doors, yours will too.

  
Here’s how to find it. On Johnston road, between Hennessy Primary School and the iClub Wan Chai hotel. If you’re lost, look around for the 759 store and go towards the left as you look at the entrance.