Mak’s Noodles was mentioned and agreed by many of my Facebook friends as The Best Wanton Noodles in Hong Kong when I asked where are the ‘Die Die Must Try’ food places in the city. Having come all the way from Singapore, I am definitely not going to leave without getting a taste and giving my personal verdict on the noodles. Thankfully, this famous joint was located pretty closed to Bombay Dreams – supposedly the Best Indian Restaurant in Hong Kong where my Japanese friend wanted to bring me to for their lunch buffet.
The walk to Mak’s Noodles was a pleasant one. Wellington Street is like quintessential old Hong Kong. Do you recognise this flower shop? It was used as a scene in one of Daniel Wu’s movies.
It did not take long before we stumble upon Mak’s Noodles 麥奀雲吞麵世家! Established since 1968, Mak’s Noodles has a reputation for serving one of the best wanton noodles in Hong Kong and has earned its place as one of the World’s Cheapest Michelin Starred Restaurants.
Despite its high standings in Hong Kong’s culinary scene, the price was pretty decent. Given that we were heading for an Indian ‘All You Can Eat’ Buffet an hour later, we ordered just a bowl of Wanton Noodles In Soup (S$5.30) to share. Our decision invited a cold hard stare from the uncle who was taking our orders. He was obviously displeased and made some remarks in Cantonese. To appease him, we threw in an additional order of Seasonal Vegetable with Oyster Sauce (S$4.50). Compared to Taiwan, Hong Kong has a long way to go when it comes to customer service.
Visiting before the peak lunch hours allowed us a glimpse into some of the food preparation process.
This tight little corner is where our noodle master dish out bowls after bowls of yummy wanton noodles. I bet the cooking corner was made to face the main street intentionally to attract diners attention and lure them in. Of course, that was way before they got famous.
It took less than 5 minutes for our piping hot bowl of Wanton Noodles In Soup to be served. The serving size was pretty small, 1.5 x bowls would probably make up a bowl of Bak Chor Mee in Singapore. It was said that Mak insisted on the small serving size to prevent the noodles from sitting in the broth too long and turning soggy. True enough, the noodles commanded a springy yet wiry texture that was very different from our familiar Mee Kia.
Unlike Singapore where wantons are visibly presented, Hong Kong people seem to prefer them hidden. Wantons are made with several shrimp held together by a delicate flour wrapper. The shrimps were really fresh but the size of the wanton can be made a little bigger.
Our Seasonal Vegetable with Oyster Sauce was surprisingly good. Loved the crunchiness and the thick, flavourful oyster sauce that goes with it. Must be a top secret oyster sauce recipe they have there.
Additional seasoning is available in case you need them for your wantons and remember to pick your teeth after your meal.
The noodles, wantons and soup base are really tasty but it still comes across to me as regular by the standards in Hong Kong. I have visited a few other restaurants and their wanton noodles are pretty much on par with that of Mak’s. In fact, they served bigger and better wantons.
It’s hard to stay number one all the time even for a wanton noodles joint. If Mak’s Noodles rests on its laurels, it faces the threat of being replaced by competitors who are copying the taste and texture of its noodles and wantons everyday as we speak. This means a faster threat of competition which is ever so present in Hong Kong.
Increasingly, the only advantage Mak’s may have is its cheapest Michelin starred restaurant title. But being cheap is no guarantee of success, especially if their competition is better and faster (in service and offers).
It’s my wish that Mak’s continues to thrive by serving up cheap and good wanton mee, having more polite and better service staff and also scaling up production to serve more customers faster. With more customers, the hourly pay and bonuses of their staff will generally increase.. Sounds like an oft-heard cheaper better faster model I read on someone’s Facebook post! (LOL)
That’s my take on Mak’s Noodles, go try it when you are in Hong Kong and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Mak’s Noodles 麥奀雲吞麵世家
Address: G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2854 3810
Operating Hours: 11 am to 10 pm Daily
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