Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Yuen Long Eats

Noodle-fest at Ho To Tai, which was mentioned in this year's Michelin Guide
On the weekend my relatives took me to Yuen Long, where we went around and had our own foodie tour of local eateries.

Don't underestimate the flavours from this simple noodle dish
We took a bus from Jordan which went through West Kowloon and then north west to Yuen Long in a relatively short period of time.

Our first, and most important stop was Ho To Tai Noodle Shop. Opened in 1948, it was the place my great aunt and grandmother would go to get noodles for the family. They would get as many noodle cakes as they could carry and then store them in giant tin containers. After school my dad and his siblings would get steaming bowls of noodles to eat.

My mom remembers the place fondly. My mother's side of the family lived on a farm in Kam Tin and probably not every weekend, but it was a treat to come here to the noodle shop and have a bowl of wonton noodles.

The ground floor dining area of Ho To Tai in Yuen Long
This was my first time going to the shop and by today's standards it has its old school charm. The two-storey shop packs in the diners much like Mak's Noodles with small booths, while cases of glass bottled soft drinks are stacked haphazardly around the dining area.

As there were four of us, we each ordered a different dish. First up was the sui gao lo e-mein. The sui gao are flat and triangular, filled with minced pork, shrimp and wood ear fungus with a touch of shrimp roe. We also ordered the soup version.

Next came egg noodles with thin strips of pork in a tomato sauce. The noodles were slightly al dente and went well with the pork and sauce when mixed together.

The bowl of beef tendon at Victory Beef Ball was delicious
Finally the wonton noodles with egg noodles arrived, and while wontons are not delicate like Mak's Noodles, the ones here were a bit rough around the edges and slightly salty.

We also ordered turnip with shrimp roe that was delicious, as well as another plate of wide egg noodles with oyster sauce, julienne of ginger and young spring onions sliced lengthwise. When mixed together, this dish worked very well -- simple pleasures with fresh ingredients that made the noodles taste extraordinary.

Our next stop was Victory Beef Ball. To conserve our stomachs we ordered a bowl of only beef balls in broth, and a bowl of beef tendon. The former were meaty but also had a bit of an elastic crunch to them, while we enjoyed the tendon, almost melting in the mouth, very smooth and flavourful.

Wife cakes (top shelf), ginger and preserved egg cakes (below)
Hang Heung is known for its lo po beng or wife cakes so we came here for some, along with ginger and preserved egg cakes, and red bean ones too.

Finally we headed to Tai Wing Wah, known for its roast meats, but also this branch has a menu featuring dishes all at the same price. The place is also famous for its rice baked in clay bowls that you can flavour with soy sauce and pork lard... yes lard...!

Our plate of char siu was disappointing -- the pork was too lean and didn't have enough fat to make it tender and it tasted as if it hasn't been marinated long enough. Our soy roast chicken was delicious, but as it was presented in a bowl, we could later see lots of oil half way up the bowl... nevertheless the chicken was very tender.

Char siu (top left) and roast soy chicken on the right
Fish maw stir-fried with egg whites was nothing spectacular, while the steamed pumpkin with squid topped with garlic was delicious and interesting. The slices of pumpkin soaked up the garlic and squid flavours and overall the dish had many textures, soft, crunchy, sweet and savoury.

Stuffed fish that was deep-fried is labour intensive, but the execution here was not up to par. The fish is supposed to be carefully deboned, the fish meat ground up and perked up with mandarin peel and scallions before being restuffed back into the fish and then deep-fried.

This one had the odd bone stuck in it, and the slices were so roughly chopped, it was as if the chef had no interest in making the dish at all. We preferred the one we ate at Lin Heung Kui over a week earlier.

Fantastic steamed pumpkin and squid with lots of garlic
Finally for dessert, the steamed sponge cake was a light shade of yellow -- using white sugar, though it was nice and fluffy.

We rolled out of the restaurant and I got to my bus stop to get back to Hong Kong Island. The bus stops have an electronic board that tells you when your bus is expected to arrive. In my case, the estimation was off by two or three minutes. Not bad.

It took me 40 minutes to get from Yuen Long to Shun Tak Ferry Terminal in Sheung Wan, and then another 20 by tram.

I bought a box of wide egg noodles from Ho To Tai. I'll be eating them for a while...

Ho To Tai
G/F, 67 Fau Tsoi Street
Yuen Long
2476 2495

Victory Beef Ball
Shop 1, G/F, Kit Man House
Kuk Ting Street
Yuen Long
2475 5575

Hang Heung
66 Castle Peak Road
Yuen Long
2474 5731

Wing Wah
2/F, Koon Wong Mansion
2-6 On Ning Road
Yuen Long
2476 9888

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