While the noodlicious "heaven in a bowl" writeup I did for SCMP last month leaves us in no doubt about the lure of these charming noodles joints, we must face a fact even the blind can see before we move on to plan another rewarding noodles jaunt forward: the piece is written for, well, N2N, novices to noodles.
I mean, look at the list. It practically bears no difference than pointing Robert De Niro or Al Pacino's when people asked for acting tips. For suave diners hankering a good nosh of noods, it's like -- my editor's gonna give me a nasty stare for saying this -- tickle your itchy foot without taking off the boot. List is full of shops so famed, hyped and so out-there that readers may doubt someone is just channeling a fabulous feast with leftovers. "Chaxiubao, that's it?! I can get a way better one from any celebitchy magazine selling on newstands."
But wait, doing things by halves isn't the Chaxiubao way -- and so -- allow me the indulgence to present you all "the best noodles in Hong Kong you've never heard of" series to redeem my reputation. Dare me to say, this is the list to make you feel like six inches tall even if you think you know noodles-dining in Hong Kong like the back of your hand!
And here we go, first entry for Hong Kong's Next Top Noodles: Hoi Kee Roastie Specialist in Causeway Bay.
Food there is so good that I must forewarn you this: go to the place with a helmet on. Because, your head is gonna explode, so to speak.
Slurp slurp, bang bang. I'm not talking about cheesy Bollywoody explosions where the whole clan can still do a masala sing & dance amidst the thick of it. Think Terminator, Die Hard or Matrix. Vast explosion that drains out the very marrow in your bones.
The first explosion comes when you find out how tasty the curry lamb noodles is. Chubby, chewy noodles covered under the thick of curry lamb. At first glance, a reminiscence of the regretting toilets you come across in Mumbai, looks disgusting but smells alarming. But at length, as you wane the noodles, you'll realize what's the meaning of the concept "the way besets in feces," (or 道在糞中 in Chinese) as once said by a famed Patriarch of Zen Buddhism -- surprise, surprise, the highest enlightenment in life comes from the lowest beings. Curry lamb noodles, the spitting image for form is nothing! Idealism this!
Curry lamb noodles, the bowl where all the pursuits for the elusive perfect harmony end. Curry is as foreign as noodles is indigenous, Buddhism is as foreign as Confucius is indigenous (yes I'm tired typing this). Yet, they now cuddle in Hong Kong perfectly.
Your head explode for the second time when the pig's feet, chopped and serried in a plate without any frill gets to the front of you. Explosion ensued because you can't figure out why a food can look so discouragingly modest and tastes so illegally sweet. It is poached slowly and marinated in, briefly, the precious duck essence (they sell roast ducks too, remember?) before serving. It reminds you the one time you found out the church-going and frowsy and freckle-faced girl living next door is actually a nymphomaniac porn actress when night falls, driving you crazy with bed skills that outshines all the other women's you'd ever slept with.
[Editor note: I read from somewhere that pork trotters are getting popular in NYC & Tokyo of late because of it's "nutrition values" (collagen=food for your skin). The phenomenon vexed me a little bit because it sounds as ridiculous as asking a lingerie supermodel to do your calculus. Sorry folks, here in Hoi Kee, foot fetishism is enjoying a sound toehold, so to speak, solely because the feet tastes marvelous.]
Blizzard attack your head again when you find out, after screaming at the top of your voice, that the best food of a so-called roastie specialist has got nothing to do with roasties staple. Everyone come here, undone, for anything but roasties. It's not like they aren't any good. It's just that we don't like to read Keats with the ray of fireflies when there's a full moon rising, right?
The fourth, and the last explosion takes place when you find out, the toll for all this comes in less than HK$40, a humble price to pay for a slew of yummy chows that even the most poverty-stricken person from Tin Shui Wai cannot complain.
Shop: Hoi Kee Roastie Specialist 海記燒臘飯店
Location: Shop 3, Cooked Food Centre, Bowrington Road Market, 21 Bowrington Road, Causeway Bay
Opening hours: 11am - 7pm
Tel: 2574 4798
Michelin Hong Kong on the cheap rating: ***