Friday, November 20, 2009

Wah Lam Noodle Restaurant 華南粉麵茶餐廳



Wan Chai to me is like the Kowloon City of the Hong Kong Island, full of various cuisines and local food establishments. There are many hidden gems in this neighborhood and all you have to do is to explore in the name of good food! Wah Lam Noodle Restaurant 華南粉麵茶餐廳 has been in the neighborhood for while and it is well known for this Fish Balls, Beef Brisket & Beef Entails. Don't expect comfortable seats or great decor because you will find none of the above. What you will find is a homely and down-to-earth environment with a neighborhood joint atmosphere that can be as comforting as an upscale establishment depending on the occasion and your mood at the time. If you are lucky enough you may find one of two diners with one of their legs up on the stool!



I was here on a weeknight, late weeknight to be more exact. After a few drinks over happy hour, all I wanted was something quick and comforting. A warm bowl of noodles would be nice! Not in the mood to think, I pointed to an item with the word Beef Brisket in it. Apparently I ordered flat rice noodle with Beef Brisket, Fish Balls and Beef Balls plus a dish of lettuce and a bottle of coke.



It was as comforting as I expected with a rich and intense soup base. The rice noodle was smooth and slightly chewy as well. Alright, plenty of MSG but a regular dose of MSG would not be that harmful right? The Beef Brisket was very tender and the flavor was as tense and rich as the soup. Thumbs up! The Beef Balls on the other hand was rather ordinary, chewy but no surprises. As for Fish Balls, well not exactly ball because the shape was irregular and more like square I guess, was soft and bouncy. It is rather hard to describe the texture because in Chinese I would use the adjective but the direct translation to English is "refreshing" which cannot accurately capture the essence of the texture. O yes, and the portion was rather generous as well!



One thing I like to mention is their service. You might not expect much service from such local establishment but there are exceptions. (perhaps I was lucky?) One of the staff politely warned me about how I placed my camera on top of an open stool and suggested me to move it somewhere safer. Thank you indeed!

Likes:
  • Soup Base - rich and intense, very comforting
  • Beef Brisket - tender and beefy with intense flavors like the soup base
  • Fish Balls - soft and "bouncy" (aka 爽 in Chinese)
Dislikes:
  • Quite heavy on MSG.... MSG makes me sleepyyyyyy
  • Quite noisy
Avg Spending: Below HKD 100 per person

Wah Lam Noodle Restaurant 華南粉麵茶餐廳
G/F & 1/F, 5-11 Thomson Rd, Wan Chai
Tel: 852 2527 2478


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16 comments:

Mochachocolata Rita said...

one bowl of beef stomach hor fun with crispy fish skin plzzz

Jason said...

@Rita: o I forgot to order the crispy fish skin .... ummmm ... I am getting hungry already!

sophia said...

You may be surprised to learn that the owner is often the chef. Apparently he owns the premise and has quite a temper. He takes great pride in the preparation of the beef brisket. He works hard himself and works his staff hard as well. May be that is why the service is excellent each time I visit. I like the beef brisket and the golden tripes the best. At times, I want to tell him to go light on the MSG but remembering what a temper the owner has, I let it go.

Jin said...

msg or no msg, that's a great shot, jason! i can almost taste the soup and the fish balls!

KK said...

Over 20 years ago I used to go to a noodles rice plate place similar to this, also in Wanchai, but memory escapes me. It does face the tram track though. I wish I remember the name because I always got beef tendon ho fun soup there and it hit the spot.

爽 sounds like "QQ", a Taiwanese term referring to toothy bouncy textures. Used to describe noodles, squid and squid sashimi, tapioca (bor ba) etc.

Jason said...

@Sophia: Sometimes having a chef with such a temper is what so special about such establishments. It is quite a charm at times in my opinion. It reminds me of Tai Ping Koon and 蓮園粥粉麵 Lotus Garden at Happy Valley :) ... I think I will try my luck next time and ask him to go light on the MSG ...

Jason said...

@Jin: thanks!! I once heard coke can counter the effect of MSG, but so far not helping me from falling asleep ... lol

Jason said...

@KK: I have been in search for a simple word to describe 爽 in English but no luck of course. It is through this research process that I realize it is quite hard to describe certain things in English especially in relation to food. For example, sometimes the texture of food is ... mushy (instead of being soft), but mushy does not seem to be a very elegant word. I have much to learn on how to write more vividly with the correct use of words in describing great food. :)

cheeky angel said...

I don't think there is an exact word in English for 爽 as far as I know. I remember my mum used to say it to describe certain food items and I had to learn its meaning through association of the word 爽 with the texture of certain food items. I think in English, we would use a different adjective according to the food item. For example, "refreshing" would work for some cold drinks, "crunchy" for water chestnuts. As for describing fishballs, perhaps it has a certain "bite" to it (but of course not in the sense of al dente for pasta)?

Jason said...

@cheeky angel: yes indeed! I think the use of the English language in describing food constitutes a language on its own and I have much to learn! Describing the texture of fish balls to have a certain "bite" to it is far better than the word I have in mind: "bouncy." HAHA

Greentea00 said...

i wana get a hot bowl of beef brisket and cuttlefish ho fan now.....with lots n lots of parsley and green onions..and a Btl of cream soda! ...yummmy soul food..

Jason said...

@Greentea00: yes yes, I love those parsley, more the merrier :)

cheeky angel said...

Waaah, you guys are so posh to get parsley with your bowls of beef brisket/ fishballs ;p I normally have to settle for coriander (cilantro in the US) with mine. However, unlike quite a few people I know, I actually like chopped coriander in mine as long as they go easy on the chopped spring onions for me.

Jason said...

@cheeky angel: I don't mind parsley or coriander, either one would make me very happy! I prefer the above-mentioned than chopped spring onion as well. What I do like is for them to go light on the MSG ... whenever possible :)

Bobmar said...

You can always ask to skip the beef sauce. In Chinese, it's 'chau lam jup'. Sorry, I can't type Chinese, yet. I've been going there for over 15 years. The place was old 15 years ago. I've watched the lady go from big to bigger, and then slim down a bit. But her eyes still point in different directions. Yes, the owner and his wife both have extremely loud voices, but they are nice people. They just understand the meaning of 'being firm' with people. And if you can't hack it, stay out of the kitchen. We have a different name for this place. We call it "Fat Lady's". It's secretly my all-time favorite - you can't get a better cut of beef, or the richness in the broth, compounded with the perfect texture of the hor fun. Loads of hot sauce and vinegar, then soak the fish skins. Everytime. I take all my visiting friends and colleagues there - leave the vegetarians to fend for themselves, while everybody that comes along walks away with a story to tell about this place.

Jason said...

@Bobmar, I think it is the firm attitudes towards guests that give this place the special charm and what makes me return once in a while. Now I want to head for soon for another bowl of those "hor fan"!

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