There are only a handful of places left in Hong Kong that still make noodles using the very traditional art of using a bamboo stick. These bamboo noodles (竹昇麵 or jook-sing noodles) are made with a dough that is painstakingly flattened with a bamboo pole. Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle in Cheung Sha Wan is one of them.
It takes many many different "rounds" of pressing to get the bamboo noodle dough thin enough. Overall, it can take up to two hours to get the dough ready just to make 100 portions. It's a slow, laborious process, which is why it's quickly fading. Definitely check out the video below which shows the bamboo pole action!
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Noodle making demonstrations at the window occur only three times a week during a very narrow window of time: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1PM to 1:30PM.
The focus is clearly on the special noodles. The whole restaurant basically serves variations on three main noodle themes: noodle soup, dry noodles, or deep fried noodles. Thankfully there is an English language menu. Just make sure to ask for it!
Soup is one of the most classic ways to go, and Kwan Kee does a good job. There are all different types of fish balls, shrimps balls, beef balls, as well as wontons (delicious!) and other toppings.
I really enjoy the simple wonton noodle soup, which is about as classic as it gets. I like how their noodles don't have that characteristic alkaline flavor that you get at places like Mak's Noodle. Usually the alkaline additive helps give wonton noodles their characteristic texture, but here, the special bamboo method provides that.
If you really want to enjoy the al dente texture of the bamboo noodles, then I would recommend ordering a dry-tossed noodle. You have your choice of meats to accompany the noodles. Picture above: pork knuckle and shrimp roe dry tossed bamboo noodle.
Finally, the craziest version is the fried "chao" bamboo noodles with seafood. You won't believe this, but even the individual sized portion is HUGE! This version is fun to eat and impressive to look at, but honestly I think it showcased the noodle's unique texture the least. Once it's fried, it's just crunchy. You don't really appreciate the "Q" al dente texture anymore.
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So, it's fun to order if you are eating with a group since it's fun to try. However, if you are there alone, get one of the other two bamboo noodle dishes.
The vegetable offerings are far from exciting. Basically, you can choose between several different types of fresh vegetables, and they'll blanch it for you and serve it with oyster sauce (you can request "on the side" if you want). It was my first time eating Chinese chives that way. It wasn't bad, but it definitely is not the strength of the restaurant!
A good gift! You can buy their shrimp roe in jars or their noodles (dried and packaged as a gift)!
All in all, it's worth the trip to Cheung Sha Wan to get a glimpse of this very traditional style noodle, or at least to see and experience one of the few remaining bamboo noodle shops in Hong Kong. Supposedly there are still some in Guangzhou as well, though the same thing is happening there where the younger generation is not continuing to learn the same craft.
So come enjoy it while you can. Someday, we may really not be able to try a truly handmade version anymore.
This is the fourth post in the updated #50Postsin50Days - Take 2 Challenge. Other posts in this series will be added to the bottom of the original post.
Kwan Kee Bamboo Noodle
1 Wing Lung St, Cheung Sha Wan
4-minute walk from Exit C of Cheung Sha Wan Station