This is one of many posts that are part of the series Jen's Guide - Best Places to Eat in Hong Kong for Visitors
Consult any "best wonton noodle soup" guide or list about Hong Kong and you're bound to find Mak's Noodle in there.
Mak's has a long history. Founder Mak Woon Chi (originally from Guangzhou, China) was very well-known for his wonton noodle soup. He was so well known, in fact, that he even served Chiang Kai-shek, the former president of the Republic of China. During World War II, Mak moved to Hong Kong and opened the first Mak's Noodle in Central. Two generations later, Mak's grandson-in-law, Tony, took the family business and grew it into multiple locations in multiple countries. The name Mak's Noodle is now a household name. The restaurant also has one Michelin Star.
We'd heard mixed things about Mak's. My local friend said it was overrated and overpriced compared to Tsim Chai Kee next door. Others thought it was one of the best wonton noodle places in Hong Kong. Bryan had tried it multiple times and thought it was pretty good, but it wasn't his favorite.
In October when my out of town friends were visiting, we went to Tsim Chai Kee and Mak's back to back. Yes, we wonton noodle - hopped!
In general, the wonton noodle soup at Mak's is very good. The noodles are very al dente (more al dente than the ones at Tsim Chai Kee), almost to the point of being "crunchy" but in a pleasant way. The soup was definitely more alkaline in taste, probably from the base they use in making the crunchy noodles.
Though a bowl doesn't cost that much ($40 HKD, around $5 USD), it's pretty small and definitely can't serve as a full meal for anyone. It's more like an appetizer soup with two medium-sized wontons. Bryan says he usually orders that plus another dish.
Because there are so many locations of Mak's around the city, the restaurant has lost a bit of that exclusive feeling. It's quite accessible, and I don't typically see lines at most of the Mak's Noodle locations.
In general, the wonton noodle soup is good and I enjoy it quite a bit.
Certain Mak's locations have a larger menu that includes other items aside from wonton noodle soup. The one at Ocean Terminal in Harbour City has congee, for example. I actually really, really enjoyed their congee. The classic pork and century egg congee had a deep and rich flavor. I could eat it forever. In fact, I may even prefer the congee over the wonton noodle soup.
All in all, I think Mak's makes a good wonton noodle soup if you like very al dente noodles, you don't mind the alkaline taste in the broth, and you prefer smaller portions. Personally, I prefer the noodle texture at Mak's and the broth flavor at Tsim Chai Kee (I found the broth at Mak's a bit too alkaline). I prefer the wontons at Mak's. I'm splitting hairs here, though. Honestly, both places are good.
It's true that Mak's is noticeably more expensive than Tsim Chai Kee, though at the end of the day, it's still not a very expensive restaurant ($5 USD for a noodle soup is not bad!!). Frankly speaking, it's still one of the cheapest Michelin starred meals you can get in Hong Kong. Still, if you like a great value and huge portions, then you will probably prefer Tsim Chai Kee.
Me personally, I could happily eat at both. I would stick to ordering the simple shrimp wonton noodle soup at both places (I didn't love the freshly made fishballs at Tsim Chai Kee), and maybe spring for a congee at Mak's Noodle if I were at a location that offered it.
Mak's Noodle (multiple locations)
Original location: G/F, 77 Wellington Street, Central