Thursday, August 5, 2010

HK: Wellington Street - Lin Heung Teahouse and Mak's Noodles

I walked down this alley and voila, there's Lin Heung!
After my Sun Tung Lok dim sum breakfast, Gingko House Western lunch and Kau Kee post-lunch bowl of curry beef brisket, I was walking on my own randomly exploring the vicinity. Actually, trying to walk off some of the calories too, when I passed by this huge wall sign that you simply couldn't miss. Hey! Lin Heung Teahouse! Am I at Wellington Street already?

Lin Heung Teahouse at Wellington Street
Indeed I am! Oh I was very glad to see this old school yumcha teahouse. Lin Heung (160-164 Wellington Street; Tel: +852 2544-2556) has been around for some 80 years. But it was such a pity that I was way too full to eat any more immediately.

Busy yumcha atmosphere inside Lin Heung (upstairs)
Well, no harm taking a look at least. I ventured upstairs to the airconditioned hall. It's brightly lit and reasonably clean (well, cleaner than I expected). Families were chattering at runaway speed in Cantonese, amidst the constant clink of porcelain. Steaming baskets of dim sum were shuttled briskly to the tables, their aroma filling the air once the lids were lifted. Cups of Chinese tea dotted the crowded tables. I loved the bustling atmosphere! There was not a single seat free, even if I had wanted to eat.

It's more than dim sum at Lin Heung
Lin Heung is not just about dim sum. They have popular dishes for dinner too. If I have the chance to come back, I would love to try some of these too.

Stairway leads up to airconditioned dining hall, and down to takeaway pastries
I love the dark wood stairs and banisters. At the bottom of the stairway near the entrance is the takeaway pastries section.

Super old school pastries
Lin Heung has a bakery that does traditional Chinese biscuits and pastries. They also started putting out mooncakes already.

Traditional Chinese pastries from Lin Heung Teahouse
I was determined to take away a little piece of Lin Heung with me, so I bought some of the pastries to take back to the hotel. The old-fashioned packaging is so quaint and lovely.

Flaky pastry with salted egg in lotus paste
Flaky pastry with salted egg in lotus paste. The flaky skin is more papery than oily. Very dense lotus paste too. The taste is quite rustic and traditional indeed.

Pastry with century egg in mixed nutty paste
This is the first time I've tried a sweetish pastry with a whole century egg embedded within! Gotta say it's an acquired taste.

Easy to see where Bladerunner got its inspiration from
But back to Wellington Street. I continued my way, taking in the sights. This area is like quintessential old Hong Kong. This side alley may not be a prime example, but it's not difficult to see how Ridley Scott drew some of his inspiration for Blade Runner.

Shops crammed with goods
And then we have the commercialisation that's everywhere. There are lots of shops here selling anything and everything. They are often crammed to the brim with goods, some of it even spilling out onto the pavement, mixing with abandoned cartons.

Talk about a "no signboard" eatery!
There are also all kinds of eateries here. Look at this one, a single table in a dark shop underneath tungsten lights and the dilapitated carcass of a signboard. I was just wondering if the upper level is abandoned, when I caught the words near the staircase that say there's more seating and air-conditioning upstairs.

The building in which Mak's Noodles is housed - rather gaudy, no?
I finally reach what I've been looking for. This is the building in which Mak's Noodles is housed. Had not figured it'd be this gaudy.

Mak's Noodles - Anthony Bourdain was here!
But there it is - Mak's Noodles, right on the ground floor. This legendary place needs no introduction. Even Anthony Bourdain came here. But oddly, it seemed rather empty.

Tsim Chai Kee opposite Mak's seems to have more business
And right opposite, is a rival selling pretty much the same stuff - wantan noodles, apparently at twice the size and half the price. Tsim Chai Kee had a lot more people in it.

But I chose Mak's anyway. Every other shop else can come later.

Something magical in that steamy kitchen
I gingerly made my way in, and was immediately served tea. I watched the cook in the steamy kitchen, the place where all the magic happens.

These guys are super adept at making wantans - just 2 seconds per wantan!
I also watched the two gentlemen at the back of the shop, rolling wantans with practised ease. They didn't take more than two seconds to neatly parcel pork mince and prawn into the skin and fold it.

The infamously small bowl - Mak's Noodles
And soon, my bowl of the signature wantan noodle soup (HK$28) arrived. Mak's is known for its "stingy" portions - notice size of spoon in relation to bowl? That's how small the bowl is. That's why I could still eat this after having had 3 meals.

The small bowl is meant to keep the noodles from going soggy, but that's debatable.

Mak's famous wantan noodles
I dug up the wantans from the bottom. I have to say the soup smelled great, and tasted so. Made using powdered dried flounder, dried shrimp roe and pork bones, it was pungently umami and almost perfect. The wantans were excellent - incredibly fresh shrimp and flavourful seasoning.

However, the noodles were less QQ than I had hoped. Maybe I had left them soaking in the hot soup for too long while I admired the dish and took photos. But I checked the timestamp on the photos - it was less than 4 minutes from first photo to last. Still, it must have softened somewhat. I should have had another bowl - no photography allowed.

The famous Yung Kee at Wellington Street
So I left Mak's slightly underwhelmed but still happy I got to try it. Further down the road was Yung Kee. Been there, done that 10 years ago. Nice but I'm not a big fan of goose.

So ended my short walk on Wellington Street. Enough food for the day, right? Hahaha. Not quite. I hadn't had dessert!

Next up, I meet a couple of old pals who bring me to where the locals go for Hong Kong desserts. Stay tuned.

P.S. This post is also replicated at My Hong Kong Travel Blog 我的香港之旅, where all ten bloggers record their unique perspective of the trip. There's a contest (soon) where you can vote for your favourite blogger and win a trip to Hong Kong as well!


  1. Great post, I love HK's wantan mee.
    I did not manage to try Mak's for they were closed at night, when we went. Ended up at TCK, and the plump, juicy prawn wantons were fabulous. Almost irresistible! Cheaper than Mak's, yes. But the portion's not much difference.
    Oh, and I did notice that most places in HK did not serve greens! Hence had to order an extra portion of greens with a pungent sauce. Not bad though.

  2. I tried both stalls and trust me Tsim Chai Kee's portion is much bigger. But you get more satisfaction out of Mak's

  3. QQ wontan noodles is something the average American Chinese dive hasn't learned to do well (actually, many can't even do a mediocre job... it's an insult to how wontan mee should be done, IMHO). So your photos made me drool and think of home... I'm missing the little dish of pickled green chillies in light soy sauce in the photos. Guess that isn't done in HK?

  4. The noodle house opposite Mak's is waaay better in my humble opinion! We tried both, gluttons that we are. On different days so that our stomachs could be properly empty to savour the dishes.

    When you are in HK next time, try TCK's noodles but add the fishballs. Very, very homemade and you can tell that lots of fish meat has gone into it and not lots of flour.

  5. I also tried TCK but not Mak's, due to time constraint!

    What a pity you don't fancy roast goose! I can't seem to get enough of it!

  6. Lin Heung was classic. To me it's a real dim sum teahouse. Have to be there to enjoy the atmosphere.

  7. I lived in HK in the late 90's so it's great to read your blog and reminisce about Tsim Chai Kee vs. Mak wonton noodles. I've eaten at Mak's twice and had diarrheas after both meals - not fun experiences. I love Tsim Chai Kee's all shrimp, ping-pong sized wontons - very flavorful. Sprinkle them with their famous chili oil and the combined flavors are really great.

  8. The perennial debate of Mak's vs. Tsim Chai Kee continues, and there are strong proponents for both. I myself am a Mak's fan, having been introduced to it when I arrived in HK 15 years ago. I have subsequently tried TCK - twice - and still prefer Mak's. Yes, it is much more expensive, especially when you compare the portions... but I've always been willing to shell out $$ for food! And the good thing is that seats at Mak's are easier to come by thanks to the high price!

  9. Oh gosh!

    Hong Kong cantonese dim sums, noodles and pastries...
    I can't wait to set this as my next travel destination!

  10. Thanks for all the detailed comments and opinions. This was an intense learning trip for me, getting re-acquainted with Hong Kong, the roads and eateries. The four days were really too short! I want to go again!

  11. 4 minutes from the first to the last photo!? u sure are a perfectionist, i am sure i dont take 4 minutes haha.

  12. Ah Joe: Perhaps I wanted to prolong that moment.

    Those 4 mins include the time admiring the noodles, deep-breathing in the wonderful aroma, my sheer inane reluctance to ruin the marvellous bowl of noodles and finally examining the contents below. For me, wantan mee appreciation is not unlike ramen appreciation. For a good bowl, especially my very first one of hallowed repute, I take my time before tucking in.

    Doesn't help that I also don't take too well to piping hot soups. Several times I have scalded my tongue and thereafter not been able to taste my food properly. *shrug*

  13. Ahhh I LURVE Mak's noodles!!! I just told my husband two days ago that I wanted to go back to HK just to eat egg tarts and wanton noodles, and I was thinking of Mak's!

  14. I Love those moon cakes my bf is western he cant understand why they are so yummy

  15. I will try to come to singapore sometime. I got to taste your food.

  16. Thanks for all the abundant comments and opinions. This was an acute acquirements cruise for me, accepting re-acquainted with Hong Kong, the anchorage and eateries. The four canicule were absolutely too short! I demand to go again!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© CAMEMBERU | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Crafted by pipdig