Central noodle stall cooks up a storm on last day after operator and customers fail to save it Li Kin-kwan and his brother Kin-keung might have had the gods' blessings when the rain suddenly stopped as they opened their 80-year-old dai pai dong for the last time yesterday. But the pair could not get their mercy to survive the government's axe. And the closure of the Man Yuen stall had renowned food critic Lau Kin-wai, who has been patronising the stall for 10 years, criticising the government for killing food culture. 'When the government is spending billions of dollars building a culture district in West Kowloon, they are ignoring the local culture,' he said, enjoying his last meal there. 'The right way to treat the hygiene problem of dai pai dongs is reinforcing management, not killing them.' Noodle shop operator Mr Li said he could not help feeling sad about closing the shop for the last time when he ran out of food at 8pm - four hours earlier than usual. 'I have been working in this shop since I was 12. Forty years have passed and I have so many feelings for this place.' Customers from all corners of Hong Kong flocked to the tiny shop in Elgin Street, Central, for a last taste. Seven open-air tables were soon occupied after the shop opened at noon and patrons took pictures of noodles as keepsakes. College student Wong Chun-fai, 20, who lives in Tung Chung, arrived at 11.15am for his last meal. 'The stall is very special among the modern high buildings in Central. The government should keep this unique characteristic of Hong Kong instead of getting rid of it.' The government has been asking the shop to shut down since its licence-holder, Wong Kwong-hing, died on May 6. Under the law, only a spouse can inherit a fixed-pitch hawker licence. Wong never married, and his partners, the Li brothers, were unable to take it over. The shop has been prosecuted twice for operating without a licence and illegally occupying government land. Mr Li said normal revenue was $4,000 a day, but this jumped to $7,000 to $8,000 a day after people learned the shop's fate. 'The old customers keep returning. Some taxi drivers even have three meals a day here,' he said. 'Many celebrities flocked here before, like [actor] Chow Yun-fat. [Donald] Tsang Yam-kuen and his sister came a lot when they were living in the police headquarters.' Central and Western District councillor Kam Nai-wai said more than 6,000 signatures had been collected to try to keep the dai pai dong open. He will it to try to save the remaining 29 dai pai dong.