Diner’s Diary

Hong Kong noodle shop to shut after 68 years – we have a final bowl of its famous egg noodles

Though its egg noodles made using a bamboo pole are known throughout Hong Kong, Wing Wah Noodle Shop in Wan Chai will shut its doors at the end of August after 68 years in business. But why exactly is it closing down?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 6:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 29 June, 2018, 7:26pm

After 68 years, Hong Kong restaurant Wing Wah in Wan Chai, best known for its egg noodles made using a bamboo pole, will shut its doors at the end of August.

The shop has already advertised its impending demise by covering its banner with Chinese characters saying “closing down”. As a result, when we recently visited the shop at 2pm on a weekday, there was still a large line outside the small restaurant.

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It took us almost 15 minutes to get a table – the place was packed with diners getting their last servings of noodles. The staff were so busy they didn’t even have time to replenish the small covered glass bowls of pickled vegetables for which the restaurant is also known.

The menus are still shown under the sheets of glass that cover the table tops, and items are still reasonably priced. A bowl of shrimp wonton noodles is HK$44, while noodles with braised beef tendon and brisket is HK$48. A chef’s special bamboo mushroom with shrimp roe is HK$90 for a small portion, HK$180 for a large one.

Several minutes after we put in our order, our dishes start to arrive one by one. The egg noodles topped with shrimp roe and served with oyster sauce (HK$80) are fantastic. The noodles have a bite to them, springy and slightly al dente. The sprinkling of shrimp roe adds a delicate texture.

By the time we dug into the wonton noodles (HK$44), the noodles weren’t as springy – but they still tasted good, and didn’t have the strong alkaline taste usually found at Mak’s Noodles, another famous noodle shop nearby. The wontons were quite small, with the pork and shrimp minced together.

Another signature dish is the braised pork knuckle (HK$70 for a small portion, HK$130 for large). This dish is ideal for those who like to gnaw on bones. There was also ample cartilage, and the dish had been braised so long that the fattiness underneath the skin was gone.

The least impressive dish was the Chinese kale in soup that also had a sprinkling of shrimp roe. The kale had a dark chartreuse colour that wasn’t very appetising, perhaps from being pre-cooked earlier.

Manning the first table by the cashier was Tse Sau-hung, who is the third-generation owner of Wing Wah. She nibbled on bread and received takeaway orders on her phone, and at times managed the cashier. When customers asked why she was closing the shop, she said the landlord was redeveloping the building.

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However, Chinese-language media have reported that Tse is retiring, and that business at the noodle shop dropped significantly after some 5,000 civil servants who worked at the nearby Inland Revenue and Immigration departments were relocated.

Wing Wah will be open until August 31.

Wing Wah Noodle Shop, 89 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai. Tel: 2527 7476

Additional reporting by Rachel Cheung