劉森記蝦子麵 Shrimp Roe Noodles @ Hong Kong
劉森記麵家 Lau Sum Kee Noodle Shop is an old icon of Sham Shui Po Hong Kong, an area which is well-known as a wholesale centre for clothing and apparel. Throughout the years of annual visits to Hong Kong, it has become a favorite which we visit for a quick fix whenever we are in the area. Wantan dumpling noodle shops are found all over Hong Kong in practically every street corner but what distinguishes Lam Sum Kee from the other joints is the liberal sprinkling of shrimp roe on the noodles. And this is only one of the things which sets them apart from the other run-in-the-mill shops.
A weekday afternoon and yet the small shop is packed with diners. As with many local-catered eateries like cha chan teng and dai pai dong, be prepared to share tables with others. Thankfully, folks in Hong Kong are never known to suddenly chat up with people from the same table. Most would treat other fellow diners in oblivion, each minding their own business with eyes glued only onto the bowl of noodles in front of them.
The walls are very well decorated with newspaper and magazine features on the shop and their noodles, accolades which Lam Sam Kee has garnered throughout the years, some of which have already yellowed and faded with age.
There is even an article providing a step-by-step guide to how noodles are cooked here. Seems simple enough, but I’m sure it requires a lot of practice to get the noodles to the right consistency.
Not to mention photographs with famous people and celebrites who’d patronised the shop. Here’s the lady boss with Amanda Strang of Petite Amanda.
A peek into the kitchen to how the noodles are being prepared…constantly boiling pot of water for blanching the noodles and vegetables, basket of yellow chives for soup and containers of condiments and seasoning, which are incidentally kept very simple.
A whole container of the much coveted shrimp roe which had been “specially processed” as we were told. But the assistant was very tight lipped when asked on the “hows and whats” of the details…
As always the portions are generous compared to some of the other “reputable” wantan mee shops which we’d visited. We usually order the 捞面 “lou meen” dried version over the soup ones which the locals prefer. Firstly, I guess it is a matter of habit as wantan mee back in Singapore are almost always eaten dried with a hoard of seasoning and condiments added. Secondly, the weather was scotching hot and eating noodles with hot soup would be suicidal.
My favorite has always been the beef brisket version while J’s has always been been with wantan shrimp dumplings. The beef brisket was perfectly braised in chee hou sauce, my favorite way of cooking beef brisket. Beef tendon was wobbly soft with a gelatinous texture. Noodles are incredibly springy and very slightly undercooked. This is apparently how wantan noodles should be. Not unlike the italian pasta notion of al dente.
In a visit 2 years back, we’d also ordered 郊外油菜 poached vegetables with oyster sauce. Nothing much to shout about here really… so we’d decidedly skipped this in our future trips to save our stomach for other food to come on our gastronomic journey!
南乳猪手 Pig trotters braised in “nam ee” fermented beancurd. A dish which I’d ordered once before and it was very very good. In fact, it was so good that I’d finished it all by myself! Wonderfully braised for all that collagen packed knuckle joints and pork skin. Too bad I’d already had a “date” with two other famous wantan mee joints this year to try out their pig trotter noodles. Or else, this would definitely be a staple which I would order everytime I’m here!
Despite being their signature, noodles can also come without the sprinkling of shrimp roe. In fact, this would bear true testament to exactly how good their braised beef brisket is, without the interference from the shrimp roe. That said, the shrimp roe really provides a wonderful umami dimension to everything it dons. I can imagine it to work very well with fried rice…
And this was J’s wantan mee without shrimp roe two years back. Oyster sauce is added instead and this time round but way too much! We had to scoop away most of it to prevent ourselves from sodium overload!
But the shrimp wrapped wantan dumplings are very good. The wantan skins could barely contain the minced meat filling which was packed with so much shrimp. Not as boisterous looking as those which we’d had at 沾仔記 Zim Zai Kee but nonetheless very good. If I’m not wrong, dried and toasted plaice powder was added into the filling for the additional savory and umami flavours, not unlike the magic the shrimp roe performs on the noodles.
One of those things that keep people coming and a definite must-try in the shop. Pickled white radish and chillies to keep the diners occupied whilst waiting for their orders to be served. Every table has a large glass bottle of this. The crunchy and vinegary cubes prepare one’s stomach for the meal to come by first awakening the salivary and gastric glands. What a way to induce a heartier appetite! Incredibly refreshing, it also helps to work against any sense of heft or oiliness from either the braised beef brisket or braised pig trotters. Since it is practically cholesterol-free, so eat away!
Mind you, this is essentially a non-tourist location. Diners are practically all locals so it pays to speak some Cantonese. Interestingly, they have some workers from the Mainland though who would break out in syllabic Mandarin words amidst not very fluent Cantonese…curious indeed.
劉森記麵家 Lau Sum Kee Noodle
星期一至日: 12:00 – 01:00
48,Kwai Lam Street, Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong
Daily 12 pm to 1 am