The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 4 February 2011

Noodles @ Lok Yuen Beef Ball King, Hong Kong

It's the second day of the Lunar Year of the Rabbit, and I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai (it means "wishing you prosperity" in Mandarin Chinese). Since noodles is traditionally a "lucky" food to eat during the New Year celebration period (for most, if not all, Asian cultures), I thought I would blog about our experience at a Hong Kong noodle shop with my dad when he was visiting us a few weeks ago. Noodle restaurants are ubiquitous on the HK street scene, offering hungry pedestrians a quick and cheap meal. Wander down any busy street and you're bound to come across one (or several) noodle shops. Lok Yuen Beef Ball King (樂園牛丸大王) was one of the many noodle shops we came across around lunch time while making our way from the Flower Market and the Bird Garden to the Ladies' Market (via the Goldfish Market) in Mong Kok. As the name suggests, this noodle shop specialises in beef ball noodles, and, unbeknownst to us at the time, apparently it is pretty famous in HK as it is said that Lok Yuen's beef and fish maw balls were the inspiration for Stephen Chow's movie The God of Cookery. I don't know how true that is, but it was good we had an early lunch because the place had filled up pretty quickly by the time we were finished.

It's a pretty simple noodle shop that looked clean enough (our main priority when dining out impromptu with a toddler), and the menu had English on it which made it easy for us to order. The staff didn't speak much English, so we were once again grateful for my dad's Cantonese-speaking ability. We could choose from different five types of noodles - egg noodle, thick egg noodle, hor fun (wide rice noodles), mai fun (rice vermicelli) and mai sin (rice spaghettini) - or no noodles at all (which would defeat the point of going to a noodleshop!). The food came out pretty quickly, which was great because we needed a quick meal (the slow food concept does not work with toddlers). My dad ordered the first item on the menu, the Beef balls noodle (with hor fun), which he said was "ok lah". Rob went for the fancy Four specialty noodle (with hor fun) which, at HK$30, was the most expensive item on the menu (which is still pretty cheap). It had beef balls, black-peppered beef balls, pork balls, fish balls, fish rolls, fish slice and another unidentified piece - more than four types anyway. This bowl gave a pretty good idea of which ones to go for next time if we find ourselves at Luk Yuen again. Rob quite enjoyed his bowl of noodles.

Four specialty noodles with beef, pork and fish done in several different styles:

I got the Fish dumplings noodle (with hand-kneaded fish noodles, additional HK$10), which came with five fish dumplings that were very tasty. The broth was a bit too salty for my liking, but I think a lot of the saltiness came from the fish noodles. The hand-hneaded fish noodle was delicious with fishy flavours, but there was too little of it! It would probably be a good idea to order double portion of the fish noodles. I liked the fish dumplings better than any of the protein in Rob's noodles.

Fish dumplings:

Hand-kneaded fish noodles:

Not a bad place to stop for a tasty quick bite.

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