Thursday, August 20, 2015

The tomato broth noodles at Sing Heung Yuen are worth waiting for!

It may not look like much but Sing Heung Yuen's
a much loved local eatery 

I love this concoction so much that I drink every drop of the legendary
tomato broth as well as eat all the noodles and vegetables doused in it!

Years ago, while waiting to get into Kau Kee to partake of a bowl of its famous beef brisket noodle soup, I noticed that an even longer queue had formed for what looked to be a super popular dai pai dong located on the other side of the street.  While I was curious to know what goodies all those people were so patiently waiting to sample, I also felt rather intimidated by the prospect of having to wait for at least half an hour, probably even more, to eat at a place that was on the spartan side -- and where, I could imagine, one would be discouraged from lingering at.  

Consequently, I have to admit that not having made it a major priority to find out more about the place.  At the same time though, it obviously left quite an impression on me since I recognized it when watching the Hong Kong episode of The Layover as where two Hong Kongers took Anthony Bourdain to try what they described as "Hong Kong comfort food" as well as "soy sauce Western", and the American decided "doesn't look remotely Chinese".

At Sing Heung Yuen, Bourdain tried some of its signature crispy buns topped with lemon marmalade and shared a bowl of its tomato broth soup with elbow macaroni, fried eggs and luncheon meat (what Americans better know as spam) with his two local friends.  If truth be told, he didn't seem all that enamored by what he ate there (which makes this dai pai dong a rare Hong Kong eatery that Bourdain isn't an enthusiastic fan of).  Still, I am grateful to him for letting me know the name of the place and also what its specialties are.

Earlier this year, I finally had the good fortune to pass by Sing Heung Yuen when empty seats could be seen at its tables.  In a flash, I secured one of those seats -- and was also happy to discover that this no frills eatery has a bi-lingual (i.e., English as well as Chinese language) menu!  Rather than completely copy what Anthony Bourdain and co's choices, I went for a bowl of instant noodles and vegetables in the surprisingly hearty as well as super tasty tomato broth.  Add a glass of delicious iced lemon tea and the total damage to my wallet's just HK$39 (~US$5), which makes my lunch an incredible bargain in Hong Kong, particularly as Sing Heung Yuen's right in Central

Over in Penang, local foodies talk about their love for eating at places which are C&G (i.e., cheap and good).  Sing Heung Yuen is an eatery which falls into this category for me.  Even rarer in Hong Kong, it's also cheap and cheerful -- in that the people manning this dai pai dong, whose license dates back to 1953, are actually pretty cordial, if not downright friendly. 

Almost needless to say, I've been back more than once since to Sing Heung Yuen.  And while I realize that I should try some other dish or variation of the tomato broth noodle concoction at some point, the memories of how so very right the heartwarming combination of springy instant noodles, homey vegetables and thick tomato broth are keep on prompting me to re-order it each time that I'm there!

And yes, like with the trams, this is the kind of place that I strongly feel should be preserved and even encouraged to proliferate.  But, again, this is precisely the kind of very Hong Kong institution that's come under official threat -- with just 24 dai pai dong left, at last count... :S


Bill said...


I've seen the Bourdain Layover episode you refer to. One reason for the success of his travel-food shows is because of the local people who show him around.

The top photo of the Dai Pai Dong is what I love about surviving parts of Hong Kong because it is so informal, almost like a village scene contained within a metropolis. Long live Dai Pai Dongs and the trams!"


YTSL said...

Hi Bill --

I agree that Anthony Bourdain (and his team) seems very good at getting knowledgeable local people to show him around -- though in the case of that episode of The Layover, I was not particularly impressed by the expats he hung out with at Racks. Having said that, folks like them definitely are part of the Hong Kong landscape -- and some people might find them interesting, even if only from afar! ;)

And I second your cry of "Long live dai pai dongs and the trams!" :)