Kau Kee has been serving beef brisket noodles on Gough Street for over 90 years. I’d be lying if I said I’ve been meaning to go for that long, as that wouldn’t even be possible, but I was long overdue a visit that had been put off for one reason or another for a good 12 months.
After another near-cancelation due to a nasty chest infection, I realised there could be no better cure than a hearty bowl of soup noodles (other than Mummy’s chicken soup of course).
Despite the hour-long queues at lunchtime that stretch the length of Gough Street, we were seated for dinner almost immediately.
As in most of Hong Kong’s noodle shops, at Kau Kee diners are seated alongside other diners, where they slurp their noodles up (literally) within 15 minutes to make room for the next batch of people. With plastic tables and chairs and a floor you wouldn’t dream of putting your bag down on, there is nothing fancy in the slightest about this place.
Although the menu looks long, really it is broken down into three options: beef brisket noodles in soup, curry beef tendon noodles in soup, or dry noodles with oyster sauce, each with the choice of vermicelli, e-fu, flat or rice noodles and of course the option of adding a side dish of Chinese veggies to inject a little goodness to the meal.
We first shared the curry beef tendon with e-fu noodles in soup and I was instantly blown away. Beef tendon on paper may sound a little difficult to digest, but having been braised for hours, it was incredibly tender so that even the gelatinous bits of gristle melted beautifully in the mouth. The soup base had a comforting spicy kick that definitely tried its best to chase my chest infection away.
The beef brisket noodles (with flat noodles after our initial choice of rice noodles were sold out) were different to those of other noodle shops in that the broth was clear as opposed to a rich brown colour. Don’t take the colour to mean that it isn’t potently beefy however; the broth, laden with beef brisket, is left to simmer for hours, leaving a complex, aromatic soup base permeated by the rich flavours of the beef. The noodles added a definite egg-like flavour similar to what you get from wanton noodle soup.
The very simple vegetables were nothing particularly special, but they needed to be ordered to make us feel slightly less unhealthy.
The total bill for two bowls of noodles, two drinks and some veggies came to $117; expensive Hong Kong restaurants need to take a leaf out of Kau Kee’s book! I wouldn’t argue against Kau Kee serving some of the best beef brisket noodles in town, yet I think I would still choose the curry beef tendon noodles; never before have I enjoyed eating tendon quite so much…
G/F, 21 Gough Street