Best beef brisket noodles in Hong Kong: Kau Kee

29 Jan

kau kee noodlesRight, we’ve slurped our way through the best ramen in town and chomped down the tastiest wantan mee Hong Kong has to offer. Now it’s time to hit the motherload. The final part of this culinary triptych: beef brisket noodles.

I have to admit to having lived nearly two years in Hong Kong without trying beef brisket noodles, which is tantamount to treason here. I’ve tried beef noodle dishes in the past in Taiwan and found them to be too sweet, woefully lacking in punch and, obviously, the porky hit that makes ramen so moreish. But done well these little babies can hold their own against all-comers in the soup-noodle world. Classic beef brisket noods don’t have thekau kee complex aromatic broth of that other famous beef soup dish, Vietnamese pho, which makes the quality of the beef and the noodles all the more important. But done right it’s a thing of beauty. A heartwarming blend of meltingly soft beef belly, refreshing, delicately scented soup and springy noodles.

I’m afraid any of you looking for some little out-of-the way undiscovered noodle shack previously hidden from Google’s prying search spiders and the evil clutches of CNNGo reporters are likely to be disappointed. Sister Wah (Wah Jeh) and Sang Kee are both close seconds, but my top tip is, surprise surprise Kau Kee on Gough Street.

This place has been in business for nearly a century and I’ve never walked past without noticing a queue of eager punters waiting outside. Luckily service is brusque and diners get in, slurp down and get out pretty quickly. The menu is quite long but basically boils down to two options, do you want beef brisket in clear soup or beef tendon (a slightly fattier cut) in curry soup? Each comes with either rice noodles, vermicelli-style noodles, flat noodles or e-fu noodles, which are about the shape of tagliatelle.

kau kee noodles

We got curry with flat noodles and beef brisket clear soup with e-fu in the end. Stunning. Soft beef, gently aromatic soup and al dente e-fu noodles in the one bowl and powerful curry-flavoured beef with softer and thinner noodles in the other. On balance I think the original clear soup and springy e-fu is my favourite. Beef, soup, noodles, and a scattering of spring onions. Simples.

You can get in an out for around HK$40 a head too. If you can avoid the lunch and evening queues, I’d recommend you go this very minute before the place gets priced out of the area like every other central Hong Kong eatery. Whatever you do don’t put it off for two years like an idiot.

Kau Kee; 21 Gough Street, Central, HK
(+852) 2850 5967

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