Tag Archives: hide chan

The best ramen in Hong Kong: hot noodle-on-noodle action

28 Nov

noodles hide chantSecond up in my Noodle-on-noodles odyssey is ramen. Arguably one of Japan’s greatest gastro-cultural exports, ramen is actually a kind of Japanese-Chinese hybrid. It typically features the wheat noodles and roast pork (cha-siu) popular in the Middle Kingdom, with that added Japanese obsessional eye for detail which helps create rich, flavour-packed soup stocks.

Being as ramen is borrowed a bit from Chinese noodle dishes it seems highly appropriate that Hong Kong-ers have taken to it in their droves. However, while in Japan there are very distinct varieties – miso (popular in Hokkaido), shoyu (a good Kanto staple), salt (a lighter broth), and tonkotsu (rich pork broth base from Kyushu) – in the SAR, tonkotsu is the clear winner. Which is fine for me, cos it’s my favourite.ramen menu

There are several above average ramen-ya in Hong Kong, in fact, the locals are spoiled for choice here. However, there are several no-nos as well. In a tonkotsu joint I want proper, thin Hakata-style noodles, I want to be able to choose my done-ness of noodle, and I want lots of choice when it comes to extra toppings – everything from more pork to soft boiled eggs and seaweed, if you please.

Unfortunately I’ve had many a poor bowl of noods in Hongkers, but am happy to say that a few places are upholding the fine tonkotsu ramen tradition with honour. Butao ramen – that hole-in-the-wall joint near LKF – has moved to Wellington Street but the place seems no bigger, still pulling in huge queues. They have a nice take on tonkotsu with squid ink, and a great almost milky stock, but any ramen-ya proprietor that serves a east-meets-west “green” version deserves to be shot.

Ippudo’s not bad either – a decades old chain from Hakata, the home of tonkotsu ramen, which now has a several outposts in Hongkers. Three things put me off about this place though. The ramen were perfectly fine but there was no choice over how well cooked I wanted them; the whole place stank of fresh paint (this is the Central branch); and the menu is just too big, featuring everything from burgers to onsen tamago. Stick to the ramen guys … and stop painting.

noodles hide chant

A steaming bowl of Red Hide

No, I’ve tried the rest and keep on coming back to my favourite: Hide Chan on Wellington St. It’s never busy for some reason, despite being in the Michelin Guide, but it should be. Eating a bowl of their White Hide ramen is like tucking into a roast pork Sunday lunch. Liquidised, of course. I believe they roast the pork bones over a high heat to get that intense flavour. The soup also has the creaminess tonkotsu should, without tasting like a lard banquet, and the pork topping is given a quick blast with the blow torch to enhance its char-grilled flavour.

The menu is also mercifully short. Choose Hakata Original, White Hide, Black (never had it) or Red (with a mild chilli-miso sauce), decide how soft or hard you want those noods and if you want pork shoulder or belly, then choose one of many extra toppings. Simples. Oh and they also do a dissembled version known as tsukemen, for those that like it or care, and serve up the lightest, crispest gyoza I’ve had this side of Japan. Beers are also ridiculously cheap (around HK$25) and I’ve never had to queue.

If you’re a ramen buff, try it out and let me know what you think. I’ve had few better bowls than this joint serves up.

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