Fresh from Tokyo: Opening this Thursday (Feb 12), Mita-Seimenjo Tsuke-men is the newest edition to Hong Kong's booming Japanese noodle scene. Located on Tung Lung Street in bustling Causeway Bay, Mita-Seimenjo is in good company alongside cult-favourite Butao Ramen and renowned Kanada-ya Ramen. But on a small street choked full of Japanese noodle shops, how does Mita-Seimenjo differentiate itself?
Dippity Dip: Unlike its neighbours, Mita-Seimenjo focuses on the tsuke-men style of noodles, a thick chewy noodle served with a dipping sauce. The story goes that the tsuke-men style first appeared in 1955 in Tokyo, and was invented by Yamagishi Kazuo. Mita-Seimenjo is a popular chain known for perfecting the art of tsuke-men and has 19 branches in Japan and 5 throughout Taiwan. The Causeway Bay location is the brand's first venture into Hong Kong. The noodles are made fresh daily in-house, in the "factory" upstairs to the shop. The precise recipe changes day-to-day depending on humidity in order to maintain a consistent quality. The thick noodles are boiled, then cooled in cold water to allow each plump strand to shrink and maintain a chewy texture. A thick, rich broth simmered for 12 hours from pork and chicken bones, vegetables and fish accompany as a robust dipping sauce alongside slices of pork (charsiu), shoyu egg, bamboo shoots and green onion (negi).
(Above) Rich dipping sauce with fish powder and seaweed
Slurp! We chose the "Hiyamori" option, which is the classic (and recommended) way of enjoying tsuke-men with cold noodles. We loved the chewy, robust texture of the noodles, especially when warmed by the powerfully flavoured dipping sauce. A word of caution - don't fully submerge the noodles in the broth, as it does get quite salty. Just a brush of the sauce allows for the wheaty aromas of the noodles to shine through. The sauce had a powerful bonito fish aroma, and we loved the tender morsels of stewed pork hidden within.
The tsuke-men ($78) comes in small, medium and large sizes, all for the same price, and there's also a spicy dipping sauce option. The 210g "medium" size was perfect for us, although we couldn't finish an entire bowl. There's also an option (called "atsumori") to opt for hot noodles instead of cold, although the authentic way is to go with the cold strands, which would make a welcomed refreshing meal during Hong Kong's humid summers.
Once you finish with the noodles, there's the option of "soup-wari", where a bonito fish soup base is poured into the sauce to dilute it enough for drinking, or "wari-meshi", where rice and white sesame are added to make a flavourful congee.
Snack Attack: As side dishes, there's also an assortment of snacks such as the house-special pan fried dumplings ($48 for 6) that is reminiscent of the flavours of okonomiyaki, and the yaki chikuwa ($30), a battered and fried Japanese fish cake served with matcha salt. We didn't get to try the dumplings but the fish cakes were quite light, although one would be plenty to savour.
Verdict: An interesting diversion to Hong Kong's already saturated ramen market. A robust, hearty meal for those not watching their carb intake, although a bit salty for our taste buds.
G/F, Soundwill Plaza II, Midtown, 1-29 Tung Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 香港銅羅湾登龍街25－29金朝陽中心2期地舗一樓