Any foodie worth his or her salt knows that the best foods in Asia are often hidden away in tiny alleyways and overlooked street corners, so when Google Maps directed us to the wrong location, we knew we could be on to something special. The restaurant we were looking for was tucked in an alley behind the office building to which we had been directed, so by the time we found our destination, we were more than ready to slurp up some hearty noodles.
Specialising in Malaysian hawker dishes, Mean Noodles (麵佬到) has an interesting backstory. Owner and chef Kevin Lim stems from a design background, having studied architecture at Cornell University before sharpening his knives at Le Cordon Bleu in Boston. When he’s not moonlighting as head chef at Mean Noodles, he’s running an interior design practice, openUU, alongside his wife, Caroline, who doubles as the operations manager at the restaurant. Mean Noodles is a true passion project for the couple, merging their interests of design and food.
After cracking into some fresh coconuts, we decided on the char siu kon loh dry tossed noodles ($118) and the Nyonya laksa curry mee ($128) for our lunch.
The char siu noodles arrived with a healthy serving of vegetables, ranging from blanched bean sprouts to morning glory. The pork had been cooked sous vide for eight hours to give it a delicate tenderness and then seared to add even more flavour.
The star of the restaurant, however, was their signature laksa, which boasts over 20 ingredients. The incredibly aromatic soup starts from a base of chicken broth, which is later blended with a spice and herb paste as well as a small amount of coconut milk. Fresh laksa and pandan leaves are flown in from Thailand and Malaysia for the paste, and it’s cooked at a low temperature to extract all the flavours. Because the laksa paste is already so rich, very little coconut milk is needed in order to give the soup that thick and creamy consistency that makes us swoon.
We loved how every bite of noodles can be accompanied with a different topping, since the bowl was stacked full of various delicious ingredients, including prawns, chicken slices, fish balls, fish cakes, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, morning glory and a boiled egg. House-made belacan and sambal were served on top of the egg as ready condiments for dipping, and the mixture of vermicelli and egg noodles added an interesting textural contrast. We were especially impressed with the giant prawns, which had plenty of umami shrimp fat.
We capped off our meal with a hint of sweetness from the pandan flan ($20), although the highlight for us was definitely the laksa.
If you like laksa, this might very well be the best one in town. Mean Noodles is a cosy little outlet for casual dining – a perfect spot for a satisfying lunch.
Shop 4, 148 Wing Lok Street (close to Western Market), Sheung Wan, 3104 0288
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