Wonton joy as noodle shop is reborn
An air-conditioned, white-tiled casual dining space has replaced long wooden benches beside a steaming stove, but regulars are happy with the wonton noodles at the reborn Man Yuen noodle shop.
The 80-year-old dai pai dong reopened yesterday at a fixed location on Elgin Street opposite the old stall, which was forced to shut on July 30 when its licence expired with the death of licensee Wong Kwong-hing.
New dishes such as barbecue pork mixed noodles, beef slice dried noodles with oyster sauce, and ginger and spring onion dried noodles are on the menu, but regulars still preferred the shop's famous wonton noodles.
Central resident Vicky Yau, a regular for more than 15 years, was among the first customers after the ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon. She said the noodles tasted even better than before.
"The noodles aren't sticky and the wontons' pastry was thin. This is great," said Ms Yau.
Sha Tin resident Chan Hay-nam made a trip to the stall after queuing for half an hour for egg tarts at the nearby Tai Cheong Bakery. "This is my first time. The braised beef is excellent," he said.
The stall is now run by Li Kin-keung and his wife Lam Siu-chun. Mr Li's old partner, younger brother Li Kin-kwan, has joined the nearby dai pai dong Yuk Yip Dessert.
Li Kin-keung was pleased with the shop - "but it's a bit small," he said.
Mrs Lam said her husband had planned to look for other jobs cooking noodles before the stall shut down but turned down an offer once they found the new spot.
"We were worried that if we changed the location, the dai pai dong style would be gone. But people have been very supportive. Neighbours and regulars have been asking us when we will open again," Mrs Lam said.
The operational costs had increased significantly, she said. They pay $26,000 rent a month, $4,000 less than what the landlord wanted, and employ two new part-time workers. They spent more than $400,000 on renovations.
Tourism Board chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, who attended the opening ceremony, said the board hoped to find ways of preserving local culture.
"Old style dai pai dong will fade out because of many reasons such as safety issues. But we hope the government could find a way so they could survive," she said.