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How to Order at a Cantonese Noodle Joint in Hong Kong

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 19 April 2017
In China, they say that northerners prefer noodles, while southerners specialize in rice dishes, but that’s not completely true. After all, Cantonese cuisine has an excellent noodle tradition, in addition to its famous rice dishes, seafood, and barbecued meats. Here’s a guide to eating at an old-school, Cantonese noodle shop in Hong Kong.

What’s on the menu?

The first thing you should decide on is whether you want noodles in soup, or stirred noodles (lo mein). The ones you’ll find in a Cantonese noodle restaurant are made from eggs—yellow, thin, and pleasantly springy. The soup option gives you a tasty broth that’s infused with aroma and flavor. However, the stirred option lets you fully enjoy the firm, chewy texture of the noodles. It’s up to you!

Next, choose the type of meat you want with your noodles. Typical choices include beef brisket, beef tendon, and shrimp wontons. The slow-cooked brisket, which is deliciously tender and hearty, is considered the most classic choice. However, you can’t go wrong with the chewy beef tendon or the springy, succulent wontons, either. If you’re stuck, you can always go with a combination.

Beef brisket noodles | © Joy Tong / Flickr
Beef brisket noodles | © Joy Tong/Flickr

Lastly, sharing a plate of fresh vegetables (typically choy sum) with oyster sauce is highly recommended, as it balances out the meal and adds some healthy fiber to the mix.

Some final tips

Don’t be afraid to slurp! In Chinese culture, slurping isn’t rude. In fact, it’s the proper way to eat noodles, and taken a sign that you’re enjoying your meal. If you’re eating in timid, disjointed bites … you’re doing it wrong!

Cheap noodle joints follow typical Cantonese-style-diner rules. That is, you shouldn’t mind being seated with strangers during peak hours, and pay the cashier by the door (in cash, mind!) when you leave.

There’s no service charge. In addition, tipping is not an established custom in Hong Kong. If you try to tip, you risk coming off as strange or even offensive, and your tip will most likely be refused.

Shrimp wonton soup noodles | © InterContinental Hong Kong / Flickr
Shrimp wonton soup noodles | InterContinental Hong Kong/Flickr