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Chinese noodles, the molecular method

By Donna Mah (China Daily)

08:22, June 21, 2013

A dollop of foamed sesame oil is added to the noodles at the table. (China Daily/Donna Mah)

Tucked away on an old side street in Wan Chai is a narrow little shop that is home to Maureen, a charming Chinese noodle shop that combines molecular gastronomy and slow cooking methods.

To find it, it helps to know where the historic Blue House heritage building on Stone Nullah Lane is in Wan Chai. From the Blue House, head to the side street just a bit farther up, turn left, and you'll soon find Maureen.

Maureen is named after Maureen Loh, the chef and owner. Originally from Hong Kong, she lived in Canada for many years before returning to open her namesake eatery.

We spoke briefly to Maureen. Though she was very busy overseeing the kitchen, handling administrative duties and greeting guests, it was clear that she is very much a person who pays attention to details.

Much thought has been put into the preparation as well as the presentation of the food here. The food served here uses few ingredients and isn't fussy, but it is not what would be called simple either.

On a lunchtime visit, we decided to try the six-course noodle tasting menu (HK$180 ($23) for lunch).

We started with tomatoes and Spanish Iberico ham.

The cherry tomatoes had been marinated in balsamic vinegar, shallots and garlic. They were tangy and sweet and a perfect complement to the salty thin-sliced ham. This cold dish was followed by "the perfect egg", a 63 C poached egg served on top of delicately earthy mushroom "fluid gel" and bits of Chinese ham.

The next dish, abalone and chicken, was sliced slow cooked chicken breast infused with lemon oil and grilled abalone served on a bed of truffle potato noodles.

The cold potato slivers were made from partially cooked potatoes so they had a bit of crunch. Both the chicken and the abalone were tender, but for those who prefer stronger flavors, this dish needs a bit more of a punch. It had a good blend of textures, though.

The grilled hoisin pork and Chinese Shaoxing wine egg with a rich molten yolk was served with a bowl of the signature noodles and a steaming bowl of Chinese broth.

A dollop of foamed sesame oil is added at the table bringing the rich and dramatic fragrance of the oil to the dish. The noodles are made by a noodle master according to Maureen's requirements and are a cross between the northwestern Chinese dandan noodles and the southern Chinese thin wonton noodles. They are soft but had just the right degree of firmness.

The restaurant also serves noodle sets on their a la carte menu.

These are served dry-tossed in a shallot sauce with a bowl of MSG-free homemade broth on the side.

My dining companion chose the noodles salmon sous vide Canto-style (HK$98) and was very happy with the tender salmon (cooked to medium) served on a bed of blanched mustard greens with soy sauce and a sprinkling of slivered green onion and ginger. Simple, full of flavor, and delicious.

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