It was a noodle bar with a name that was hard to resist. Especially when you have a friend whose name is also Maureen and you wanted to try a new place for your first dinner gathering in the new year.
Finding Maureen (that’s the name of the restaurant, short and sweet) has been more than a challenge. At least three cab drivers claimed not to know the street, and on my fourth attempt, I demanded the driver to look at my map and to get me there. Tip: To get to Hing Wan Street, you are better off looking for Stone Nullah Lane (石水渠街). That’s where the famous Blue House of Hong Kong is located at. A few doors down from Maureen is the Wanchai Visual Archive. You can’t miss it, with its patron spilling out from the bar onto the sidewalk with their merrymaking while the entire street was eerily silent.
Maureen at Maureen.
Maureen is a tiny place and can only seat some sixteen people, with only one large table for group. The rest will need to make do with bar seating, which could be tricky if you have lots of shopping with you, or you have, say, a pregnant friend with you. The interior is tasteful and bright, a cheery setting for some Chinese noodle. I was keen to find out.
The Perfect Egg.
The concept behind Maureen is slow cooked food. You could probably find plenty of literature on this method of cooking, commonly known as sous vide cooking, so I won’t repeat here. However it was probably my first time having this type of food, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Perhaps an explosion a flavour. A detour from the the norms.
I got both. The point to sous vide is that the flavour is locked into the food – pork, chicken, salmon – when it is cooked slowly in vacuum-sealed bags with temperature-controlled water. The end result is often rich and surprising. Like the salmon sous vide canto style. The salmon is tender and juicy, possible one of the sweetest cooked salmon I have ever tasted. My friends tried the pork (which I didn’t) and commented that the pork is packed with flavour and juicy too, if with just a bit too much fat.
Sous vide salmon, Canto style.
However what I didn’t expect was that, to the untrained palette, the food could be viewed as tepid. Neither hot nor cold, the meat dishes – served on the side instead of with the noodle to avoid clash of flavour within the same bowl – can be confusing. Is this… leftover? Was the fish… cooked? Can I… warm this up? Even for this adventurous foodie, I do find the food a bit of a downer, temperature wise, especially during these chilly winter days. That’s probably because I am not used to slow cooked food. My choice – the abalone – didn’t live up to the hype.
How about the noodles? It was the main draw of the restaurant, and I had to say they were, for the most part, a revelation. I like the rich mix of flavour within the bowl, and the noodles were springy in texture. My portion of the perfect egg, with mushroom gel and Chinese ham, was something that you need to try for yourself. I don’t know about the beauty nor the science of cooking the egg up to precisely 63 degrees. All I know is that creamy egg matched with the mushroom gel would take more than words to describe.
Chinese wine eggs.
A word about the surrounding. Maureen is located within a historically rich area. I was there at night, so I couldn’t really tell as many of the shops were close, but a few signs here and there were hints that in day time this could be quite a place to explore. You can find out more on this page.
Verdict? Maureen would appeal to fans of slow cooked food and noodle lovers. While you wait for your seat, explore the historically rich surrounding area.
G/F, 11 Hing Wan Street