//vol.15-4 Viewpoint: Food

Love in a Bowl

by Jeremy Chan


We all have love stories to tell, and this time it is with the Chicken Noodle Soup I had at a Thai street food restaurant in Hong Kong.  


“I need good food, and I need it right now,” my mind screamed, as I walked down Wanchai’s Jaffe Road at 3am. With my electric guitar bag strap slung over my left shoulder and both ears ringing from the live rock show that I had just played at the local bar, I craned my head left and right, in search of anything that would, number one, satiate my ever-increasing hunger, number two, taste good, and number three, not put a dent in my wallet. 

I walked past what I believed to be just another Thai take-out establishment serving those in the food and beverage industry who had just finished their shift. Curious, I peered inside, and it was at that very moment — the scent of what smelt like someone had bottled up a whiff of Thailand in a glass bottle and opened It — I was hit by the most delectable fragrance emanating from one customer’s bowl of hot noodles.

I sat down, beckoned the attention of a staff member, pointed at the man’s bowl and exclaimed, shamelessly: “I’ll have the same, please.”

The wait was one of excitement, agony and wonder. And then, the server walked over to my table, holding onto the porcelain bowl for dear life in a bid to not let any soup slip out from the edge. 

I scrambled to get a pair of wooden chopsticks and metal spoon from the assortment of utensils at the side of the table, all while uncovering the myriad of sauces and toppings that come with the dish. What could possibly go wrong at this point?

It then hit me — one of life’s greatest pleasures involves stuffing one’s face with a deeply satisfying, piping-hot, and potentially life-changing bowl of savoury and spicy noodles freshly made and straight from the kitchen.

When it’s prepared right, seasoned correctly, consistent each time — and the very sight of it being brought to your table makes you feel the same excitement you once felt as an innocent child — you know you’ve found a restaurant to support for a long, long time.


There are few restaurants in Hong Kong that truly teleport you to other parts of the world.


Tucked away in Hong Kong’s Wanchai district is a quaint eatery down a side street that serves some of the most authentic Thai cuisine in the city. In spite of it being at ground level, its anonymity might have seen you walk right past it without even knowing. In this city of countless Thai restaurants, many in this same district, you’d be hard-pressed to find one as close to the real deal as this one. 

This little place is neither pretentious nor expensive. Focusing entirely on the food, it has managed to invite a part of Thailand into every bite. For my bowl of chicken noodle soup,  the real star is the broth. Having sampled just about every noodle dish the city has to offer, I can say with, perhaps a contentious level of confidence, that the broth in this particular bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup is the best you can get in the city. I have no doubt that others might disagree!

Hong Kong prides itself on serving scrumptious noodles, be it wonton noodles, noodles served with fish balls or beef brisket, or noodles served with siu mei or barbecued pork. While these dishes have history and perhaps are the brainchild of a restaurant’s cook that has been in business for generations, I think that one critical factor that is perhaps overlooked in these dishes is, sadly, the broth. It feels as though these soups are only there for the sake of being there. They lack the depth of flavour, sheer deliciousness and that “it” factor that tells customers that scream love, respect and reverence!  It seems as if they have forgotten their one true purpose — to reach into one’s soul and say “hey, it’s all going to be okay.” 


The real star is the broth.


There are few restaurants in Hong Kong that truly teleport you to other parts of the world. While some may try — through their bespoke menu options, over-the-top décor and overpriced cocktails that incorporate ingredients from the cuisine they are trying to replicate — this Thai eatery achieves this effortlessly. 

While sifting through the menu, you are then caught in the cross hairs of a conversation between the waitresses who respond to each other in their native language from across the restaurant. Within seconds, your ears pick up the loud rumble of nearby traffic, cars honking at each other, and delivery drivers scuttling away on their scooters. 

All these sensations come together in a symphony of sound that treat each customer to a brief and ever-fleeting feeling of indulging in a meal at a roadside restaurant in the middle of Thailand — right in the heart of Hong Kong – before the food even arrives at your table.

Now that is how you show customers what your nation’s cuisine is like. When your food does eventually arrive and you sink your teeth into the first bite, it all starts to make sense. 

While Hong Kong boasts an impressive array of restaurants offering international cuisine spanning almost every corner of the globe, there still exist eateries around town that offer not only a soul-hugging bite — but a full-blown sensory experience — at an extremely affordable price. 

In fact, Hong Kong’s street food scene offers a wide variety of delicious ready-to-eat snacks and drinks sold by vendors at food stalls, including egg tarts, fish balls, egg waffles, and stinky tofu, among others. Visitors can also try eating at Dai Pai Dongs, which are outdoor food stalls in Hong Kong that originated in the 1950s. Despite a decline in numbers due to government regulations and an inability for restaurant owners to obtain new licenses, the lively atmosphere and tasty, budget-friendly meals continue to attract locals and tourists. 

This Thai eatery makes up a small yet unique portion of Hong Kong’s street food scene, with the city widely regarded as one of the best cities in the world for street food.  And as long as I’m still in Hong Kong, this Thai street food restaurant and its Chicken Noodle Soup will always hold a special place in my heart. That first aroma, that first bite, that glorious memory will be with me  for a long, long time — and most importantly, keep drawing me back time and time again. 


Jeremy Chan is a full-time journalist who specialises in writing about sustainable finance, climate change, clean energy, capital markets and ESG. When he isn’t writing about serious matters, he enjoys blogging about his travels around Southeast Asia, DJ-ing and bashing out heavy metal tunes on the electric guitar with his band, The Octopus.