Finding vegetarian food in Hong Kong has become easier over time but even with the best intentions there are times when restaurant owners seem to believe it's okay to cook their noodles in non-vegetarian broth.
Knowing that I've made it a habit to try to message most restaurants where I'm skeptical about their ability to provide truly vegetarian food.
So when I came across Mean Noodles, I immediately decided to email them before making the trip down to Sheung Wan to try them out. Luckily for me, Kevin Lim who is the Owner and Chef at Mean Noodles replied that yes they do in fact have some vegetarian offerings. With an extra reassurance that they have a small batch of veggie stock available to satiate their vegetarian patrons I made my way down there as soon as I could.
Located in a small alley in Sheung Wan near the Western Market the easiest way to get to Mean Noodles (and the most fun) would be by catching a tram towards Kennedy town and getting off at the Western Market Terminus.
Once at Western Market Terminus use google maps to help your way. You will soon see a bustling little hub of activity in an alley where you wouldn't expect to find it. With it's exposed concrete outside hiding an attractive tiled interior Mean Noodles is easy to miss if not for the people who were waiting for a seat inside. The seating is limited so you might have to wait a while on busy days.
Hungry and eager to get home to play with the new born niece I ordered both the Malaysian Laksa and Char Kuey Teow (Penang flat rice noodles) to go.
With a request for spicy food I took the securely yet simply packaged food and came along home. With a few more chores along the way though it was way past lunch time by the time I actually got home and the decision was made to eat the laksa and flat rice at dinner.
Come dinner time both dishes were reheated after spending a good 4 hours in the fridge. The laksa had a nice rich flavor with the two kinds of noodles provided along with the crunchy veggies complementing the creaminess of the coconut nicely. I would have definitely preferred the spice being kicked up a notch or two as they didn't have the punch that I had expected laksa to have. I am also overly fond of spice so the spicy version might suit you perfectly. Talking about the laksa I must mention that Kevin was kind enough to check and confirm that there was no fish sauce in the paste.
The flat rice noodles were slightly worse for wear with the tofu/veggie protein strips becoming chewy on reheating them. In terms of flavor though with the spring onions and soy sauce doing their duty well it did well. My first time eating this dish meant I didn't know what to expect and I can say that I am pleasantly surprised. I look forward to trying it piping hot one day before the protein strips have had a chance to go chewy. On a personal note I would have appreciated some crunchy peanuts or fried garlic along with the dish to give a bit of crunch but I'm not sure if that would be deviating too far from the original dish.
With super quick and polite replies from Kevin and food that was tasty despite being reheated and eaten several hours after it was cooked, Mean Noodles gets my vote and is certainly on my list for a visit with friends soon.
At 88 HKD a dish the price point is perhaps 10-20 dollars more than I would expect for a noodle bowl but the responsive and helpful service meant it was worth it.