Only a few restaurants in Hong Kong can be called “classic” nowadays; Lau Sum Kee Noodle in Sham Shui Po is definitely one of them.
The decades-old eatery is famous for its signature fare－bamboo pole noodles, or jook-sing min in Cantonese – made through a process in which the chef rides a bamboo pole to press and mix the eggs, flour and other ingredients together.
The bamboo pole that the restaurant is using is in fact an heirloom, one that has passed through three generations of noodle chefs.
Jason Lau Fat-cheong, the current owner, told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that the eatery was started by his grandfather who brought his family to Hong Kong to escape the war in China.
To earn a living, Lau’s grandfather used his culinary skills to open a mobile stall selling bamboo pole noodles in the street, a business that he later passed on to his son.
Lau’s father, Lau Ting-sum, continued the business for several years and later used his savings to buy a cart as a noodle stand on Pei Ho Street in Sham Shui Po.
He later acquired a license and established a dai pai dong on Kweilin Street in 1974.
It was in 1993 that Lau Ting-sum opened his first restaurant at the same address and called it Lau Sum Kee.
According to Jason Lau, he started to work in the store as an assistant at the age of 10. He had to do almost everything except cook noodles, a task his father reserved for himself.
When he was young, Lau said, he did not want to inherit the restaurant. But his father insisted that he, as the eldest son, had to take over the business.
They had constantly argued about the succession issue, but he finally decided to follow his father’s will after realizing how hard his father had worked to establish the business to support the family.
To take over the shop, he had to forsake the chance to go to college, along with his dream to study overseas.
Lau still remembers the hardships he had gone through in learning how to make bamboo pole noodles. His father was so strict that he once left home for more than a month because he could not stand the pressure.
Looking back, however, he appreciates the exhaustive training he received from his father.
He knows that he is carrying on a long culinary tradition handed down by his grandfather, and he is proud to continue to satisfy long-time customers by providing them the taste that has lasted for more than 70 years.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 23
Translation by Taka Liu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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