Monday, September 22, 2014

Madison Restaurant Review: Hong Kong Station

I will admit I was first interested in Hong Kong Station's unique noodle ordering system. You are given a pen and a sheet where you can choose from 8 different types of noodles, 3 different broths and more then a dozen mix ins and toppings. It's like the Coldstone of Noodles.

On my first outing to Hong Kong Station I shared a nice meal with this cutie.

She was (un?)fortunately more interested in the magna-doodle then the food, though she seemed love the broken flakes of eggroll wrapper.

I tried the beef broth with Ramen noodles, beef tenderloin, and beef meatballs. The ramen noodles were good but nothing to blog about.  The beef broth was fairly flat. There are a few condiments on the table which make it better. Personally I think what this broth really needs is a deeper roast on the bones before they make the stock and another 4-6 hours of simmering. It is a beautifully clear broth, which means it hasn't come to a full boil, which causes a stock to become very cloudy.

Beef Broth with Ramen noodles beef balls and tenderloin.

I also tried the spicy broth with Chinese egg noodles shrimpballs and shrimp dumplings. The Chinese egg noodles are nearly identical to Wah-Kee's noodles, maybe their source? The Spicy broth had a tiny bit of a kick, but more importantly Szechuan peppercorns floating on top. I told Pete chew on one of those and he spent the rest of the meal asking me "Why would you do that to me?" The analgesic effect slowly wore off as my amusement faded. Chewing on these fills your mouth with a unique flavor and numbs your mouth completely.

Again the base of the broth was under flavored requiring more simmering time.
Spicy Broth with Chinese egg noodle, shrimp ball, and shrimp wanton

Hong Kong Station's noodle soups may capture the attention at the moment for their interesting and slightly kitsch ordering method, and in the cold winter months in Madison I can think of few things more comfortable then sitting down to a great bowl of noodle soup. But it's their other offerings which make me keep wanting to go back.

HKS's Char Sui (Honey BBQ pork) is one of the best BBQ pork's I've ever had in the US. They use a decent quality pork to start out with and don't over sweeten it. This is a very common sight around the world, Char Sui hanging on a rod in a glass case. I've eaten it in Chinatowns in San Francisco, New York City, Bangkok, and in Shanghai. HKS's Char Sui easily stands with the best of them out there.

One of my favorite uses for Char Sui is steamed into a Bao, or bun.

These are HKS's Pork buns :( I recognize these all too well, in fact I have some in my freezer right now. They are a pretty tasty frozen version of Char Sui Bao filled with sweetened pork. They are the best you can get frozen in Madison. HKS I know making Bao from scratch is a lot of work, I've made them before. Bao dough is a yeast dough which is steamed instead of baked. I would buy these by the DOZEN if you made them from scratch, I would bring them to every party!

I love roasted duck nearly as much as my mom does!

Especially a beautiful one hanging in the window! So many Wisconsin hunters go duck hunting but don't know how to properly cook a duck. You can do it in the French way: Fillet the breasts out with the skin and sear it in a pan with oil, skin side down. It should be served medium rare. Or you can do it in the Chinese way: First it's dry rubbed with salt and spices and left to marinate overnight. Then it's steamed for 45 minutes to render some of the oil and pull out some the moisture. Finally it's glazed in a mixture of vinegar, honey and Soy Sauce and roasted in the oven for an hour to get the skin crispy and caramelize the glaze.

We're not done yet folks! Chinese Grilled BBQ is one of my favorite ways of eating street food in China. Grilled skewers of meat and vegetables are cooked over charcoal. They are basted in a sweet and salty mop throughout the cooking process and are finished with a shake of dried chilies.

The three above from left to right is lamb BBQ, beef BBQ and duck kidney BBQ. The lamb of course was amazing a deeply lamb flavored, just the way I like it. The beef was over-tenderized and disappointing. The duck kidney's were amazing, very tender with just a bit of bite to them like an al dente noodle. Great flavor and a pleasure to eat.

I would highly suggest going to Hong Kong Station, go with an open mind and you will find absolutely amazing things to eat!

Cost: $
Rating: 8 8 o (2.5 out of 4)

Hong Kong Station (formerly Vientiene palace)
1441 Regent St
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 661-8288

Mon Closed
Tue 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Wed 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Thu 11:00 am - 9:30 pm
Fri 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sun Closed


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