Originating from the Chinese province of Sichuan, the beloved dish of dan dan noodles is a spicy and sweet dish usually containing minced pork, Sichuan pepper, and chilli oil with a sesame and peanut sauce base. It’s named after the shoulder carrying pole used by Chinese street vendors from the 1920s to 1950s, who sold the dish to passers-by. Having spread to Hong Kong, it has since been developed into different unique flavours, with some restaurants serving up an authentic taste and some offering a spin-off variety. Here are the top six places around town where you can find the best dan dan noodles.
Having offered authentic dan dan noodles for over 70 years, this Michelin-starred Sichuan restaurant is the most well-known place for a bowl of savoury dan dan noodles. One of its draws is the handmade noodles, which offers a chewiness rarely found in modern-day noodle joints, and the broth—brewed meticulously on a daily basis—that uses a traditional recipe of sesame sauce, vinegar, pork bone, and spices. While adopting the same soup base, three options are available here: Original (which you can get spicy or not spicy) ($35), Refined (which adds in minced pork) ($45), and Chilli Hot ($38), the spiciness of which (as we’ve heard) will have you sweating all over.
Wing Lai Yuen, Shop 102–103 & 105, 1/F, Gourmet Place (Site 8), The Whampoa, Hung Hom | (+852) 2320 6430
Shanghai Lao Lao is a modern Shanghainese restaurant with branches spanning across various districts in Hong Kong. Despite being chain-operated, it adheres to utilising top-notch ingredients and handmade craftsmanship. The Dan Dan Noodles in Spicy Sesame and Peanut Soup ($53) on offer is outstanding. Made with a specially-brewed sauce, the spicy soup base is served with satutéed minced meat, chopped peanuts, and silky handmade noodles, leaving you with an endless aftertaste once savoured.
Shanghai Lao Lao, locations vary
A famous Shanghainese chain restaurant in Hong Kong, Crystal Jade offers consistently high-quality dan dan noodles among all its branches. Mildly spicy, the rich soup base contains a delectable sesame flavour that tastes both sour and hot. The mellow broth, coupled with fried minced pork and firm noodles, is simple yet mesmerising. Knowing that many of their fans are vegetarians, the culinary team at Crystal Jade has also put out a vegetarian version of their Dan Dan Noodles ($62) —one that’s just as palatable as the original.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, locations vary
Established by chef Deng Hua-dong, who learnt the art of noodle-making from old masters at renowned Chinese restaurants in Chengdu, Deng G is a diner where you can experience the complexity of Sichuan cuisine. Their Dan Dan Noodles ($28) are meticulously made. Deyang sauce—a special kind of soy sauce from Sichuan—and lard are first used to give the broth a smooth texture. When served to your table, all the ingredients and seasoning are placed at the bottom of the bowl, followed by the noodles and finished with a scoop of minced pork and chopped spring onions on top. Don’t be put off by the thin film of red on the soup—the dish really is not as hot as you think.
Deng G, 2/F, Weswick Commercial Building, 147 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai | (+852) 2609 2328
Shanghai Po Po is a chain restaurant that offers affordable and delectable Shanghainese cuisine in a modern setting. Of course, “affordable” doesn’t mean their Dan Dan Noodles ($63) are any less brilliant. The highlight is the rich and flavourful soup base teeming with peanut sauce and a generous amount of minced pork in it, paired with extra-chewy noodles. The golden bowl of delicacy is also larger than those offered in other diners—perfect for those with a gluttonous appetite.
Shanghai Po Po, location varies