Cart noodle

Cart noodle (traditional Chinese: 車仔麵; simplified Chinese: 车仔面) is a noodle dish which became popular in Hong Kong and Macau in the 1950s through independent street vendors operating on roadsides and in public housing estates in low-income districts, using carts.[1][2] Many street vendors have vanished but the name and style of noodle endures as a cultural icon.[3]

Cart noodle
Cart noodles with beef soup
CourseMain course
Place of originHong Kong and Macau
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsFlour, egg and depend on toppings
Cart noodle
Traditional Chinese車仔麵
Simplified Chinese车仔面
Cantonese YaleChējái mihn
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese嗱喳麵
Simplified Chinese嗱喳面
Cantonese YaleLáhjá mihn
A bowl of thin noodles with sour wheat gluten and fish curd at a restaurant in Sham Shui Po
A menu in a cart noodle restaurant in Wan Chai


With many immigrants arriving from mainland China during the 1950s, hawkers would sell food out of a cart roaming the streets.[1] Some vendors specialising in cooked noodles would sell them with an assortment of toppings and styles.[4]

Historically, the cart frames were assembled out of wood with metallic basins. It allowed the heat inside to cook the ingredients. In the old days, it was possible to receive large quantities for a cheap price. The noodles were considered "cheap and nasty". Cost was generally low to appeal to the average citizens. It was known for its poor hygiene. As such, they were also commonly referred to as "filthy noodle" (嗱喳麵). Since hygiene standards rose, many street vendors (licensed or otherwise) have vanished.


The name and style of the noodle endures, and remain widely available in low- to mid-end eateries. The price may vary depending on the combination of ingredients, or type of establishments. On the contrary, because the noodle is now defined by its retro style, it can sometimes be found in higher-end establishments. It may offer costlier types of ingredients at a higher price.

Typical combinations

Cart noodles is typically based upon the diner choosing various ingredients they would like, including the type of noodles, various soup broths, and toppings.[2] Examples of types of noodles and toppings, which may vary considerably from stall to stall:




The soup is usually flavoured with curry. Some vendors allow customers to choose other flavours.[2]

See also


  1. Cart noodles (in Chinese)
  2. "The best local food in Hong Kong". Time Out Hong Kong. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  3. "Kai Kai Noodle Shop". CNN Go. 8 October 2010. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  4. "May May Cart Noodle Restaurant". Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  5. "Test results of cart noodles released". The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Division, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2019. (in English)
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