The ever-bustling Hong Kee on Campbell Street still produces its fresh supply of wantan noodles using the age-old “big bamboo pole” press, a traditional method once widely practiced in HK and Southern China. Its preparation, with the noodle-maker sitting astride the big bamboo pole and bouncing on it up-and-down to press the dough actually looked rather comic. And Hong Kee actually has a show-kitchen at the front of the house for diners to watch the noodle-maker bounce around when the noodle-pressing takes place between 11am to 4pm during its days of operation (the restaurant opens 8.30am till 10pm daily except Wed when it’s closed).
The fresh noodles are usually sold out each day, not a surprise as Hong kee’s version is very fine-textured and perfect for wantan noodles. Hong Kee’s large wantan dumplings, with minced pork-shrimp filling, are pretty substantial and quite tasty. A classic bowl of wantan noodle at Hong Kee will also include slivers of “char-siew” (red-tinged, caramelised Chinese BBQ pork), something you won’t find in HK-style wantan noodles nowadays. However, talk to any HK old-timer, especially those in their 80s, and they’ll recall a time when HK wantan noodles also included “char-siew”, besides the shrimp-filled wantan dumplings which they do today.
Hong Kee also offers crisp-fried wantans, but the standard of the ones here are nowhere near the ones from Kuala Lumpur’s Ho Weng Kee (at Hutong foodcourt in Lot 10, Bukit Bintang). Even the chili-garlic dip served with the wantans failed to elevate the flavours there.
However, Hong Kee also offers other stir-fried Cantonese noodle dishes on top of its signature wantan noodles. There’s a busy stir-fry station at the back of the restaurant which churns of “sar hor fun” (Chinese: 沙河粉) - fat, thick slabs of rice noodles, seared over high heat till fragrant, and seasoned with lard, dark & light soysauces, before being blanketed with a delicious, unctuous seafood- and pork-studded, eggy sauce.
“Sar hor fun”:
“Yee fu mee”, which is cooked the same way as the “sar hor fun”. “Yee fu mee” (called “ee-fu mien” in HK, “yee fu mie” in Indonesia) is a dry-roasted type of egg noodle, which is rehydrated before being fried. It’s very aromatic (as a result of from the roasting process).
Hong Kee Bamboo Noodle (鴻記 [廣式] 竹昇雲吞面)
37, Campbell Street
10100 George Town, Penang.
Tel: +604-261 9875
Opening hours: 8.30am to 10pm, daily except Wed.