[Penang] Bamboo wantan noodles from Hong Kee (鴻记廣式竹昇运吞麵) Campbell Street

penang
chinese
wantan
noodles

(Peter) #1

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).

Address
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.


(For the Horde!) #2

Wow. Nice. Not many places still make noodle like this. So what do you think of the wonton noodle? What is its biggest strength? The wonton? The noodle? The stock/broth?


(Peter) #3

Definitely the texture. Penang’s wantan noodles have soysauce-based dressing which I don’t quite like. I prefer KL wantan noodles.


(For the Horde!) #4

texture of the noodle or texture of the wonton?


(Peter) #5

The noodles. :blush:


#6

I must say, the bamboo pole press will soon be an lost art in making noodles in some places like Hong Kong, when the last artisan retires. Good to see young ones still interested in this technique in Penang.


#7

Out of curiosity, when served a dry style wantan mee, is a bowl of broth served alongside? Is there a choice between dry and soup?


(Peter) #8

Traditionally, a bowl of soup will be served on the side for orders of dry wantan mee in Singapore & Malaysia. But I notice a disturbing trend these days in KL and now Penang where some vendors simply did away with the side-bowl of soup.


(For the Horde!) #9

A lot of things will disappear over time. Some for the better, and some for the worse. Sometime, customers (as a collective) dig their own graves and they don’t realize.


(For the Horde!) #10

What do you mean… no soup/broth at all? That is weird. The small amount of soup is not even costly – especially, you need to prepare the broth for the soup version anyway. Probably to say dish washing cost.


#11

They probably see it wasted. For example, I prefer dry wantan mee over the soup kind. I get the small bowl of soup on the side, sometimes with wantans and sometimes without. I’ll fish the wantans out to add them to my bowl of noodles and leave the soup. Just not how I like to have my wantan mee.

Ohhh, I could really go for a bowl of wantan mee right now (actually my favorite food ever)…:cry:


(For the Horde!) #12

So you don’t like to wet your dried noodle? The noodle can get dried out over time and start to stick together…etc Maybe in your case, the restaurant has already put oil onto the noodle to prevent them from drying out.

Yeah, wonton noodle is so underrated compared to Japanese Ramen.


#13

Dry wantan mee isn’t actually dry – it still has sauces in it to coat the noodles. Dry vs. wet refers to whether the noodles are in a sauce(s) or in a soup base.

Examples (not my pics):
Dry:
3815_620x

Wet:


(For the Horde!) #14

I guess the dry wonton noodle I am familiar with is drier. The noodle may be fine at the beginning, but will dry out overtime, so the small bowl of broth is given to allow the patrons to add a spoonful here and there over the course of a meal. The advantage of this (as opposed to a lot of broth in the beginning) is that the noodle does not get soaked up. Only a little is broth is given at a time.

image


#15

I think that’s more chinese/HK style. I’m not a big fan, mainly because I like all the sauces in the S’pore/M’sia versions! It’s usually some proprietary mix of soy sauce, some kind of oil (garlic, onion, sesame), sometimes a bit of broth, and of course, some fiery sambal and/or pickled green chillies on the side. But I do order the chinese version here once in a while when I’m really craving it, and then I doctor it up with the sauces on the table (usually at Sam Woo by my work LOL). Then I remember how it’s not what I was really craving and plan a visit to Malaysia in my head while I eat. :joy: