Cantonese wonton noodles take on different forms in different countries where the Cantonese-Chinese settled - from the HK version with its complex, subtly-flavoured soups and al dente noodles, to the Kuala Lumpur version where the noodles are tossed in a delicious dark-hued dressing consisting of dark- and light-soysauces, sesame oil, drippings from char-siu (caramelised BBQ pork) and other condiments, to the Singapore version where spicy chili paste is added to the noodles. But all the different wonton noodles have two things in common - the thin wheat noodles known as wantan mein and the poached wonton dumplings filled with either shrimp or minced pork, or a mixture of both.
Penang-style wonton noodles share about the same type of dressing as the KL version, but its more al dente noodle texture is closer to the HK variety. And my favourite spot in Penang for wonton noodles is from Chew Jetty Cafe, where 46-year-old first-generation hawker, Winner Ho, plies his trade.
His wonton dumplings are the plumpest ones around, and he also has the unique tri-flavoured wonton noodles - 1/3 of the noodles were dressed in dark-hued soy dressing, 1/3 in lard-onion dressing, and 1/3 in ultra-spicy Sichuan pepper dressing. He tops his wonton noodles with some really lucious char-siu and golden-fried pork lard for added flavour. Poached choy sum greens and the requisite pickled green chilis complete the plate of sinful deliciousness.
I found Mr Ho’s Sichuan pepper dressing to be too tongue-searingly hot, and way beyond my chili-tolerance level. So, I usually opt for the Yin-Yang version - with just the dark, soy dressing noodles, and the pale, lard-dressed one.
Each plate of wonton noodles is usually accompanied by a small bowl of clear soup containing minced pork-shrimp-filled wonton dumplings, topped with chopped green scallions.
We had an extra order of deep-fried wonton dumplings to share - and these fat, little packages were decadently delish, minced pork-shrimps and water-chestnut for a textural crunch. Theyy’re served with a sweet chili sauce dip.
The wonton noodle stall has been extremely popular and usually sells out way before 4pm. Try and come for breakfast, and definitely before lunch-time, when the crowd comes in.
Wonton noodles at Chew Jetty Cafe
47, Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town, Penang
Tel: +6012 4497228/ +6016 4939228
Opening hours : 7.30am-4pm daily, except Tuesday (closed).