Regional Cantonese Wonton Noodles roundup (SF Bay Area)

Wonton Noodles

Another classic comfort food that can be found around the SF Bay Area. There are essentially 3 critical components that make up this dish: broth, noodles, and wonton itself. Finding one excellent component out of these three items at a noodle shop should be considered high praise.

The light brown broth is usually made from pork bones, shrimp roe, and dried tilefish/flatfish/flounder. Chicken bones and shrimp shells are likely common ingredients as well. The dried tilefish should be toasted in a wok which and due to maillard reactions will further intensify the flavors of the tilefish.

The noodle strand is ideally thin as a thread and cooked just below ‘al-dente’. Most noodles are machine made, whereas the old craft of kneading the noodles with a bamboo pole ([SFBA] Where to buy fresh noodles?) provides a great texture, where there is a slight crunch to the bite. The noodles are made with flour, duck eggs and kansui (mixture of potassium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate). The kansui is an alkaline solution that affects the gluten formation in the dough, and causes the noodles to have a firmer texture and also that yellow hue (ramen is another type of noodle that uses alkaline solution).

The wonton is typically comprised of fresh shrimp and pork (usually a 7:3 ratio) wrapped in paper thin wrapping skin. Visually the wonton filling would be tightly wrapped with a small ratio of wrapper skin, and the excess skin once boiled would appear like fluttering, long goldfish tails. The size of the wontons varies from restaurant to restaurant from somewhere around a golf boy to rather substantially large wontons.

Also note, there is a slight variation to the wonton noodle dish itself called lo mein. Lo mein is where the undiluted soup is served separately on the side with the noodles and other items (kinda like tsukemen). Lo mein in this context is not the same as the stir fried noodles with sauce.

Where to eat?

Check out all the other topics on the regional Cantonese cuisine