For an avid foodie like myself, who occasionally love to seek out authentic, historical, culinary gems. It is therefore disparaging and a sense of betrayal to see certain age-old classics being bastardized and transformed, by chefs and/or business owners, using short-cuts and gimmicky approaches. Their sole objectives, to boost profit margins and/or attract new clientele.
One such example is the quintessential Cantonese comfort food, ’ Won-Ton Noodles '. This delicious gem was created generations ago in Canton, China by a Mr. Mak. The delicious end product featuring dainty, cloud-like, ‘bite size’ pork & shrimp dumpling morsels paired with super fine al-dente chewy egg noodles in a refined, flavourful broth. The latter based on hours of slow simmering using pork and chicken bones, shrimp shells, shrimp eggs and toasted fluke…etc. Condiments of lard, shrimp eggs and yellowing chives were added as a final touch to elevate the flavour profile further! A perfectly crafted product should exude wonderful aroma and the taste, mouth-watering addictive… enticing the patrons to order an extra bowl or two!
Sadly, IMHO, this classic have gone through some rather unwelcome mutations. In some cases producing an almost unrecognizable product when compared to the original. First off was the transformation of the won-ton morsels. In some establishments, this culinary trinkets have now ballooned into the size of a golf ball, requiring several bites to down a single piece. To cut cost, cheaper, pungent scallions instead of chives are being used as condiments, destroying rather than complimenting the profile of the dish. However, the saddest scenario goes to the broth when, to cut corner, a soya sauce base chicken broth loaded with MSG was frequently used. Imagine what a sushi aficionado would feel if the nigiri sushi he ordered comes in the size of a hot-dog and dressed with chicken gravy?!
Therefore, for me, it was more than God-send to come across this truly amazing hidden gem inside the relatively new Markham shopping mall - ’ King Square '. Once entered the mall, one can locate the restaurant just by following the ’ toasted fluke and shrimp eggs ’ aroma of the broth escaping from the restaurant premise. EVERY dishes we tried today and during past visits were executed perfectly with the authentic Won-Ton noodles, the best rendition I have come across outside of the Orient! Adhering to every component and instruction laid down in Mr Mak’s original age-old recipe, one heavenly bite and it transformed me back to my days in Hong Kong!
Other dishes we ordered were all lovingly prepared and expertly executed.
These included: Braised Beef briskets and tendons, Shrimp ’ Shui-Gow ’ noodles ( shrimp dumplings with wood fungus and bamboo shoots ); Sweet & Spicy penny hot-sauce shredded pork lo-mien; Fried crullers.
The hands-down stand-outsdefinitely belongs to the well-seasoned, crispy, crunchy and perfectly timed pig’s liver in the rice congee. The steamed rice-roll crepe ( aka cheung-fun ) was silky smooth and delicate, a worthy competitor to Sam’s Congee, the once authority in this hard-to-perfect dish.
With this, IMO, BEST Won-ton noodle and congee joint in the GTA just a short drive from my home, I am sure I will be having many more re-visits making this place my regular ’ canteen’!!