When it comes to noodle for breakfast, most of the time children will ask for Wanton Mee. It is children all time favourite. It has the sweet with slight salt and chewy noodle. Wanton Mee is a delicious serving of noodles in either dry or soup version. The dry version uses a dark soy base while the soup traditionally comes with chicken or pork broth.
The ubiquitous wanton noodles is a common hawker fare that is simple in its preparation, but big on flavours and is favoured by almost anyone of any age.
This is a Cantonese dish that is believed to have originated from Guangzhou, China and has since spread to countries like Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and any other country with a China Town.
If you head up north to Penang, don’t be surprised to find that it is also known as Tok Tok Mee, a nickname it earned from the old days when hawkers selling it used long bamboo sticks to make the “tok tok” sound in the streets, to draw attention to their stall.
It may be called Tok Tok Mee, Wan Tan Mee, One Ton Mee or Wanton Mee, but however it is spelt, the ingredients served up for this dish in Penang remains almost the same. Wanton Mee is a very popular choice in Penang, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
A dry version of the noodles will consist of the noodles generously tossed in a mixture of sauces, sliced roast pork, leafy green vegetables like choy sum, pickled green chillies and wantons.
The soupy version for the noodles where it is served in a bowl of hot broth and garnished with similar ingredients of vegetables, char siew and dumplings.
The dish appears simple enough to prepare as the egg noodles are first blanched before being dunked in cold water and poured into either a hot bowl of broth or a plate to serve with the sauces and garnishings.
The blanching and cold dunking process is important in determining the flavour, texture and ultimately, the taste of the noodles.
This is because the blanching is to first cook the noodles but if it is left in the boiling hot water for too long, it becomes too soft and if it is not dunked in cold water to rinse it, it will have a sticky, slimey texture to it.
A plate of perfectly prepared noodles means thin, smooth noodles without any eggy odour and a chewy, not too soft and not too hard consistency.
Next, the mixture of the sauces for the dry version also makes a difference and is also one of the factors that differentiate the various styles of wanton noodles.
The more common style found in Penang is the darker version where dark soya sauce is also added to the noodles, giving it a darker brown colour than the light brown of the milder Cantonese version. The darker version has stronger flavours due to the additional sauces and is slightly more salty.
Usually, the wanton noodles in Penang are served along with pickled green chilies that gives the mild plate of noodles a contrasting sour taste.
There are now variants to the traditional style of wanton mee as some enterprising hawkers will also try different styles such as with added shredded chicken, stewed mushrooms, stewed chicken legs and even with chicken curry.
Try out the Penang-style wanton mee at these stalls in George Town,
Tai Wah Cafe @ Jalan Argyll (7.30am-noon)
Roadside Stall @ Lebuh Chulia roadside night hawkers centre (6pm-11pm)
Maria’s Wan Tan Mee @ Jalan Burmah (6pm-1am)