Wanton mee or noodles, is a Cantonese noodle dish which is popular in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. The dish is usually served in a hot broth, garnished with leafy vegetables, and wanton dumplings. The Hongkong version, it seems, is the most authentic. The noodles can either be served separate from the soup and wanton (“dry”), or they can be served in the soup.
There are often vegetables in the dish. Quality wantons are often determined by the thinness and smoothness of the skin and the freshness of the prawns (and sometimes a little pork) wrapped within. I don’t like the local version because there is often very little prawn and too much pork. They even add slices of char siew to the noodles. That doesn’t do it for me.
I prefer the Hongkong version of wanton mee. You can buy the frozen version at most supermarkets. Just add water and microwave. I would add some boil chye sim as well, but definitely no pork. Anyway, the local version (at least in Singapore) is well on its way out. My friend Alex, who works as a tour guide, once brought a group of Vietnamese tourists to a food court at ION Orchard and urged them to try out Singapore’s wanton mee. They bought a plate for Alex. When he tried it, he became flushed with embarrassment. It looked like wanton mee, it was called wanton mee, but it tasted like nothing even close to real wanton mee.
That’s the sorry situation here in Singapore. Too many foreign hawkers who have no idea what our signature dishes should taste like. If we don’t start leaning how to cook these dishes ourselves, they will soon disappear from our cultural history.
© Chan Joon Yee
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