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|Chulia Street Wantan Mee|
|Written by Administrator II|
|Friday, 08 April 2011 03:09|
By HELEN ONG
Although some people call him Michael Choy, he’s best known as Ah Ngau. “Ask anyone around here about Ah Ngau’s wantan mee,” he proclaims proudly, “and they will know where to direct you!”
A justifiable claim, as he has been selling wantan mee from the same rented stall at the ancient Sai Lam Coffee Shop in 307 Chulia Street since he took over from his father over 30 years ago.
Choy Senior was one of Penang’s original “tock tock mee” sellers, when the vendor would go round announcing their produce by tapping rhythmically on a piece of bamboo with a stick, hence the name.
Ah Ngau, with his trademark baseball cap, reckons his dad started selling from the stall over nearly 80 years ago. “We have elderly customers who remember coming to eat here when they were little kids,” he claimed.
Although the recipe for the minced pork wantans has remained more or less the same, certain things have changed. Dad for example used to make his own wantan noodles. It’s much too time-consuming to do that now, so they are delivered fresh daily by a local noodle maker who has been supplying him for over a decade.
The noodles are flavoured with the all-important lard, light soya sauce and a soupcon of dark. It’s served with the usual pickled sliced green chilli, which he makes himself, and a dash of sesame oil and a sprinkle of pepper. It’s fragrant and tasty – no wonder they’ve been going nigh on eight decades.
His stall is not just popular for its wantan noodles though – he’s also well known for his gubak mee or niu lam mian (beef noodles), also introduced by his father from an old Guangzhou recipe. The dark soup is most often served with wantan noodles, and although the exact ingredients are obviously not to be divulged, traces of tau cheow and soya sauce are discernible, the large slices of beef brisket boiled until tender and gelatinous.
Just like during his father’s time, the large pot of soup which is prepared fresh every day sits over a glowing charcoal fire. “This allows it to be kept hot without simmering which would overcook the meat to the point of disintegration,” explained Ah Ngau. It’s served with a side condiment of home-made chilli and garlic sauc.
Except for public holidays, the stall operates from 1-9pm Mondays to Saturdays, and he’s kept busy throughout the afternoon as Penangites pop in for a bowl or two of their favourite noodles in between meals.
Ah Ngau is helped by nephew Choy Chun Mun, who is being groomed to take over from him, thus ensuring the continuity of what is now a Penang tradition. Long may Chulia Street Wantan Mee live on.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 04:45|