Monday, 29 July 2013
Pontian Wanton Mee - Uniquely Johor Twist to a Cantonese Classic
The Pontian style of wanton mee is unique and to me, it is one of the foods that make up the Johor brand of foods. (The others include foods like Laksa Johor, Mee Bandung Muar and Kway Teow Kia. More on these in future posts.)
What then is Pontain wanton mee? The first distinction is in its sauce. Love it or loathe it, the sauce is a unique blend of ketchup, chili sauce, oyster sauce, soya sauce and sesame oil concocted by old Mr. Loh, the creator of Pontian wanton mee and founder of Heng Heng wanton mee years ago in 1948.
Heng Heng, Jalan Parit Mesjid, Taman Anggerik, Pontian. 9:00am to 6:00pm. Friday off.
Heng Heng wanton mee where it all started is still around today in Pontian, run by Mr. Loh's son.
Other than the unique blend of tangy, sweet and savoury sauce, fish balls in the wanton soup is another characteristic that sets Pontian wanton mee apart. The fish balls are a nice touch but they are otherwise quite ordinary in texture and taste.
Other than these features, Pontian wanton mee is pretty much similar to their cousins in other aspects.
The wanton noodles are tender crunchy and al dente like all good wanton noodles should be.
The wanton fillings are tender and flavourful minced pork, and wrapped in slurp-easy, slippery skins.
Pontian char siew though, is a little uninspiring. Pontian char siew looks pale, thinly sliced, limp and dry. It's flavour is as anaemic as it looks. They are wok cooked, not charcoal grilled. I prefer my char siew charcoal grilled - chunky, charred at the edges and coated with tacky savoury sweet caramel-like gravy - the way they do it in KL.
Ah Chuan, Batu 36, Jalan Johor, Pontian, Johor. 9:00am to 6:00pm
For authentic Pontian wanton mee, besides Heng Heng, there is Ah Chuan. Ah Chuan is actually the name of old Mr. Loh and this shop is owned and run by his daughters. Not surprisingly, Heng Heng and Ah Chuan's Pontian wanton mee are very similar with nothing much to tell them apart.
Sin Kee, 8383 kopitiam, Batu 36, Jalan Johor, Pontian. 1:00pm to 6:00pm. Thurs off.
The third flag bearer of Pontian wanton mee is Sin Kee. Not a shop but a small stall in the popular 8383 kopitiam. Sin Kee is not related to the Lohs but it is the favourite of many in Pontian. The founder of Sin Kee has retired and he is succeed by a nephew.
In most aspects, Sin Kee's wanton mee is similar to Heng Heng and Ah Chuan. The big draw of Sin Kee is their tender crunchy noodles, which are still handmade and the dough is kneaded by riding on a bamboo pole, just like the old days. As a kid, I used to have a lot of fun bouncing on the bamboo pole at my neighbour's flat who was a wanton mee seller in old Toa Payoh in Singapore.
Sin Kee's wantons are also heftier.
Love it or loathe it, the Pontian style of wanton mee has spread beyond the little fishing town of Pontian and are seen in Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
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