Saturday, 28 April 2012

Ah Chuan 亚泉 - the Grand Daddy of Pontian Wanton Mee 笨珍云吞面

The Pontian style of wanton mee 笨珍云吞面 has that distinctive tangy and spicy sauce, and like all things unique, people either love it or hate it. So it is hardly a surprise that Pontian wanton mee evokes such heated discussions, in hawker centres and in online forums.

Love it or loathe it, one thing for sure, Pontian wanton mee has a big enough following to spawn a thriving franchise that has branches all over Singapore, in Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, and even in Batam, Indonesia.

Yet, people from Pontian are indignant and never fail to point out that all these are nothing but poor copies of the real thing back in Pontian.

To find out for myself, I went to the quaint, charming seaside town of Pontian to check out the Big 3 of Pontian wanton mee – Ah Chuan, Heng Heng, and Sin Kee.

My first stop was this unassuming looking shop along Jalan Johor in Pontian, but don't be fooled - this is the grand daddy of the famous Pontian wanton mee.

Ah Chuan is the original MR Loh who came to Pontian from Guangzhou, China more than 60 years ago and started his wanton mee push cart stall that has become today's Pontian wanton mee legend.

Through hardwork and innovation, Ah Chuan prospered and moved his push cart stall into this shop more than twenty years ago. This shop today is run by MR Loh’s daughters. One of MR Loh’s sons runs the popular Heng Heng wanton mee in Taman Anggerik on the north side of Pontian Kechil.

The wanton mee is prepared out at the front of the shop as is the usual set-up of food shops in Johor. MR Loh's daughter was preparing the noodles.

These four shiny steel cans hold the four key ingredients namely oyster sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil and tomato ketchup that make up the distinctive Pontian wanton mee sauce. On the back wall are photos of celebrities who had featured Ah Chuan in their programmes and publications.

Ah Chuan's noodles are thick, heavy and eggy - springy to the bite. Coated with the distinctive tangy and spicy Pontian wanton mee sauce, the noodles are smooth, flavourful and tasty.

The char siew was lean, dry, thinly sliced and tasted like pork jerky. This is certainly not the chunky, juicy type of char siew which is my favourite but Ah Chuan's jerky-like version is quite delicious to me too.

The wanton skin was soft, smooth and wrapped a pinch of tender sesame flavoured minced pork.

A fish ball, another of the distinguishing marks of Pontian wanton mee. Good but nothing special here - the fish balls are bought from suppliers. The tasty soup has a robust anchovy flavour just like the 古早味 (heritage flavour) of the old days

Eating wanton mee at Ah Chuan helps me appreciate the living history of Pontian wanton mee while enjoying top class wanton noodles at the same time J

Restaurant name: Kedai Mee Ah Chuan
Address: 130, Batu 36, Jalan Johor, Pontian, Johor
GPS: 1.480017,103.395965
Hours: 9:00am to 6
Non Halal

Date visited: 15 Apr 2012

1 comment:

  1. I lived in Pontian in the 60s and 70s. As far as I can remember, Ah Chuan's first shop was located close to the United Theatre, not Jalan Johor.


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