Machine Made Wanton Mee
By Joanna Goh - Tuesday, Apr 01, 2014
Wanton mee – it’s hard not to feel cynical if it’s being made by “machines”. Sure, it helps cut down manpower and raise so called productivity, but these things cannot be applied across the field. I tried one version recently and frankly, I was not all disappointed though.
Located in a quiet heartland neighbourhood at Holland Drive, one will not miss this stall made prominent with its white signboard and a large close up shot of their signature wanton mee. I was served by an elderly helper, not the boss, who whipped up the orders with care and is attentive to orders especially if you’re a regular.
When questioned what exactly is so mechanised about it, said: “The slicing of the char siew is done by the slicer, the frying of the wantons is monitored by a fryer and the cooking of the noodles is carefully timed to ensure the noodles are cooked just right.” The machine aids in the preparation and cooking.
The end product is an unexpectedly tasty rendition of the traditional Cantonese dish. Their signature red sauce is slightly sweet and the kick of the chilli is gentle on the palate. The sauce tasted light and it doesn’t get absorbed by the noodles – the sauce coats the noodles nicely. The noodles are slightly springy, not soggy and have a subtle egg taste. The char siew is well marinated and moist as they use a fattier cut. Their fried wantons are fried till golden crisp and have just enough fillings to stop you from complaining.
Having tried this version made by the experienced senior helper, it would not be fair to not compare it with the boss’s rendition. We did just that at their outlet in Bedok. The lady boss was friendly and very attentive.
The taste test. For starters, it looks identical to the ones served at their original store. But strangely, the first thing regulars pointed out to me while I was snapping photos: “Eat before it gets cold!” Confused, I quickly dug in. The flavour of the sauce is similar but it taste a tad spicier compared to the one prepared by the senior helper. The char siew taste exactly the same but because the portion was smaller and I wished there were more. Wantons are fried to the same exact crispiness and the portion of meat fillings to wanton skin is well measured. Then, the noodles. I finally understood why the regulars mentioned about eating it quickly. The noodles have a nice springy QQ texture and if you let it cool, it clumps up, probably, the cool water dip (to stop the noodle from overcooking) was not executed well, compared to the one made by the senior helper at the other outlet.
While it is not fully made by an automatic machine, how good a bowl of wanton noodles is depends on the maker or in this case the finisher. Can’t really call this a fully mechanised wanton mee but it does help in delivering some form of consistency, to an extent. But when all is said and done – no one cares if it’s made by humans or machines – it just has to be unforgivingly good… and throw in cheap, if possible.
RedRing Wanton Mee, Chiang’s Swallow Coffeeshop, Blk 46 Holland Drive
Hours: 8.30am – 7.30pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
RedRing Wanton Mee, Coffeeshop at Blk 217, Bedok North Street 1 #01-77
Hours: 8.30am – 8.30pm (Closed on Tuesdays)