July 8, 2014

Wonton Noodles Mobile Hawker Stall 雲吞麵小販攤檔

hawker, hong kong, Mobile, noodles, Stall, Wonton, 小販, 攤檔, 雲吞, 麵,
One side for making the wonton and storing food supplies and eating implements,
the other side for the broth filled cooking pot and the charcoal brazier beneath

It often fascinates me how much the world has changed in the last, say, six to seven decades.  That sounds like a long time but it really isn't, it encompasses the lives that my parents grew up living (which doesn't really exist anymore.)  Thru the advent of modern technology and science, etc., the world has really changed so much that many of the older generation, like my dear 爸爸, are often times at a loss to cope.  

For myself it's a different kind of problem, I often find a hopeless grey fog in front of me when I try to imagine or reconstruct the way that things used to be done in the past.  I mean how the hell did things get done before the invention of machines that churn out endlessly to meet our every need nowadays?

How, for example, did people make ice cream before ice cream machines?  Or even before electricity for heck sake?!  With such thoughts often in the back of my mind, I was pleasantly surprised the other day when we stumbled upon a display of an old time 1940's Wonton Noodles Mobile Hawker Stall, or  雲吞麵小販攤檔.

hawker, hong kong, Mobile, noodles, Stall, Wonton, 小販, 攤檔, 雲吞, 麵, vintage
The brass pot for the cooking of wontons and noodles

We discovered this beautiful Wonton Noodle Mobile Hawker Stall display at Wong Chi Kei 黃枝記麵家, an wonton noodle shop with a long history in Macau (now opened in Hong Kong also).  They are not only quite famous for their tasty noodles, but also for their noodle production technique using the bamboo stick.

The Hawker stall was a revelation in many ways.  First of all was the beautiful construction and spare, efficiently functional design.  Lovely jointed wood and shining brass pots.  Each drawer and space was carefully designated so that all the stages of the wonton noodles process from the making of wonton to the cooking to the serving to the customers was catered for.  It not only worked to a tee but was also quite beautiful.  

This Wonton Noodle Mobile Hawker Stall reminded me of some of a noodle street stall that I had patronized while eating noodles in Japan: traditionally beautiful and yet exceptionally functional.  Traditional style operating in modern mode, why not?  I just wish that we Chinese could embrace this concept more fully.

hawker, hong kong, Mobile, noodles, Stall, Wonton, 小販, 攤檔, 雲吞, 麵, vintage
A photo of a real Wonton Noodles Mobile Hawker!

The other revelation I had was that this mobile hawker stall seemed very heavy!  I think that these two cabinets were balanced on a pole over the hawker's shoulder whenever he needed to move along.  Pretty hard and heavy work, eh?  All the wood and the wonton soup in the pot and the charcoal brazier below the pot, etc.  And don't forget the weight of the porcelain dishes and spoons (this is before plastic!)

hawker, hong kong, Mobile, noodles, Stall, Wonton, 小販, 攤檔, 雲吞, 麵, vintage

So Wonton Noodles was originally a street snack!   And only evolved into a shop entity over the passage of the years.  I thought it especially interesting about the Wonton Noodle operators singing 'wonton songs' to attract and call their customers.  That's so much more interesting and involved than looking at some ad or watching a commercial.   

Imagine this: You're at home and the singing drifts in the window, you raise your head and smile in recognition and hunger, grope about for the correct change and down you go to the street were the wonton hawker smiles and asks you about your day before passing you your steaming hot fragrant bowl of wonton noodles.  And of course it's really, really good Wonton Noodles cuz you wouldn't patronize his hawker stall if it wasn't the best.  Ah, those were the days, eh?

Best wonton noodle film scene ever!!   Check out this clip from Wong Kar Wai's movie In the Mood for Love.  This guaranteed to make you hungry for a bowl of wonton noodles scene takes place in the 1960's:

Tip:  If you want to see this Wonton Noodles Mobile Hawker Stall for yourself, it's at Wong Chi Kei 15B Wellington Street, Central HK.  I think it's a permanent installation.  And while you're there you might as well treat yourself to a delicious bowl of wonton noodles!

Tip 2:  Check out more info on bamboo stick noodle production at our Shrimp Roe Noodle recipe post.

Tip 3:  Want to know the answer to how ice cream was made before machines?  Check out any of our delicious ice cream recipes!



  1. I have memories of a summer spent in HK as a child, waking up with my cousins and going downstairs to the open air food market to have hot, slurpy bowls of wonton mein with a huge dollop of chili sauce. Slurping up the hot wonton mein and sweating away in +30C humidity all the while adding more chili sauce.

    1. Thank you for sharing the wonderful memory! Your words were so evocative I could almost see it...like the beautiful opening sequence of a movie about HK in times past... ~ellen