A new lease of life
After a 21-year hiatus, Megan Wong has revived her parents’ culinary legacy at Pudu Chan Fatt Wanton Mee.
GROWING up, Megan Wong has vivid memories of her parents’ wantan mee shop, strategically located near the Pudu market. Opened in 1955 by her migrant father Wong Poon and his wife Lee Yit Yee, the shop was the family’s stomping ground during their formative years.
“There are seven of us siblings and I am the youngest. At that time, all of us had to be in the shop, helping my parents – even over the weekends, because the weekends were the busiest period. “When I was younger, I didn’t cook, but I was responsible for wrapping hundreds of dumplings a day. As I grew up, I learnt how to cook all the food my parents sold,” she says.
Wong’s father came here from China and learnt the art of making wantan mee from a local sifu, who taught him how to make the springy, bouncy noodles from scratch, kneading and rolling the flour with the aid of heavy bamboo poles.
It was tough, strenuous work but after he met and married fruit-seller Lee, the two made a go of the business and orders kept coming in, especially from the vegetable and meat sellers in the market, who hankered after their noodles and handmade sui kow (meat dumplings).
Wong’s parents did well enough off their wantan mee business to put all seven of their children through university (two of them were even sent abroad).
Eventually, all the children had their own careers – Wong became an accountant, while some of her brothers became engineers and businessmen.
Her two sisters eventually settled in Australia.
In 1996, her parents – by then already in their 60s, called it quits for their Pudu outlet.
Their retirement was short-lived; they didn’t enjoy sitting around doing nothing, so they decided to open a small stall selling the same fare in Taman Segar, Cheras. This lasted two years, before they finally pulled the plug on the business and settled into their retirement.
Wong’s father passed away seven years ago, when he was in his 90s, but her mother (who is now 90 herself ) continued to cajole her children to revive the family legacy. When Wong retired last year, her mother brought up the family business again.
“My mum said ‘Eh, since you’re retired already, why don’t you start your own business, since you have all the family recipes?’ I came up with all sorts of excuses like ‘Quite tiring, very competitive and people’s tastes have changed’. But my mum said, ‘Never mind lah, try!’ So I said ‘Okay lah, I’ll try’. That’s how I started,” says Wong.
Last month, Wong launched Pudu Chan Fatt Wanton Mee (named after her parents’ original shop) in the popular, highly-trafficked area of Damansara Uptown. Although it is miles away, both geographically and aesthetically, from the original outlet, Wong has retained and learnt all the family recipes, ensuring that the heritage fare that her parents prepared continues to live on in the present.
To get the most crucial ingredient in her restaurant – the wantan noodles – Wong shopped around until she found a supplier whose noodles most closely matched the taste and texture of her parents’ famed handmade noodles, as she couldn’t find enough skilled staff to make the noodles according to her specifications.
After opening the restaurant, she was also forced to make some revisions to the heirloom recipe for the wantan mee sauce; she says that modern tastes have evolved and many customers told her they found the sauce too bland.
“I followed my mum’s recipe closely and people said they prefer it to be sweeter. So I changed the sauce a bit,” she says.
Wong makes her sauce with a cornucopia of spices and soy sauce and
After a 21-year gap, Wong decided to revive her family’s wantan mee recipes in her brand new restaurant. — Photos: ART CHEN/The Star
Wong used to make lion head’s meatballs for her children when they were growing up and decided to add them to the menu, although they weren’t featured at the original eatery.
The char siew rice features slightly sweet rice with the restaurant’s famed charsiew pork.