Malaysian foodies no longer have to travel all the way to Hong Kong for authentic wonton noodles as Mak’s Chee – a restaurant by the descendant and third generation of Mak Woon Chee, who was dubbed as the ‘King of Wonton Noodle’ in the 1920s – is now open at 1 Utama!
With a recipe of nearly a 100 years old and decades of experience manning noodle eateries in Hong Kong, Mak’s Chee promises to deliver authentic wonton noodles originally made famous in Guangzhou, China; and leading the team at Mak’s Chee is none other than Michelin-starred chef Johnny Yu, who is the first grandchild-in-law of Mak Woon Chee.
From the age of 17, chef Johnny Yu has learned to master Mak’s wonton noodle recipe and cooking techniques under the apprenticeship of Mak En, who is his father-in-law. Now, with more than 40 years of training, chef Johnny is finally venturing into the Malaysian market with his fast casual dining restaurant with a modest yet tantalising menu.
Unlike other wonton available in Malaysia that come with a pork filling, Mak’s Chee is famous for its gold fish-shaped fresh prawn wonton. The egg noodles from Mak’s Chee on the other hand are extremely thin and springy, which is pretty much incomparable to that of the wonton noodles we Malaysians are used to having.
On top of the prawn wonton, Mak’s Chee also offers its special herb blended dumplings (sui kau), braised beef brisket, prawn roe and savoury rich broth to go with its egg noodles, which are carefully made with high quality flour, golden duck eggs and Mak’s Chee’s unique noodle-making techniques as well as special tools.
During our first visit to Mak’s Chee, we were very surprised to find out that everything on the menu was reasonably priced. In Hong Kong, one bowl of Mak’s Chee wonton noodle would cost about HK$48 whereas in Malaysia, the same bowl of wonton noodle is only RM12.90 a pop. For an iconic Michelin-starred restaurant, that’s pretty darn cheap!
To ensure that the food is as authentic as it can be, chef Johnny and his team have spent months sourcing for premium Malaysian ingredients to be incorporated into the offerings at Mak’s Chee. The fresh prawns for instance, are sourced directly from East Malaysia.
Having said that, chef Johnny is persistent about certain ingredients that, according to his words, are simply not on par with those found in Hong Kong. This includes the prawn roe, flounder fish and many more accompanying condiments as well as ingredients, such as the soy sauce, black pepper and many others. The vast majority of the ingredients used at Mak’s Chee are still flown over from Hong Kong.
Right as we walked into Mak’s Chee, we also noticed a solo dining area that is similar to that of many ramen shops seen along the bustling streets in Japan. Similar to Japan, the solo dining area will cater to those who prefer to dine in complete privacy and to fill the void for customers who feel uncomfortable eating by themselves at a multi-seater table.
When the prawn wonton noodle arrived at our table, it looked rather ordinary, but that’s just how it is served in Hong Kong. There were five prawn wonton which were rather large in size, and they proved to be juicy and flavourful. The egg noodles were firm and springy, offering a substantial bite to them and we really enjoyed that. It’s safe to say that this is THE real deal!
Customers would have the option to choose from the regular thin noodles, thick noodles or the hor fun, and you’d be free to select different toppings to go with your noodles. One of these toppings is the braised five spice beef brisket and tendons, which we ordered a side dish. This was lovely. The tendon and brisket were cooked to perfection – tender and moist yet still hold a firm texture. The gravy on the other hand was richly flavoured and with every bite, we could taste the different spice components that make up the tasty gravy.
Another one of Mak’s Chee’s signature dishes is the prawn roe noodle and according to the Director of Mak’s Chee, Gary Crestejo, the prawn roe used at Mak’s Chee is of the highest grade and is only found in this specific source in China. We thought that this dish had a strong seafood umami flavour and subtle crunch thanks to the concentrated prawn roe and albeit lacking in the presentation department, this was easily our favourite dish of the evening.
Aside from the egg noodles and other toppings, the broth that accompanies the noodles is also paid a lot of attention at Mak’s Chee. We mentioned earlier that the flounder fish is one of the ingredients that are imported from Hong Kong and if you’re wondering where this fish comes into play, it’s actually in the broth. Gary mentioned specifically that the soup is cooked for hours with flounder, pork bones and prawn roe, giving it a hearty but mild taste that doesn’t outshine other offerings in a bowl of noodle.
If you’re a fan of wonton noodle or you simply miss Hong Kong’s wonton noodle style, drop by Mak’s Chee and you won’t be disappointed. We can finally say that we have authentic Hong Kong wonton noodle in our country, and it’s just right around the corner if we need our fix. It’s a no-frills dining restaurant that’s quick and accessible; and the best part is that we can savour Michelin-starred food for less than RM20. (Y)
Visit Mak’s Chee at 1 Utama (Lot LG 311D, opposite Cold Storage) to get yourself some authentic Hong Kong wonton noodles! PS: Do take note that there’s always a line outside the restaurant during lunch/dinner hours.