1. Mak Man King and his wife, Hung Siu Hor, taken in the present site in Parkes Street in 1958.
2. Wonton noodles in soup ＄21
The wonton can fit into one’s mouth. The whole prawn in each wonton can give a richer texture than minced prawn meat. No pork is used in the filling. It is the prawn which gives the wonton its luscious taste.
3. Dry noodles with shrimp eggs $32
The shrimp eggs are savoury but not stinky. The colour and texture are only made possible by an experienced cook.
4. Noodles with shredded pork and hoisin sauce $32
The shrimp eggs are savoury but not stinky. The colour and texture are only made possible by an experiHoisin sauce is usually made with ketchup, chili and chili sauce. But the hoisin sauce in MMK is not just sweet, unlike that in other restaurants. It is excitingly spicy.enced cook.
5. Knuckles and bean curd “cheese”, red fermented $38/large
Introduced only in the early 1990s, the knuckles are stewed with Zhejiang red fermented bean curd “cheese” to give a fresh and attractive colour. The taste is neither too rich or too light and the texture is crunchy. They are not greasy and can be served without the noodles.
6. The small noodle restaurant looks like any other noodle restaurants.
However, the classic red fonts on the white background and the golden fonts on the silver background have become MMK’s icons.
7. The soup is brewed mainly with flounder powder. No MSG is added.
Together with pork bone, luo han guo (Corsvenor Momordica fruit) and ham, the soup is just savoury.
8. A woman worker wraps wontons and dumplings up in the workshop at regular intervals every day. She can make at least 2000 of them daily.
9. Chinese kale $10
The vegetables there are not cheap at all. But when you examine their quality, for example Chinese kale, you will find that MMK only offers the tender bits, cooked with noodle soup. Oyster sauce is charged separately, $1.
The famous wonton noodles in MMK originated in Mak Woon Chi's Chee Kee in Guangzhou. MMK was founded in 1957 as a mobile food stall selling wonton noodles in Temple Street and Bowring Street. It moved into its present site in Parkes Street in 1958. It has insisted on making quality noodles and refining its all-prawn wontons since its establishment. Now MMK is fifty years old. While it keeps up with times by developing a website to promote itself, it also persists in making its traditional prawn wonton noodles to attract its customers.
The relationship among Mak An Kee, Mak Man Kee and Chung Kee is complicated. But they have one thing in common - they all originated from their ancestor Mak Woon Chi. Mak Man Kee (MMK) was founded by Lesley Mak's father Mak Man King. It moved into its present site in Parkes Street in January 1958. Now Lesley and her brother Mak Chi Keung look after the management and the food production of the shop respectively. While the basic layout of the shop on the ground floor has not undergone great change, the function of the upper floor has changed from a staff dormitory to a workshop where noodles and wontons are made. The quality of its food is always high.
Wontons with no pork
The very special thing about the wontons in MMK is that they do not contain pork. The prawn wonton is a must-try item. Lesley said, "One could put the whole wonton into one's mouth. Now we have enlarged the wonton by 20% so that it can fit into the mouth even better. " MMK once used minced prawn meat as the filling in the 1980s and 1990s, but the texture was not as rich as using whole prawns. Prawn wontons are neither too soft or too stiff. They can stand for a longer time without becoming mushy. Wontons without pork do not mean they contain merely a prawn. They are also filled with powdered fried flounder and shrimp eggs so that the flavour can be further enhanced.
Each wonton is wrapped with a piece of delicate wrapper made freshly by the noodle maker every day. The shop sells over ten boxes of 200 wontons, i.e. over 2000 wontons, on weekdays and one-third more on holidays. This quantity is enormous compared with restaurants which produce ping-pong sized wontons. The alkaline noodles (yes, alkaline noodles, but the amount of alkaline used is carefully regulated and the noodles are allowed to stand in room temperature for at least half a day so that the noodles do not give any alkaline flavour) are al dente. The soup, which is brewed with flounder, luo han guo (Corsvenor Momordica fruit), ham and pig bones for more than six hours, is very rich in taste.
A more diversified menu
The long-established MMK still adheres to its old operation ideals. No staff have to pay for their meals in the shop. Even the least experienced staff member has worked there for more than ten years. Their practical knowledge contributes to the high standard we enjoy. MMK has been introducing more and more items into its menu.
“We used to have around ten items only, like the more common items including wonton noodles, dumpling noodles, dry noodles with shrimp eggs and noodles with shredded pork and Chinese barbecue sauce. In the recent decade we have introduced new items like noodles with knuckles, roast pork and tender beef,” Lesley said. The manually made dry noodles with shrimp eggs, noodles with shredded pork by Chef Kwok and noodles with knuckles stewed with Zhejiang red fermented bean curd “cheese” have all become very popular among gourmets. It is interesting to note that their vegetables are served with a small dish of Tuen Mun Sauce Factory oyster sauce, which costs one dollar. This is not a way to cheat. Lesley explained with a smile, “The oyster sauce is optional. One could choose to eat without it. My mother said it is more democratic.”
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