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When I was a kid, my mum loved to take me Rua da Palha for shopping, and bought a huge bag of dried wonton wrappers to make a decent family dessert after dinner.

I don’t think the younger generations heard about “dried wonton skin”. Last week, my homie queen majesty was nagging for a decent wonton skin sweet dessert. I went several shops and couldn’t find the exact old style “dried” wonton skin; Went through the three lantern place, non of the traditional noodle making shop willing to make such items. Until I popped into the last shop without hope, an kind old boss advises me I should go Rua de Cinco de Outubro, close to “San Ma Lou”.

Under the hot summer days, I spotted at Cinco Outubro … and finally found the dried wonton skin! Hei Lam Mun, opened back in 1958, located at the most busiest street for shopping and stuff, particularly back in the 80s, was its prime times. Almost every households would reach there buying their daily necessities. Dry noodles are one of the most popular stored food item, like a “must have instant noodle” kept in the kitchen’s cupboard. It can store long time and fill up your tummy fairly easily, plus the price is extremely cheap.

Why Wonton wrappers so authentic

By the way to mention here – Dried wonton wrappers are the chopped and remained noodle making part. Each piece comes in irregular sizes, the trimmed wonton edges cannot be packaged nor sold. So most of the leftovers are left dried overnight, sprinkled with dry powder, and packaged up for sale. The price is relatively cheap and ensure not be wasted. These “unwanted recycled items” have changed to “most adorable desserts”. They are as smooth as silky, texture like fish maw when they are eaten. If you like it, add egg flower flakes and two slices of ginger in brown sugar boiling water. It is just simply the most delicious dessert in this planet!

Back in poverty times

During the 70s and 80s, many Chinese families make these kind of chinese syrup soup; they even used cut bread crusts, or chinese donuts overnight leftovers, as core ingredients. Since wonton skin is dried under the sun a day or so, it is not deep-fried and healthy indeed. Putting two slices of ginger can drive away the excessive gas inside the body. It is nutritious and suitable for all age range. It is one of the best favorite dessert for many housewives in the past days. Nowadays, many people became wealthy, gradually less people appreciates the head to toe flour residuals that stayed overnight, re-use and boiled them up again. I haven’t heard of such old-style syrup soup for decades, until it only mentioned from my mum.

In addition to the dried wanton skin, Hei Lam Mun Noodle shop is also famous for its noodles. One bowl and a half of water with a noodle, loosen it all up with chopsticks, and you can eat it immediately. Some noodles already have flavor in it, such as fish soup, shrimp, spinach, etc. Just simply pick it up after boiling and eat instantly. Just like Japanese other instant noodles, you can eat it in 3 minutes. If you like stir dried-noodles, the soy sauce weight portion is the key, just a little bit on top is enough.

A heart-wrenching taste of nostalgic noodles

At present, the varieties sold in Hei Lam Mun can be divided into seven categories – Alkaline water noodle eggs, fish meat, scallops, shrimp, chicken soup, and spinach. Each has its own specific fragrance. One of the biggest features is that it has a limited shelf life. Recommended to be eaten within three months after purchase. All noodles are cooked and dried with water without adding preservatives. They are healthy to a certain extent. It tastes gluten while eating, but it is also soft and elastic. It has a salty and savory flavor when cooked, and children will love it.

Four classic brand taste

Fish Paste Noodles

Using White Herring Fish to make the soup base, then add flour and egg white together, kneaded into dough and bring out the slight salty and fresh seafood favor.

Chicken Soup and Fish Mushroom Noodle

Chicken soup is added to the base of the fish mushroom noodle base, the taste is stronger and more layered.

Scallop noodles

Add real chopped scallops when making the dough, the classic Cantonese noodle flavor fully demonstrated.

Spinach noodles

It is made of chicken soup, spinach puree, flour and egg whites. Under no color artificial, it naturally turned into light green color and making the dough taste so delicious, with rich nutrition with fresh flavor.

I saw the homemade shrimp roe bottle near the doorway; If wish to add more flavor in your noodle purchase, grab two teaspoons on the pan dry heated, after sprinkle it on top of the cooked dried noodles. It is another superb high-quality food that would ever taste.

Duty of this old shop

At present, many local stores dealt mostly with neighborhood businesses. I believed many tourists, particularly locals, surely will return for their buying. Running a business nowadays, there’s always a shortage of manpower and constrained production line capabilities. Stepping into sixty years of existence, Hei Lam Mun had tried its best to pass on the old traditional taste recipe to the next generations like other established well known shops, hoped to run their business in the next another 60 years.

Angela Fung