There are four distinct features: First, the wontons are predominantly prawn, with low amounts of pork mince, or no pork at all. Second, aficionados will insist on fresh, smooth thin noodles which are al dente, free from the taste and odor which is characteristic in many egg noodles when cooked. Third, the bouillon is light brown (prepared from dried flounder) and is usually steaming hot. Lastly, garlic chives are used as a garnish. The first two give the dish a wet but crunchy or crispy mouthfeel. The last two give the dish a unique bouquet.
In order to ensure that the noodles are perfectly al dente and free from "noodley" taste, the cooking process and sequence must be meticulously adhered to. The wonton is cooked first, and then placed in the bowl. The noodles are blanched for only 10 seconds, after which they are rinsed under cold water and placed in the serving bowl. Piping hot bouillon is then scooped into the bowl, on top of the wonton noodles. The bouillon must be tasty, yet not so strong as to overpower the delicate taste of the wonton and the noodles which it is meant to accompany.
When served, the spoon must be placed at the bottom, with the wontons above the spoon and the noodles on top. Because if the noodles soak in the soup for too long then it will be over cooked, this is strictly adhered to by the best wonton noodle establishments.
Although the "wonton noodle" is synonymous with wonton and noodles served in piping hot bouillon, the dish may also be served "dry", as in lo mein (撈麵), where the wonton are placed on a large bed of noodles.
Malaysia offers different versions of the dish, with different states having different versions of the dish and there are versions from Johor, Pahang, Perak, Penang, Sarawak and Selangor. The Malaysian version differs from the original in having slices of char siu added to the dish, as well as the possibility of the soup and wontons in a separate bowl, the noodles being served relatively dry and dressed with oyster sauce.
Often served dry, the Hong Kong version can be found at Cantonese noodle joints with it being dry or soup. In Malacca, wontons are placed together with the noodles and wonton soup can be ordered separately.
Fried wanton (wanton deep fried in oil) are sometimes served instead of the usual ones, as a variation to the popular dry wanton noodles. Usually mayonaise sauce is served with the fried wantons.