Pick Mee!!!

As I men­tioned in a pre­vi­ous post, the selec­tion of food in Malaysia, though vast and var­ied, is unde­ni­ably cen­tered around two starches: Rice (nasi) and noo­dles (mee).

After explor­ing Fort Corn­wal­lis, we very hap­pily stum­bled upon a huge out­door hawker stand com­pletely shaded by some sort mas­sive scrap metal over­hang. After cruis­ing each small cart and their respec­tive offer­ings, it was pretty obvi­ous that we were going to go for what was the most pop­u­lar and simul­ta­ne­ously the most visu­ally appeal­ing– a gen­er­ous pile of pip­ing hot noo­dles tossed in a blood red grav y.

Though it prob­a­bly would have been best to find out what was in this juicy, savory look­ing blood red gravy, the smells and sights of the dish alone reeled us in. We went ahead and sig­naled three red saucy noo­dle dishes for our table– lit­er­ally, sig­naled, as I fran­ti­cally pointed to the dishes being served to other cus­tomers and held up three fin­gers and said, “mee” while enthu­si­as­ti­cally nod­ding my head. Luck­ily there is more than one lan­guage that all food­ies under­stand, and the man behind the stall under­stood the lan­guage I was using.

Wait­ing for our dish to arrive, I started to read the notice­ably aged news clip­pings posted in the cart win­dow, where I learned that we were about to eat a big pile of sweet-spicy-sour-savory cut­tle­fish noo­dles, made by a third gen­er­a­tion Halal hawker.

Ahh, so that explained the odd phal­lic crea­ture float­ing on the sign above the hawker stall.

We perched our­selves anx­iously on a round formica table directly in front of the stall, and watched as streams of peo­ple fil­tered to and from the counter in a non­stop flow, request­ing order after order of the same dish. The noo­dles were made in batches of 8 or 10 plates at a time, with one main chef at the helm of the open gas stove and two “sous” chefs gar­nish­ing plates, run­ning orders, refill­ing the mise en place (if you will), and col­lect­ing money. There were no num­bers given to cus­tomers, no names, no tick­ets– just a nod of acknowl­edge­ment after you placed your order and a quick shout to the head chef.

We watched as the chef vig­or­ously chopped bunches of onions and greens for a quick sauté in a huge wok that looked like had been used to make this dish for decades. He threw mas­sive hand­fuls of noo­dles into the siz­zling wok, cracked dozens of eggs taken from a tower of egg crates, and squirted and poured var­i­ous sauces and oils like he was con­duct­ing a sym­phony. Chop, siz­zle, Sauté, sauté, squirt, crack, sauté, squirt, sauté, squirt. Watch­ing one…two.…three batches of noo­dles go out to tables around us, I could not help but won­der how these men kept track of who ordered what. I must admit, I began to doubt that we kept our place in the noo­dle line, but I knew bet­ter than to approach these men who were end­lessly mak­ing noo­dle dish after noo­dle dish.

But finally, we received our three orders of noo­dles pip­ing hot– fresh out of the wok and deliv­ered to us with­out any hes­i­ta­tion. Hav­ing waited for some time now, we too did not hes­i­tate as we dug in to the steamy red pile of noo­dles in front of us. At first bite, I was a lit­tle taken aback by the fishi­ness of the squid that infil­trated the entire dish.

But after a cou­ple more bites, the dish became bet­ter and bet­ter. Nuances of spici­ness and sweet­ness and hints of sour and bites of cut­tle­fish seemed to become more and more dis­tinct with each bite. Maybe we were hun­gry, maybe it really was great, maybe the antic­i­pa­tion took over or the cheap $1.30 price tag seemed to be true. But most likely, it was a com­bi­na­tion of all of the above.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge