Tuesday, February 3, 2009

KL Black Hokkien Mee

with Kennard, Shashi and Ray

Kuala Lumpur - foodie paradise. And some foods are unique to KL...the essential eats in the Malaysian capital include two magnificent hawker dishes - the Fukkien Chow, and the Kongfu Chow...the Hokkien Fried (Black hokkien mee) and the Cantonese Fried (the ying yang wide hor fun/kway teow and beehoon in wat tan sauce). Quintessential.

Fried on a high power, compressed air and gas fire stove, hot enough to render a wok red hot in seconds, the cooking is an art in itself...tossing, agitating, turning, flicking, stirring.

The firepower of the very hot stove provides the essential wok hei...breath of the wok...essential controlled micro-charring of the ingredients, creating a smokey flavour, a hint of burnt meat and wheat, and the beginings of a Maillard reaction on the meats.

The black hokkien mee is served:

Fat yellow noodles are used. The noodles are so fat, they look like elongated udon, but yellow from the kee and possibly eggs used to make the noodles. The black sauce is magical...it is the right balance of sweet (very slight), and salty, and crustacean flavours from the stock. Fried in pork lard, the fat supports the mouth feel very well...but the taste is not one which is greasy, but rather one of extreme smoothness, allowing the noodles to slither into the mouth. Powerful wok hei is abundant.

Crispy pork lard is sprinkled generously, ably providing crunch and texture. This particular version comes with fresh prawns, and cuts of sliced fish cake, and sliced pork. A special belachan chilli sauce provides the oomph to get an extra kick.

All in a bed of raw cabbage...which by the time one finishes the noodles, has become cooked by the heat of the noodles, and has absorbed the flavours from the sauce...Scrumptious.

This concoction, provides an impact beyond the taste. It speaks to all the senses, and engages the diner...coyly encouraging you to explore the complex, beguilling, seductive taste...the superb fragrance. As one puts a chopstick full of gravy embalmed noodles into one's mouth, the mouthfeel, the taste sensation is extraordinary. Emotionally it satisfies some hidden taste sensors...blowing the mind. Physically it satisfies...but not till one have had one's fill...this was not a dish to eat tasting portions, but a full sized portion is mandatory.

We also had the wat tan hor...or Kongfu chow.

Wat tan, meaning broken egg...an egg is stirred into the hot gravy mixture of pork, seafood and corn starch, allowing it to cook as it is being stirred...making egg strips...a beautiful thing to behold, but also packs eggy flavour to the sauce. The sauce is poured over a mixture of pre-fried hor fun...a thickly sliced fresh kway teow, and a deep fried, crispy bee hoon. As one cuts into the wat tan hor...the chop sticks meet with the crunchy, crispy bee hoon on one side, and the smooth, soft, flabby hor fun on the other. Tasty. Special for this store was the addition of huge chunks of cuttle fish. This provided a very nice touch...crunchy, springy, beautiful texture contrast to the soft kway teow, and crisp bee hoon.

There are many stores serving this combination of Fried Hokkiens and Cantonese...but not all are up to the mark. This one is quite up there amongst the stars. I do remember a store in Petaling Steet which serves up an even more delectable Hokkien Mee, and one in PJ somewhere. But most pale....and this one is easier to find for the casual visitor to KL, especially if you stay in the Golden Triangle area.

Kedai Kopi dan Makanan Weng Hing
183 Jalan Imbi
Corner of Jalan Imbi and Jalan Barat
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: lat 3.14541
long 101.714869

Photo notes: taken without flash in the evening, inside the coffee shop...lighting was dark. Shot with Kennard's Canon Ixus 40 at autoISO...for some reason, the ISO is not recorded in the camera's exif. Apologies for less than usual standard of pictures.
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