Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kon Low Mee (or Dry Wan Tan Mee)

Awww yeah. Check that out. One of my top favourite foods in the world ever. I know it as the Kon Low Mee but you regularly find it in menus here as 'Dry Wan Tan Mee' or sometimes more horrendously, 'Mushroom Noodle Soup (Dry)'. I fucking hate that '(Dry)' thing especially when the dish is a soup. I mean. Be honest about it the damn dish is what I say. This is what my grandmother used to cook every time we went back to Kuantan for Chinese New Year. Fat little shit that I was, I was always asking her to cook it for me. I could eat it whether it was morning, noon or night. And managed to score that once or twice over a week.
The best ones are found at those really Chinese areas where everybody speaks Cantonese. Where the waiter after taking your order bellows it out to his stall at the other end of the room. The ease with which they attain such vocal volume levels was frighteningly impressive. Imagine how loud he would be if he really wanted to be loud! Now it should come out something like what I have shown up there. The noodles must be bundled up in the middle and not mixed too much. The noodles also much be stringy but firm. The bottom of the plate must have lots of sauce. Enough to wet and blacken the noodles too. Properly, we should be the ones to mix it so that we can get the consistency that we want in our noodles. I like mine as dark as can be. So I soak mine up as much as possible. Usually throwing some of the attendant soup also keeps a ready pool of sauce going.
I usually take mine with a portion of steamed chicken with it. Occasionally I go with the duck. Not because I don't like duck but because the ducks we have here are too scrawny to be tasty - unlike those Chinese Restaurants in London like Four Seasons Restaurant that are fat, succulent and immensely satisfying and always worth several encores.
There is something simply sublime in that combination of noodles and the sauces with that slight bit of witness that wets your lips as you slurp it down or bite it off properly. And the soup is also important. Good soup can enhance the sauces on the plate and create more sauce as it mixes with the previous mixture. Naturally it would also be a good accompaniment to the noodles.
Then finally there is the won ton which are actually traditionally pork dumplings or these days they have chicken or prawn dumplings to go with the soup. For me. This is not terribly important. And I suppose it is a matter of conditioning since the joints where the noodles are that good would usually only have just pork balls only.
I am always on the look out for new joints. There is a good one at the hawker stall area near Hock Lees mini-market (it's a corner lot). That's a picture of theirs in fact up there - but with duck. There's also a pretty decent one near the old Paramount but those buggers only serve pork so you can cop some of the chicken from the chicken rice seller. Ingenious huh? (No, not really). Koon Kei used to be one of the best Kon Low Mee ever before sometime in the eighties. They were big. Had a whole shop lot to themselves in Damansara Utama (or what is now known as Uptown). Now they've scattered to one branch in Damansara Jaya, which is a real disappointment, and similarly near Petaling Street.
That is the Chinese Kon Low Mee. The Malays have understood that some of us dig that shit as well and went all halal on it. So now you have instead of the usual char siew (barbecued pork on it with its traditional white meat and faint pink colouring at the edges), you have the 'chicken char siew'. Which is pretty good too. And the Malay Kon Low Mee also is usually sweeter which is natural seeing as how Malays usually like their food with a bit of sweetness around the edges. They two therefore cannot be sensibly compared because they cater to different tastes. I enjoy both but naturally enjoy the original one better.


art harun said...

Shit! I was reading this stuff from my PDA while stuck in a traffic jam this morning and I was overcome by this urge to eat the succulent duck and that one tonne mee. Both of these are my fav. Peking duck, especially, is my hot fav. I am salivating now, just thinking about it. Dang!

the Anomaly said...

Aaah, our food/restaurant review section...

hey, the "ngak fan" in Bayswater is pretty mouthwatering too. what say you we all go for peking duck lunch at our next luncheon. Its my turn to treat this time. where is the best peking duck served? i'm talking about KL ok .... need to get back to office after that unless one of you have a private jet ... yes, i know you can drive very fast Art but ....