Follow and subscribe to DayakDaily on Telegram for faster news updates.
By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, Nov 22: While Sarawakians will always have their local favourites, dishes from West Malaysia have also found a following here.
Among them is the Kuala Lumpur (KL) style Hokkien char mee (Hokkien fried noodles).
The dish, which features thick yellow noodles fried and coated in a dark, savoury sauce, is a popular dish in the Klang Valley, but much to the distress of local foodies here, is not usually available in local eateries.
However, I chanced upon a delectable version during a recent visit to a stall in Kota Sentosa town at 7th Mile here.
The stall belongs to young chef, Ho Tien Shia, who is trained in the culinary arts.
It took a while before we could talk, as a steady stream of orders kept Ho busy cooking up a variety of noodle dishes offered at his stall for customers. The constant clank of his cooking utensils hitting the sides of his wok over a roaring gas fire was an audible testament to the demand for his dishes.
As I waited for my chance to interview Ho, I sipped my cup of coffee and observed customers placing orders in person and food delivery personnel picking up packed orders from the stall.
I could also see Ho’s helper busy serving plates of Hokkien fried noodles to various seated customers.
I came to the conclusion that Ho’s Hokkien Mee had found a place among customers and his regulars.
It was almost midmorning before I could introduce myself to Ho to learn more about him and the KL style Hokkien fried noodles that he served.
Hailing from Sarikei, Ho told the writer that he had always been interested in cooking since he was young and wanted to make a profession of it.
He revealed that his family is not in the culinary profession but nevertheless supported his interest.
“So I packed my bags and enrolled in a culinary school in Kuala Lumpur. I completed and obtained my diploma in 2011,” he revealed.
“Before completing my diploma, I did an internship at a hotel in Langkawi and learned the culinary trade.
“It is all about gaining practical knowledge in the culinary world, and it has guided me through my journey to where I am today,” added Ho.
He disclosed that after completing his studies, he went to work in a hotel in Singapore for a year between 2012-2013.
“Then, before I came back to Kuching, I stayed in Kuala Lumpur for a while and learned how food sellers in the city cooked many types of dishes.
“I tried all sorts of dishes, and one of them is KL style Hokkien fried noodles. That is how I learned to make KL style Hokkien fried noodles. I continue to try making it as perfect as I can,” he added.
“Initially, when I started with my fry station at the stall, I was more focused on Foochow noodles and other noodle dishes.
“But since my wife is a West Malaysian, she suggested I do KL style Hokkien fried noodles, and so I included it in my menu at the stall,” he said.
Ho confessed he was surprised that his KL style Hokkien noodles has attracted food lovers in the city.
“I am pleased that customers knew my stall and like the dish. It is different, but it is fried noodles after all and we Malaysians love noodle dishes.
“Yes, there are indeed not many stalls that offer this dish, but here people are used to other local noodles like Kolo Mee and Kampua Mee,” he added.
Ho, who started his fry station in 2014 at Kota Sentosa get his thick yellow Hokkien noodles from a local noodle supplier.
“I asked the noodle supplier to make thicker egg noodles for me, and I have no problem in getting my supply of fresh noodles,” he said.
He explained that the size of the noodle is thicker than the usual yellow noodles as this is a unique feature of Hokkien noodles.
“On the hilarious side, some customers feel a bit creeped out when eating the noodles because it can feel like eating fat earthworms. But once you dig in and have a mouthful, I bet you will love this delectable dish,” he shared.
He explained that the noodle dish is very popular in Klang Valley and Kuala Lumpur and can trace its origins to the Fujian (Hokkien) province in China.
“There are a few variants, but I do KL style Hokkien char mee. I fry the thick yellow noodles with rich, dark soya sauce and slices of pork or chicken, squid, prawns and cabbage.
“I then sprinkle the dish with small cubes of fatty pork. The dish is a bit savoury-sweet (due to the caramelised soya sauce) and delectable to the palate,” explained Ho when describing the taste of the dish.
To try Ho’s KL style Hokkien fried noodles in person, head over to Hao Jing Cafe at Kota Sentosa town at 7th Mile. It operates daily between 6.30am to 1pm except on Mondays. For inquiries, call 010-225 1019. — DayakDaily