You are what you eat.
Then I'm only half the man I used to be.
Those days, the renowned KL-style Hokkien Mee was braised to a consistency of dripless, sticky combination of lard and dark soy sauce, with every bite bursting with the immense aroma of fried shallots, garlic and dried flatfish powder. Thick egg noodles had taste and golden lard cubes, fried to crispy perfection, would crack and combust in the mouth a redolence that's second to none. These two ingredients feel so bland and mass-produced these days that I wonder if people still give a damn anymore. Has the society redefined Hokkien Mee? It is now simply known as stir-fried noodles with dark soy sauce? Charcoal or not, that waft of wok hei would seal the deal with a big grin as we wipe that smearing of lard oil off our lips before sipping a small cup of strong Chinese tea. I'd always leave the table as happy and as inspired as ever, knowingly or not.
I feel sorry for the generation that didn't get to taste the real thing. Sure, you get your so-called Hokkien Mee as you sit comfortably in proper, air-conditioned restaurants or at the convenience of the after-party hours but really, unless Hokkien mee is of sustenance than substance to you, then I don't think you'll feel satiated at the end of the meal. More so if your chilli boh is tastelessly naked. I confess that I do sound like a broken record, especially on the topic of Hokkien Mee. Whatever. I used to roll my eyes every time the older relatives eagerly tell me the same story of their lives; from the junks that carried them from mainland China to that bowl of noodles that used cost a mere 5 cents. But now, I can somehow understand this habit of repeating old stories. These are priceless experiences that can never be felt again and the closest one can get to it is through reminiscence. And that's exactly how I try to relive a childhood of really good, authentic Hokkien Mee.
On to Mun Wah. Triple parking, spilling crowd and bland Hokkien Mee. Sorry, but despite the efficient service, this is an example of Hokkien Mee that makes me half the happy man (or boy) I used to be. I don't even see the need to deconstruct the dish for the purpose of discussion here.
Note - it's never a good thing to pre-cook a wokful of Hokkien Mee and reheat it in another wok when needed. As a Hokkien Mee fan, I find it insulting.
Kedai Makanan Mun Wah Hokkien Mee
155, Jalan Maharajalela,
50150 Kuala Lumpur