What Mee?

by Audrey Lim, Aug 29, 2001 | Destinations: Malaysia / Kuala Lumpur

I don't know about other parts of the world as well as I know my own country, but if you are looking for a place with a huge variety of noodles/mee, it has got to be Malaysia. Basically, the staple food in Malaysia is rice and to many, noodles as well. Of course, we also have some occasional 'traitors' who swear by McDonald's or other form of international cuisine. However, if you're Malaysian, there is no way you can escape the delicious "melting pot"?

So what do you do if the thought of rice turns you off? Turn to noodles. You can get a dozen different types of noodles in this country (and more). From the variety of noodles available, you can again concoct more than a dozen recipes with amazing effect. Here's a lil' guide on noodles and what you can make out of it!

Bee Hoon (similar to Mee Fun)
This type of noodle is also known as rice noodles and is like vermicelli. It is best served with piping hot chicken stock soup. Throw in some shredded meat and/or fishballs for added taste. Bee Hoon is yummy with a dash of cili padi (chili) in soy sauce. Alternatively, opt for the dry version of this noodle that is mixed with dark soy sauce and shredded meat.

Kuey Teow (similar to Hor Fun)
Keuy Teow is a type of flat noodles that is comparable to the Italian tagliatelle. It has a white colored texture and is quite smooth and slippery. Any novice with the chopsticks might have problems picking up the noodles. Keuy Teow is my favorite noodle as it can be used to make a variety of dishes, which incidentally are also my favorite food. The most common way keuy teow noodle is used is in one of Malaysia's most popular dish, Char Kuey Teow. Char Kuey Teow is made from the noodle combined with prawns, Chinese sausage, fishcake, egg, vegetable, chili and cockles. The whole combination is then fried in high heat until it turns really aromatic. Just the mere smell from the wok can make you drool. Besides frying the noodles, keuy teow can also be used in soup-based noodles just like how you would with Bee Hoon as mentioned above. Sar Hor Fun is another way to prepare the hor fun noodles. This is a specialty in Ipoh Town and is best served with chicken stock soup, prawns, fried shallots and bean sprouts.

Foochow Noodles
Foochow noodles are not so common although the few places that serve them have very good ones. It is generally recommended to eat these type of noodles steamed and served with soy and oyster sauce. Add in a sprinkle of spring onions and dried fish for effect! I also know of another place that serves what they call the "Foochow Red Wine Noodles". The restaurant is located in Jalan Yew, Kuala Lumpur and the proprietor can whip up a delicious bowl of red wine noodles in a jiffy. This noodle is also known as Tai Ping noodles. As the name suggest, the noodles are red in color but contain no artificial ingredients.

Now. This is the fun part. Yellow Mee is a name I coin for this specific type of noodle. Different people name it differently. If roughly translated from the Chinese language to English, you have a variety of names. Some calls it the "big fat noodles" (tai look min), some (like me) calls it "yellow mee" whilst there are some that calls it "fat mee". Why the names? Basically, this is the usual round yellow noodle that looks like spaghetti (fatter though) and is made from wheat flour. It has a smooth texture and is best used in Hokkien Fried Mee. Hokkien Fried Mee is really delicious and is fried with pieces of pork, prawn and vegetables. Eat it with some chili paste for the oomph effect! A word of advice though! The Hokkien Fried Mee is not for everyone. Health-conscious folks should stay away from it as most chefs normally add in a spoonful of pork rind for that "smooth, oily (and guilty)" feel.

Laksa Noodles
Laksa noodle is a type of thick rice noodles that is opaque in color and slightly rough in texture. It can be made into a variety of laksa-based dishes including curry laksa, assam laksa, Sarawak laksa and lots more. It is a very famous dish in Malaysia and the curry laksa is served with bean sprouts, fishcakes, and prawns in a spicy coconut soup. Some add in slices of hardboiled egg as well. Assam laksa is a must-try. Made from a thick rich fish broth, shredded cucumber, assam and onion, the assam laksa has a distinctive tangy and sourish taste that is absolutely heavenly! You have got to try the rest of the laksa dishes available.

Won Ton Mee
Won Ton Mee is another common meal in Malaysia. Many people enjoy it for breakfast. A light meal, won ton mee is made with roast pork, the won ton noodles, and vegetables. The dry version comes with a bowl of light soup with dumplings. The soup-based won ton mee has the dumplings along with your bowl of noodles.

Mee Goreng
Mee goreng (Indian fried noodle) is another form of yellow noodles but is much thinner than the big fat ones. It is almost always used by the Indians to make the famous mee goreng. The dish is fried with chili, vegetables, egg, onion, fried tofu and slices of tomato. It is normally quite oily but delicious all the same.

Loh Shue Fan
This is another of my favorite noodle. Loh shue fan got its name from its shape, which resembles that of a rat's tail. It is clear white in color and has a slippery texture. Loh Shue Fan is very yummy and can be used in a variety of ways including eating it 'wet' with chicken stock soup (just like you would with bee hoon) or 'dry' with shredded pork/meat. Loh Shue Fan is also delicious when cooked in a claypot. Cook it with shredded meat and dark soy sauce, and top it off with an uncooked egg. Mixed all of that together while the claypot is still steaming hot and you'll be in gourmet heaven!

Pan Mee
Pan mee is a type of noodle that is handmade from kneaded flour. You can have the pan mee in dry or wet versions as well. The dry version is my favorite and is mixed with dark soy sauce, fried anchovies, vegetables, shredded meat, and Chinese mushroom. There are two ways of 'processing' this type of noodle. Firstly, the chef can break the knead dough into bite size by pulling at it and dropping it into hot boiling water. Alternatively, he can also use a noodle processor to slice the noodles into thin strips.

Hakka Mee
I used to like hakka mee until recently. Reason being, I can't seemed to find any stalls or restaurants selling good hakka mee anymore. Hakka mee is flat and yellow in color. The stall that I used to get my weekly dose of hakka mee serves the noodles with shredded chicken meat, braised pork with wood ear mushroom and dumplings. It is superb!

Yee Mee
This is another form of noodle that is famously cooked and served in a claypot. Alternatively, it can be fried to a crunchy serving with thick egg gravy poured over it. This egg noodle is absolutely delicious and can be found all over Kuala Lumpur.

What Mee?
Aside from all I've mentioned above, there are still a lot more noodles that I am not particularly fond of but let's not judge it based on my likes or dislikes. You may want to check out the kang puan mee, which is a specialty in the town of Sibu. It is a type of noodles cooked in lard (!!!). Then we also have mee suah (flour vermicelli), which is basically a type of noodles served dry and crispy. Then there is the Seremban noodle. It is a unique form of noodles that can only be obtained in Seremban town, although many are imitating it in Kuala Lumpur as well.

So, if you're in Malaysia any time soon and can't exactly figure out what you want to eat, you may want to try out the many types of noodles available. If the Italians have their spaghetti and fettuccini, then we Malaysians have our mee and bee hoon! Bon appetit!