Kuala Lumpur - Fabulous Noodles at Mun Wah Hokkien Mee (文华福建面家)
Mun Wah (founded 1960) is one of KL's most famous Hokkien noodles spot. In the past decades, there'd been as many fans as detractors - many lamenting Mun Wah's "eroded standards". "Bland", "lacking the 'wok hei' aroma", "too watery" and "way too over-rated" were the various complaints I'd heard.
Ironically, many of these complainants willingly endured up to an hour's wait for their plate of noodles, as hordes of Hokkien noodle fans swarmed the little restaurant's grimy premises on busy Jalan Maharajalela (Birch Road), which looked rather worse for wear.
Anyway, I found out the secret to getting really *good*, aromatic, perfectly-fried Hokkien noodles at Mun Wah - come early! Yep, most KL denizens equated fried Hokkien noodles as a late-night "supper dish". We, on the other hand, arrived there at 7.30pm this evening. That's when the two middle-aged Chinese-Malaysian chefs were sitting around, twiddling their thumbs whilst the 4-5 waiters/waitresses looked pretty idle & relaxed, before the late-evening dinner rush.
We placed our order: one plate of Hokkien noodles, one plate of stir-fried "tung hoon" (thin, transparent mung-bean noodles or "glass noodles", as they call it in Australia, reminded my aunt), and a plate of fried fish-cakes.
The Hokkien noodles came first, hardly 5 minutes later. It was incredible - fragrant, with just the right consistency and moistness. The pork, pig's liver, shrimps and lardons complemented the noodles perfectly.
The stir-fried "tung hoon" (粉絲) which came next was even better - with crunchy beansprouts, dried shrimps, fresh shrimps, pork and julienned vegetables. It had a sharp, assertive flavor which was lighter than the Hokkien noodles' thick, soy-lard-accented taste. It was the Yin to the Hokkien noodles' Yang.
The much-vaunted (highly recommended by me friend, anyway) fried fish cake was a bit of a let-down though. It was spongey and stretchy. But the sweet Thai-style chilli sauce was very nice.
It was a good meal. But my top choice for KL Hokkien noodles so far, after trying a whole plethora of eateries from top-class restaurants to old road-side stalls, would still have to be Reunion at Bangsar Village 2:
Mun Wah Hokkien Mee 文华福建面家
55, Jalan Maharajalela
50150 Kuala Lumpur
Heh. So there!...to the nay-sayers? :-)
Interesting observation about 'going early' - would that be applicable to other KL-HM places as well? OTOH, it does raise issues of consistency and/or slipping-under-pressure (understandable).
Both noodle dishes look fabulous. The KL-HM, though, looks as if the noodles were "broken up" rather than being the usual long strands?
That "fun see" ("tung hoon") dish - Mmmm...I am reminded of that batch of my version of "Ants on a Tree" I made not so long ago. Must make another batch. Or take a stab at what you had.
I assume your aunt is enjoying the food (and her stay).
The place itself? Heh - I suspect some CHers (but not me) would be alarmed at viewing the last picture you post and might have misgivings about eating at such a place. :-D
Issues of consistency - precisely! Many KL noodle fans had complained about Mun Wah's lack of consistency. I guess the chefs' nerves must have frayed under pressure when there were too many orders - leading them to shorten the frying time, rushed in seasoning their food, thereby producing inferior quality end-products.
The restaurant's grimy conditions did not seem to deter true-blue foodies - there were a couple of middle-aged Canadian women seated at the next table to us - they came all the way for a taste of Mun Wah's Hokkien noodles, too :-)