Penang - The Legendary Indian Fried Noodles from Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng (曼谷巷印度炒面)
To me, going to try the "Mee Goreng" (Indian-style fried noodles) at Seng Lee on the corner of Bangkok Lane & Burmah Road in Georgetown is akin to making a pilgrimage of sorts to pay homage to one of Penang's oldest & most revered "food masters". The hawker food-master in this case is a 60-something-year-old Hokkien-speaking Indian-Muslim guy called Mahboob, who produces the best tasting "Mee Goreng" (印度炒面) and "Mee Rebus" (印度捞面) I'd ever tasted in my life!
Watching Mahboob and his assistant chef produced an endless train of platefuls of tasty fried noodles, spinning the red-hot cast-iron wok like a roulette wheel over high heat was simply breathtaking.
Their "Mee Goreng" fried noodles were mushy, and bursting with flavors, studded with tofu, Indian fritters (vadai), spiced squid, eggs and potato scallops.
The "Mee Rebus" or braised noodles was just as tasty - the tomato-based sauce, thickened with boiled sweet potatoes - was sweeter than the fried version. Garnished with a hard-boiled egg, and with deep-fried tofu and chopped "vadai" to provide that interesting textural contrast, it was perfect with a squeeze of lime.
A meal to-die for!! The stall was started by Mahboob's father, and it's now nearly 80 years old. Customers streamed in from 8am in the morning: Chinese, Indians, Malays - all came for a taste of Mahboob's exquisite noodles.
Seng Lee Café
270 Burma Road (corner with Bangkok Lane)
The "tomato-based sauce" for the mee rebus here – is it made using tomato ketchup or tomato paste or fresh tomatoes (no ketchup or paste) or something else?
There don't seem to be many mee rebus recipes that call for tomatoes, wondering whether whatever he uses here is part of the "extra kick" of his dish.
Yep, just reading this brings back the memories of this classic dish.
We also make the same 'pilgrimmage' to the Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng every time we make it to Penang (at least once per year). And every time it doesn't fail to delight us!
Just looking at these photo's almost makes me want to book another flight back right now :-)
Glad to hear from a kindred spirit. BTW, the *best-tasting* Mee Goreng, according to local Penangites, is Hameed's at Fort Cornwallis:
It's a bit too spicy for my taste, but maybe you can check that out the next time you're in Penang, and see how it compares to Bangkok Lane's.
That's interesting to hear... usually I have a pretty high tolerance to spice/chilli/heat so it's worth a go!
This probably deserves a separate thread but what was your view on the best Assam Laksa? We still are loyal to the infamous stall near Ayer Itam market... But it is a bit of effort to go there...
Agreed - getting to that little stall at Ayer Itam can be quite a challenge, what with clogged traffic and ensnaring one of the tables.
Strictly my *personal* preferences here - my rating of Penang assam laksa spots:
#1 Laksa Balik Pulau at Nan Guang Coffeeshop, 67 Jalan Balik Pulau. Run by brother-sister team, John & Anne Martin. They took over from original 70s cooks, Ewe Chooi Guan & his late wife, Chew Ah Yoke, inheriting the recipe as their laksa tasted *exactly* the same, as any old Penang assam laksa enthusiast will testify.
#2 Laksa Balik Pulau at Chuan Heong Café (corner of Jalan Balik Pulau & Jalan Tun Sardon), run by second-generation Tan Choon Teong - his father was the original cook in the 1970s.
#3 Laksa Balik Pulau at the New Market - re-located from the Old Market, first started in the 1970s as well.
#4 Laksa Ayer Itam, Pasar Road, on the wall outside the Ayer Itam market – probably the most well-known assam laksa stall, been operating since 1950s.
#5 Assam Laksa stall at Sin Hwa Coffeeshop, 329 Jalan Burmah (Pulau Tikus) - I liked this spot because they also served deep-fried spring rolls, to be dunked into the laksa soup (!), a peculiar Penang habit which I'd *not* seen anywhere else.
#6 Laksa Ayer Itam at coffee-shop near junction of Jalan Pasar & Jalan Balik Pulau (Ayer Itam end) at the entrance towards Kek Lok Si Temple. The Thai cook for the last 13 years is Pranom Junjai. Has a distinctive Thai-influenced flavors in her Siamese laksa.
BTW, I'd been hearing a lot about the assam laksa at Joo Hooi Coffeeshop, 475 Penang Road, where the best chendol in the world is also located ;-)
Planning to check that out soon - maybe can do that next week when Malaysia shuts down for the Muslim Eid ul-Fitr celebrations.