Serving up the spicy mee goreng

Picture by K.E. OOi
Picture by K.E. OOi

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GEORGE TOWN, June 29 – The mee goreng is a plate of yellow noodles fried to a level of deliciousness that you will not want to miss when in Malaysia.

Mee goreng, translated to simply mean fried noodles, is occasionally also known as the mee mamak goreng or the Indian mee goreng where the hawker is usually an ethnic Indian and/or an Indian Muslim.

Despite it being sold mostly by ethnic Indians and/or Indian Muslims, the mee goreng did not originate from India and this particular dish can’t be found there.

Mee goreng is a very Malaysianised dish with a list of ingredients that is testament to the rich diverse cultures that influenced the creation of the dish.

It is one dish that is neither Indian, Chinese nor Malay but simply a product of a marriage of all these cultures resulting in something rich, spicy, sweet, sour and decadent.

In Penang, mee goreng is as ubiquitous as the char koay teow and it is a common belief that the mee goreng stalls here sell mee goreng that is absolutely unrivalled.

This could be due to a strong Indian Muslim presence here, particularly since the early days of George Town when they came here to trade.

Unlike the Chinese-style chow mein which is also fried noodles using the same kind of yellow noodles, the mee goreng stands out because of the varied spicy, sweet, sour and salty flavours in one plate.

It may just be a plate of fried noodles but the making of it is almost a science that has been perfected over the years by the hawkers in order to give you a plate of noodles that is a contradiction of flavours which keep you coming back for more.

It is a one-plate meal that consists of slices of fried beancurd, prawn fritters, boiled potatoes, braised squid, eggs, beansprouts and fresh lettuce as garnishing. Of course, no mee goreng is complete without a wedge of lime to balance out the sweetness of its sauces.

There are variations to the types of mee goreng sold at different stalls. Some are a pale beige colour which means it only uses just a little of the tomato-based sauce so it does not have a thick sweet taste but more of a savoury flavour from the mixture of soy sauces.

Then there are the bright orange-y and deep reddish versions of mee goreng. At one glance, you probably expect it to burn a trail down your throat but do not be deceived by the colour. The reddish tint comes from a special blend of sweet potato-based sauce to give it a rich, sweet taste.

These are often called the Mee Sotong (squid noodles) as the noodles will come with a generous serving of braised squids.

Here are the few well-known mee goreng to try out in Penang:

1.  Seng Lee Cafe, Bangkok Lane

GPS: 5.431463,100.312235

Time: 10am-6pm

2.  Hameed Mee Goreng, Medan Selera, Padang Kota Lama

GPS: 5.419949,100.342855

Time: 12pm-4pm

3.  Chuan Foong Coffee Shop, Jalan Chan Siew Teong, Tanjung Bungah

GPS: 5.465918,100.279888

Time: 3pm-5pm

4.  Rahim’s Mee Goreng, Jalan Air Itam

GPS: 5.405498,100.28323

Time: 12pm- 6pm

5.  Mee Goreng Stall, Jalan Kurau, Chai Leng Park, Butterworth

GPS: 5.384482,100.392654

Time: 12pm-5pm

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