IT IS no secret that there is an art to cooking a scrumptious serving of mee goreng mamak.
The backbone to a perfect plate of this favourite Malaysian delicacy is the wok, seasoned with oil and heated to just the right temperature to achieve the right balance of wok hei (Cantonese for cooking over high heat).
The term mamak comes from the word “mama” which means “uncle” in Tamil and it is a term of endearment when referring to Indian Muslims, particularly cooks dishing out South Indian food at 24-hour eateries that all Malaysians have come to hold dear to their hearts.
Mee goreng mamak is the “other char kuey teow”, and the cook slaving over the stove carries the important job of getting the chemistry right in marrying ingredients like the aromatics (garlic, shallots and chilli paste), dark sauce mixture (light and dark soy sauce and vinegar) and the essential noodles, vegetables, prawn stock and fritters for texture. Seafood and meat are the extras.
It is not only mamak eateries that serve mee goreng, but restaurants have for a long time included mee goreng mamak (which understandably costs more) in their menus to offer customers this crowd-favourite in a more comfortable environment.
Be it for brunch, tea, dinner or supper, below are my top five picks for satisfying mee goreng mamak from the cheapest to the pricier options.
RESTORAN PASEMBOR HUSSIN, 75, Jalan USJ21/10, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Business hours: 8am to 8pm, daily.
The USJ township has a few well-recommended places to have good mee goreng mamak, and this is one of them.
It comes in a sizeable portion for RM5.50, along with a good amount of textural ingredients such as fritters, fried tofu, sawi (mustard greens) and beansprouts.
You can also choose to have chicken with your fried noodles.
The mee goreng here is slightly different from the rest that I have tasted, because there is a hint of curry flavour in the noodles, which is not a bad thing and made it interesting.
Finding parking space though, can be a challenge in this commercial area, especially during peak hours. Make sure to get your parking coupons or download the Smart Selangor Parking mobile app as MPSJ enforcement officers make regular rounds here.
BANGKOK LANE MEE GORENG, Restoran Ehsan Maju, 21, Jalan USJ2/2c, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Business hours: 10am to 9pm, daily except Monday.
As a Penangite, I jumped at the opportunity to sample this highly recommended stall in USJ2, which is a branch of the famous Penang Bangkok Lane mee goreng.
It is helmed by Bashir Ameen, a third generation cook whose grandfather started the original stall in Seng Lee coffeeshop along Jalan Burma, Penang.
Bashir’s uncle used to run that stall but he has since retired and now it is managed by his cousin Sabik Mahoob.
There is another stall in USJ4 which is run by Bashir’s father, and one more in Sri Petaling.
In terms of taste and cost factor, this would be my favourite as the plain mee goreng here is only RM5.50. However, the price goes up once you add meat into the mix — Mee Goreng Daging (beef) is RM10, Mee Goreng Ayam is RM9.50 and Mee Goreng Sotong is RM8.50.
As I love my chillies, I asked Bashir to increase the spiciness and I thoroughly enjoyed the noodles with its good balance of all the flavours you want in mee goreng.
If you are coming for lunch, it is better to arrive at about noon to avoid the crowd and there is ample parking then.
Bashir also does catering for up to 500 people.
COBRA CLUB, Lorong Utara B, Section 52, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Business hours: 3pm to 12.30am, daily.
This neighbourhood watering hole is literally up my alley. For years, I passed by this place and one day I was hankering for mee goreng for dinner. Lo and behold, they had it on the menu.
The mee goreng here is priced at RM10.90, but it is justified because it contains a good amount of fritters, vegetables and a bonus — fried egg.
As a small eater, I find the portion can easily feed two people. If you dine in, and considering this is a bar, you can enjoy your plate of spicy noodles with non-alcoholic beverages or alcoholic drinks while watching the sports channel.
There is parking along the Astaka field nearby.
SOULED OUT KUALA LUMPUR, 20, Jalan 30/70A, Desa Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. Business Hours: Noon to 3pm and 5pm until late (Monday to Friday); 5pm until late on Saturday and noon until late on Sunday.
The name is an institution in Kuala Lumpur’s food-and-beverage scene and known for its good servings of Asian food at its various branches.
Along with char kuey teow and other fried noodles in the menu, the mee goreng at Souled Out in Desa Sri Hartamas is worth having even at RM18 a plate.
Each plate here is chock-full of shrimp, chicken, tofu and vegetables, so you are getting your money’s worth.
The noodles are mildly spicy, but you can get extra oomph from the accompanying portion of cili padi.
Overall, I like the flavour in the noodles and the char that comes with it. Anyone familiar with Desa Sri Hartamas knows parking space is a commodity here, so it is better if you go during non-peak hours.
There is also a privately managed parking lot just in front of the restaurant.
SAM’S, 25-G, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. Business hours: 4pm to 2am, daily.
Not far from Sri Hartamas is another friendly neighbourhood restaurant called Sam’s in the affluent area of Damansara Heights, and it has been around since 2011.
The mee goreng came highly recommended although priced at RM20. Again, you will not be disappointed as it is cooked well with all the usual ingredients.
The cook does a good job with the noodles as the flavours are balanced with mildly spicy heat.
Sam’s does receive its fair share of regular customers, especially during dinner.
There is ample parking along the street facing the front and back of Plaza Damansara.