Satisfying wantan mee well worth the wait in Pudu

Tow inherited the stall and coffeeshop from his father and is still involved in food preparation.

IN THE Pudu district of Kuala Lumpur, there is a kopitiam that is known for its wantan noodles.

Regulars at Restoran Good Friend know to expect a wait of up to 40 minutes.

Finding the place can be a challenge as there is barely any outdoor signage at the shop with green awning (look out for the three-storey orange building).

There are only a few tables inside the corner-lot shop, so sharing dining space with strangers is common.

Catering to the working-class neighbourhood where printing presses abound, the coffeeshop is better known as “Kei Suk Wantan Meen” (Uncle Kei’s wantan noodles).

The moniker refers to Uncle Kei (actual name Tow), who started the stall some 60 years ago.

Although the senior Tow has passed the reins to his son, the name has stuck and old-timers from the neighbourhood still ask about him when they dine at the coffeeshop.

The noodles can also be enjoyed with prawn-and-minced-pork dumplingsThe noodles can also be enjoyed with prawn-and-minced-pork dumplings

A long-time customer, who has been patronising the stall for 40 years, said there used to be long lines at Kei Suk Wantan Meen’s previous location (also in Pudu) before Uncle Kei moved to this coffeeshop some 11 years ago.

He said the octogenarian founder had been preparing his signature noodle dish up until the start of the movement control order in March 2020.

Currently, Uncle Kei’s son and daughter-in-law run the business.

Back when his father used to prepare the noodles, the younger Tow was in charge of barbecuing the char siu (barbecued pork) and continues to do so even though he now helms the business.

“He has been doing this for some 30 years and is now in his 50s,” said his wife, who self-deprecatingly added that she’s “just an employee” while referring to her husband as “the boss”.

She even implored me not to feature the coffeeshop, saying it was enough to just tell my friends if I enjoyed the food.

The wantan noodles’ char siu slices are perfectly charred and tender.The wantan noodles’ char siu slices are perfectly charred and tender.

While her husband primarily handles the food preparation, she manages orders, functions as the cashier and also deftly makes the wantan dumplings that accompany the noodles.

During my initial weekday visit around 11am, the shop was empty except for the tai chow (made-to-order dishes) operator who would start at noon.

I set out earlier the next morning, and thankfully did not have to wait 40 minutes for my order even though the tables were full and takeaway orders were coming in.

Customers either order the noodles in a soup with dumplings or have the noodles tossed in a combination of soy sauces and barbecued meat drippings, garnished with char siu slices, chopped spring onions and blanched leafy greens.

The noodles are available in small, medium or large portions.

Both versions are topped with minced pork.

Since the business owner makes his own char siu just outside the coffeeshop, I made a point to order the dry version and was not disappointed.

I barely waited more than a few minutes for my food after placing the order.

When it was served, I was fixated on the meat’s beautiful colour gradation, from a brownish red on the outside to a slight pink on the inside.

The stall operator’s wife deftly makes wantan dumplings in addition to managing food orders.The stall operator’s wife deftly makes wantan dumplings in addition to managing food orders.

Taste-wise, the barbecued pork was perfectly charred and tender; I savoured each mouthful with the al dente noodles.

I also greatly appreciated the flavour of the lean cut meat because the marinade wasn’t excessively sweet, which is often the case for char siu.

In general, I don’t usually feel satiated after a plate of wantan noodles.

As this was my first visit to this eatery, I bulked up my order with an addition of siu kow (large dumplings).

But it turned out that the portion here is quite generous and I struggled to finish the add-ons.

The prawn-and-minced-pork siu kow were also very tasty and contained crisp water chestnut slices for additional texture.

The verdict — very satisfying.

I can see why there is such a loyal following for Kei Suk’s wantan noodles.

According to the aforementioned long-time customer, the food served here has always been cheap, tasty and worth the wait.

When asked if there was any significant changes since the generational handover, he said: “Apart from a slight difference in the noodles’ texture, the flavours have remained the same.”

He was soon joined by another elderly customer, as I left them to enjoy their meal.

Restoran Good Friend is located at No.1-1, Jalan Brunei, Pudu, Kuala Lumpur.

Operating hours are from 8am to noon (or until it sells out), Mondays to Saturdays.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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Coffeeshop Talk


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