WAKING UP early in the morning just to head out for breakfast is not something I fancy doing.
Generally, my morning meal comprises a slice of toast with butter and jam or cereal with cold milk.
My father, however, is the complete opposite. He often visits the various coffeeshops near our housing area for anything from chee cheong fun to a bowl of piping hot wantan mee. He also often “spoils” my breakfast routine by bringing home a morning meal or two from his outings, to tempt my taste buds.
So, when I mentioned that I would be venturing out, one morning, to try Penang curry mee he surprised me by saying, curry in the morning was just too much for him.
It took several failed attempts of trying to wake up early enough to head to this much talked about curry mee stall.
It was only on my third visit to the stall that I got a chance to savour the curry mee.
On the first attempt, I was not able to get there on time and on the second visit, the hawker had decided to take a day-off.
As they say, third time’s a charm as I made it to the stall at Jalan SS2/10 at 8.15am.
To my amazement the coffeeshop situated at the opposite end of Kayu Nasi Kandar was already filled with patrons, mostly senior citizens who had just completed their morning walk or tai-chi, which was noticable from the similar uniformed T-shirts they wore.
Not many stalls were open for business at that hour, and the few that were operating, were busy.
The curry mee stall, situated at the back of the shop, was in full swing.
I ran in, placed my order in Cantonese, and received an answer in Hokkien as the young man replied that he understood what I wanted.
Finding a place to sit was a challenge but you can always share a table with someone.
I shared a table with two men dressed in suits who had just finished their last spoonful of curry noodles. My bowl arrived in 15 minutes.
The white curry seemed so inviting as it was laden with cockles, tofu pok, cuttlefish, prawns and coagulated pig’s blood, a popular ingredient, if you are a fan of Penang curry noodles.
A spoonful of sambal comes with each bowl, allowing you to mix it with the broth, and letting you take control of the level of spiciness you fancy.
The portion, priced at RM6.50, may seem small but since it was for breakfast, it was alright. Most of the patrons who had requested curry noodles, had also ordered side dishes from other stalls to complement their meal. For a bigger portion, pay an additional 50 sen.
As I was midway into my noodles, a couple came asking if they could sit at the table, after having secured the last two bowls of the dish.
“It is not easy to get to try the noodles, and we have been missing it by a few minutes,” the wife said to me. I shared with them my attempts and the husband said, “We need to be here before he tilts the pot, a sign that curry is running out.”
On Sunday, I returned to Restaurant Okay just to check if the Penang curry mee was really as popular as it was on weekdays.
At 8.30am, orders were already piling up with bowls, twice the amount, from my previous visit. Both father and son were busy cooking and serving as they do not have a helper to assist them.
I went with a friend hoping to treat her to a hearty curry breakfast only to be told by the son, “We are really busy today, if you want a bowl you have to wait for an hour.”
To make matters worse, there were no seats available and I saw so many people waiting patiently for a place to sit.
Minutes later, the pot was tilted and that was the end of the story.
After five years in business, the curry mee sold by this father and son team seems to have caught on with early risers in Petaling Jaya.
Savouring curry mee from Penang is serious business here, and when your friends tell you to get there way before 9am, it is best to heed the advice.