[Food] Hawker Tales part 1

What makes a dish? The ingredients? The recipe? Sure they do, but it is the heart and history that lends it its signature taste. We take a look at the some of the stories behind the signature eats at the Malaysian Food Street.

 

Famous Jalan Alor KL Hokkien Mee

Owner Mdm Helen Lem

At 64, Mdm Helen Lem has met many customers, all with different taste buds and different requests. From local regulars to expatriates and tourists, Mdm Lem knows the fine art of finely altering the sauces she uses to suit their tastes. Having started her noodle stall in 1976, Mdm Lem says that the trick is to use the perfect balance of light soy sauce for saltiness and dark soya sauce for sweetness.

Our take: We love the sweet saltiness of the dish and the bouncy feel of the noodles – called ‘tai lok mee’. Being lazy folks, we also like how the prawns are peeled and ready to eat. In the servings we had, the cabbage could be cooked a little longer and the ‘wok hei’ is slightly lacking. But we think it’s worth the trip over. The dollop of home-made chilli belachan dip is the cherry on top.

 

Petaling Street famous Porridge since 1949

From left: Assistant Lily Lee and owner Vivian Wong

Started in 1949 by Vivian Wong’s grandfather who hailed from Guangzhou, the recipe of the famous Petaling Street porridge is one that has been passed down for 3 generations over 60 years. The secret to the  smooth texture and flavourful spoonfuls lies in the cooking time and the way the porridge is stirred whilst being cooked.  Prior to cooking, the stock is prepared with chicken and pork bones and boiled for three hours before three types of rice grains are added and brought to a boil for another two hours.

Our take: We especially love the raw fish porridge.  The cool, softly chewy texture is the perfect accompaniment to this piping hot bowl. They are generous with the garnishings, soy sauce and sesame oil, which makes every mouthful a delight. If you’re sharing, be prepared to order another bowl – we most certainly did.

 

Heun Kee Claypot Rice

Ray Teoh, son-in-law of founder Mdm Heun May Lan

What makes Heun Kee Claypot Rice so different from most clay pot rice sold here is the cooking method. Rice, marinated chicken, and other ingredients like Chinese sausage called lap cheong are all placed into the clay pot, which is then cooked directly over a charcoal stove. Burning charcoal is also placed on top of the clay pot to lock in moisture and retain the flavours the ingredients. The entire process requires 45 minutes.

At the Kuala Lumpur stall, they have about 13 charcoal pits to cater to demand, selling up to 200 bowls a day.

Our take: Like any other Singaporean, curiosity got the better of us when we saw the beeline in front of the stall. Although we were told that we needed to wait 45 minutes, it’s well worth the wait. The marinated chicken pieces are tender, while the chunks of lap cheong are juicy. Plus, scraping off the bits of burnt rice at the bottom of the claypot is something we never get tired of. If you get impatient while waiting, you can marvel at the blue flames cooking the rice through the observation window.

 

Ah Mei Hokkien Prawn Mee

Owner Mdm Lim Mooi Moey

The ubiquitous prawn mee may seem like simple staple hawker fare to some, but Mdm Lim Mooi Moey will tell you that cooking a good bowl of prawn mee is a tedious affair. After being in business for 26 years, she tells us that the secret lies in boiling the broth with stir-fried crushed prawn shell, pork bones, and ground chili for three hours.  Famous for her specialty, Mdm Lim has been invited to Macau and Singapore for Penang-themed food promotions.

Our take:  Ah, the taste of fresh sweet prawns never fails to make our day. The prawn mee here tastes nothing like those we have in hawker centres and coffee shops. We welcome the generous amount of ingredients and the sprinkle of fried shallots adds a nice fragrance. The thick broth was incredibly yummy too – we slurped it down after devouring the noodles. Yes, every last drop of it.

 

Hungry yet? No? We’ll let some of the first few patrons at the Malaysian Food Street convince you otherwise:

 

 

Don’t forget to make a date with the Malaysian Food Street right here at Resorts World Sentosa!

Check out part 2 of Hawker Tales.

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