mews cafe - penang, malaysia
Rating: 8 / 10
To be honest, the proud engravings of NO MSG on a menu, does little to impress me. I am not one of those paranoid androids who shudders at the thought of ingesting Ajinomoto, riddled with the anxieties bestowed on them by a million sceptics. If it tastes good, i'll eat it, I don't care what's in it. Bottom line
Having made my position sufficiently clear, I'll get back to what's important: Laksa.
I crave laksa like some people crave love. I spend an unforgiveable amount of time searching for the perfect bowl, researching and frantically asking random people on the street to point me in the direction of a soul saving experience. More often than not, Mews Cafe kept popping up everytime I searched for "Penang's Best Laksa", and having tried a few others I took it upon myself to suffer the hell of experimentation.
Almost at the point of fainting from the sheer weight of the Malaysian midday sun, I rushed into the shady courtyard and found a table beneath a rather generous leaf. A menu was slid in and a kind "Welcome Sir" added before the waiter rushed back to the AC room. I was tempted to sit inside, but a quick glance at a group of tourists wearing fannypacks made me opt for torment of a different kind.
An ice cold soda with lime quelled the tempest of humidity and awoke a hunger inside that needed satisfying. I ordered the famous "Curry Mee" and cooled my hands on the condensating glass. Chuckles erupted from inside where the occupants looked rather comfortable, but their cheery faces caused a severe moment of ennui from me. I battled the waves of 35 degree heat carried by a frail breeze and sat firm in my obstinate idiocy.
Surefooted, and primed with the greatest smile, the waiter danced on pockets of air, bringing the piping bowl of salvation wafting down to the marble table like a ballerina. The bowl spoke to me with it's fiery eyes. The fat speckles interrupting the delicate foam of coconut broth seasoned with pastes and stock and herbs and floating carnivore treats. A stark green blossoming of mint cascading from atop a tofu-puff dipping it's frightened toes into the warm bath. The curled perfection of moist shrimps headless and destined for my stomach. A fish ball or two bobbing up and down, almost mimicking a bonafide bobber on a fishing line.
With trembling hands I dipped the spoon beneath the amber painting of varying textures, lifted a spoon to my mouth, paused for a split second hoping I wouldn't be disappointed, and swallowed.
Sheer relief of inconceivable proportions. I had found it. The holy grail. After all those tasty but somewhat lacking bowls the previous months; bowls with too thin a broth, too sweet, too much coconut milk, too watery, too this or too that; finally the summit of broth mountain had been reached, and I planted a flag purposefully at the peak proclaiming the completion of my duties.
I had found Georgetown's best Curry Laksa, well, of those I had time to try anyway.
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"