Having spent the best part of a month feasting on every place I could find raved about in Georgetown, I had delayed visiting Mews Cafe just out of sheer stubborness. I had walked past a few times and seen the fanny-pack tourists sitting there lost in idle conversation and decided it wasn't my kind of restaurants. One scorchingly hot afternoon I took shelter beneath a shady leaf and ordered their famous Laksa since it was so highly praised online.
It was stunning. Truly one of the best curry laksa you'll find in Georgetown. Whatever their family recipe is, they should guard it fiercely because this is a winner.
Unabashed masters of their Xiaolongbao soup dumplings, the veritable church of dumplings also do a pretty decent beef noodle soup. Not quite to the standard of your regular Taiwanese street-stalls, aiming for that slightly prissier crowd of insta-gourmands, what it lacks for in rustic charm it makes up in consistency.
"Never too far from a satisfying bowl" should be their advertising slogan, and it wouldn't be a lie either.
Smack bang in the middle of a South Indian cluster of divine proportions stands this trendy Nyonya eatery. Replete with the token naked brick walls, a hipster bicycle by the entrance, signage done with tongue-in-cheek forethought, and a clinically clean appearance, I had doubts about how the food would venture.
This was a very decent Laksa. Definitely nowhere near the top tier of KL's offerings, but decent. My main gripe would have been the choice of noodles. They were oddly uncomfortable to eat. Broth and accompaniments all held their own, but the noodles dragged all things beneath the murky surface.
In the world of epic ramen, this spot ranks up there. Chicken ramen with the spiciest sting, toothsome noodles, amazing egg and nice sliced chicken that almost tasted of pork. Hit up this spot in BB if you ever need to be found in that area of town.
The wonderful thing about Asia is that it constantly surprises you. In Europe most people wouldn't be caught dead eating at a shopping mall, but in Asia you can find some of the best food there. Nyonya Tingkat is no exception. Spectacularly rich and spicy curry laksa with everything on point.
You'd be hard pushed to find more delicious laksa anywhere in KL
I crave Pho weekly, and despite being in the cradle of all things delicious, I had to venture out and try this spot.
Generally dismissive of shopping malls, based on a pure hatred for my fellow man, I avoid them like the plague. However, Asia has a habit of placing the best restaurants in Air Conditioned malls or food courts, so I have to bite my tongue, don my sunglasses and squeeze through the throngs of happy shoppers.
This ended up being a satisfactory bowl, but nothing more. Everything tasted fine, but the broth was sweet and lacking in depth. It made me wish I had just stuck with local food since the options were so astoundingly varied.
KL really is too hot these days. Unnervingly so. Within a second of leaving protective shelter, you are microwaved to the bone with increasing attacks of solar spite. Streets are decimated of life, no shadows seen since everyone crawls in shady spots. The odd lady under an umbrella adds a burst of colour to an otherwise washed palette.
I needed noodles + soup. The weather was annoying me, so my medication was called for in the shape of a vessel filled to the brim with broth. The 300 meters to Peters Pork Noodles felt like the Dakar Rally, shoes blistering on sulphurous pavements. In these parts wind only adds to the misery, like a thousand hot hair dryers peeling the skin off your face.
For once, food was not a comforting embrace. In true style, the food court was packed, therefore heightening the heat levels. The pork was dry as a bone, the soup was fairly ok but inanely un-complex, the egg was an egg, there's not really much more elaboration available.
If the great lord satan actually existed and wasn't just a made-up character to stop teenagers fiddling around, this would be his bed pan. Recalling scenes from Salo 120 days of Sodom, where the entire gathering feasted on yesterdays digested lunch, this comes pretty damn close to what I imagine they (in an artistic sense) had to go through.
Rank, unspeakably rotten-fish tasting broth that looked like mud had committed suicide in a fishes stomach and the fish subsequently got diarrhea and expelled it all out, somehow coaxing a boiled egg to shed half of it's skin and float above the defecation bleating for a rescue team. What they expect the small sliver of lime to do to this monstrosity is beyond me.
Inherantly evil, without any redeeming factors, yet rammed with locals slurping their way to the fires and demons of fable-like dungeons.
I would squeeze through an anaconda's anus, battling my way through it's main cavity until an arm was free, douse myself in gasoline, light a match and sacrifice myself and the guilt-free reptile, rather than ever touch this again.
Penang has Laksa and Curry Mee spots galore, but what I found severely lacking was a solid bowl of Ramen. I tried a couple places with no luck, and was on the verge of giving up when the fight to live returned. I commandeered a cab, hurtled north, walked around the block a few times waiting for it to open, was told by the waitress "It's salty so if you want it less salty order with extra broth". I reassured her it was ok. I was right. This was top notch ramen. Everything, except perhaps the slightly dry-chewy pork, was on point.
You could easily find worse ramen than this in Tokyo, or anywhere in Japan for that matter. This is well made, and well balanced and bloody delicious.
Such an experience I had to write an entire blog post about it.
Anthony Bourdain first turned me onto this spot by his reaction to the first spoonful. Mark Wiens headed here also and seemed enraptured by the flavours. I had to make a pilgrimage, and am happy I did, but won't be repeating it any time soon.
In short, the broth was unnervingly fishy... that pungent intense fishiness that pushes dishes over the edge for my liking. However, after forcing myself to eat a large portion of it I ended up changing my mind slightly. I'll never eat it again, but it was worth the experience.
Penang is not a town I planned on eating ramen in, simply for the fact that they have so much delicious food here other than that. However, after 3 weeks I started getting tiny creepings of cravings. I researched and found out Rising Ramen and another spot that was 10 kilometers away, were the go-to spots here.
I hurried into my Grab, found Rising Ramen in a shopping mall, ordered their Tonkotsu Ramen and sat watching the workers all glued to their phones... what a world we live in.
Lets get this out of the way. There are two things I hate in a bowl of ramen, one is FUCKING CORN, the other is pork that's been torched before serving. Ok, so your chef thinks it looks sexy with the black spattering of burn marks? Well, it tastes like shit. It's not pleasant to eat pork with a lingering taste of butane, it takes away the luxury of well made pork.
Of all the meals I have eaten in Penang this will go down as a disappointment. Not necessarily a terrible bowl of ramen, but just lacking those touches that elevate it to great. The broth was alright, but lacked umami. The egg was fine but had no marinade so was largely tasteless, the noodles at least were cooked well so they retained some integrity, but the pork... oh dear..
I think i'll just stick to Laksa since i'm in the land that perfected it.
You find gems in the most unnassuming spots. A tiny cafe specialising in pastries and coffee, who'd a thunk they did the best Taiwanese Beef Noodle soup in town? A recipe passed down from the owners mother, this soup battled against even the best over the ocean in Taiwan. Superbly dark and rich broth, tender as tears beef, decent noodles and crunchy greens served with a smile.
I'm telling you, if I lived in Penang i'd be here once a week.
Famous for both their white curry mee (before you tarnish it with chilli paste) and their chicken, it's highly advisable to order both if you make it out here.
Sensational curry mee with a delicious broth elevated even higher by their home-made chilli oil.
A small hole in the wall spot that serves pretty decent beef pho. Bonus points for being walking distance to Ome by Spacebar so you can get yourself a real coffee after. Tender beef, good beef balls, solid noodles, above average broth: what more do you need?
If there was an award for the sweetest owner/host in Penang, it would surely go to the lady here. Everyone is welcomed in a really kind, considerate way, her manner is so gentle and friendly, and luckily enough for us the food is also really good.
They do a couple of different Laksa, I only managed to try the Lemak Laksa because of other obligations, but it was delicious and slightly different to the Asam Bowls i've eaten in town. The prawn crisp was dynamite!!
Located around the corner from Penang Road Famous Laksa and Rabbit Hole Cafe, this non-descript place is partly concealed by large shutters. Peer inside, dare to walk in, be welcomed by a very friendly owner, and served with a delicious bowl of Curry Mee. Everything was on point here, tho I thought the broth lacked a little bit of depth.
Yet another "legendary" place in Penang, I had to visit the old lady who's been churning out bowls for decades.
The food is delicious, it takes a few sips to get used to the intense flavour, but when you do you'll be addicted.
Not technically a broth-laden bounty of goodness, but noodles-egg-meat -spring onions is enough in my book.
Wrestling with an insane line of locals gathering at their watering-hole, I stood patiently until it was my turn, ordered the spicy version and sat down to feast. Truly truly exceptional. This had a severe chilli kick to it that I adored, the noodles were "al dente" and the mixture with the broken egg yolk was rich, flavoursome and luxurious. I can see why the locals slurp this up.
The promise of Malaysian-ramen wafted through the computer screen. Pan Mee? With bacon? And egg? Sign me up. I followed the grab driver all the way to this small shopfront, walked in, people turned and looked at me in that odd "what the hell is he doing here" way, ordered, sat down and sipped on my ice-coffee.
Of all the bowls of late this wasn't the best, or the worst. The broth was decent, but definitely encouraged greater respect after dumping some chilli paste in. The noodles were pretty standard, the "bacon" was a salty addition and the egg held a deep Chinese spice marinade which was quite delicious.
Overall not a meal that you should smash down the doors to enjoy, but definitely worth trying if you have the time and stomach space.
Physically hindered by a buggered ankle, I spent a couple days longer than planned in Ipoh. As soon as it was on the mend I booked a bus ticket to the small town of Taiping, barely an hour away. Due diligence lead me to the 7 Villages Noodle House to try their famous Kuay Tiao.
It was raining (duh!), so I caught a cab. Settled in at the front outdoor section where I could watch the rain dropping like plump drunk flies. A super bowl of noodle soup was placed down before me. To my utter joy they had a delicous ginger-chili sauce on the table to kick things up a notch. This was a cross between a beef noodle soup and a chicken Pho, slippery noodles, consomme style clear broth, fish balls and a few chunks of shredded chicken thrown in for shits and giggles.
With belly full and smile intact (temporarily) I walked out into the rain and waited for my return cab under the sky instead of shelter.
My feet are a venerable fuck-fest when it comes to problems with my achilles, soles of the feet, arches, anything that goes really. It's been a real bone of contention (pun intended) for quite a few years now, and sometimes leaves me almost immobile which is fine if you have someone to fend for you, but quite problematic when you travel alone. Today the ankle struck!
I managed to hobble down the stairs at the hotel, slide into a taxi, head to a cafe to quell the caffeine pangs. Then set about searching for food within immediate vicinity. Lo and behold! A ramen spot, 25 meters away! I had to do it, for medical reasons.
Mad Ramen was visited, a bowl of black garlic tonkotsu broth ordered, green tea swilled, locale peered at. Bowl came, photos were taken, spoons dipped in, smiles returned to faces, pain momentarily forgotten, and the dance of the firm noodles took centre stage for a few hushed moments.
It's not every day I have a smoked duck ramen. Sitting alone in my hotel room in Ipoh feeling listless and full of regret, I scoured the internet for places to eat. This popped up on quite a few blogs with glowing reviews. 4.5 km away? Grab taxi! No problem. I managed to get there just before closing so I could eat in complete solitude, extra point already!
The noodles were soba, but solid. The broth was delicious and deep. The duck was pink and wonderfully smoked. The egg was quite good.
I am honestly shocked to find such high quality ramen in a small city in Malaysia, but as the past has taught me... discount nowhere or no-one!
The eternal search for perfection means you have to take a few for the team. Today, thankfully, was not one of those days.
I despise shopping malls more than then idea of hell or purgatory. In fact, if either of those concepts existed they probably are shopping malls with no exits. Today I was forced into Pavillion with it's rows of designer goods, horny shoppers gushing at the sight of a handbag, husbands dragged along swearing under their breaths at the potential carnage their mastercard will endure, kids screaming and protesting on escalators turning the entire cathedral of shit into a ringing tinnitus dagger. Thankfully there were no kids at the ramen spot.
I dug in my heels and ordered their signature bowl (with an egg). Shio Ramen is not something I order too frequently, but if its done right it can be delicious. This bowl was a touch on the bland side, though the pork, noodles and egg were all spot on. It was one of those experiences where the more you eat the more bored your palate gets instead of continuing to want to attack from different angles.
I paid and left, and hurried to the exit, and spilled out on open streets with more families with more screaming kids and idiots on their cellphone heading straight for collisions unless YOU move out of the way..... the future of the world is over. We are doomed.
Battling against the sweltering heat, pearls of sweat peeling off tanning skin, walking down dark alleyways until Madras Lane opens up like an oasis offering treats for the soul. Find the stall with the green bowls, order a curry laksa, pay the old lady grinning soul, occupy a chair of further intense heatspots, try to remain conscious whilst slurping down delicious broth and noodles and cockles and beans and all sorts of other hidden goodnesses. Wipe away sweat collecting above brow, replace sunglasses in victory proclamation, push plastic stool back into previous position, walk out into furnace and pray the AC was left on in the hotel room, buy a can of cold coffee and press it against your veins in a form of cooling repentance.
Gargantuan hopes of another ramen gem are chased with gusto. Grab Taxi's summoned, whisked off past blurred architecture, vapid skies bereft of rain, transcendental bowing trees. Ramen bowl purchased, interiors examined with judgemental eyes, broth sipped, spoon reset, noodles tamed and tempered, pork attacked with incisors but hastily dropped back into murky pond of tasteless soup. Disappointment. Utter wreckless display of japanese engineering. Sadness becomes me. I flitter off into regret.
The quest to find a decent bowl of ramen in every country on earth.