Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wan Tan Mee

I've loved wan-tan-mee as far back as I could remember. I probably got hooked when I was about six, living in Baling. This was such a small town that there was no children playground or public library. It had a hospital, a cinema, 2 main streets, a post office, a police station, several schools, a Bank Rakyat branch, a wet market.
And the wan-tan-mee stall was along the lane leading to the wet market. The stall was on the right, while another stall that sells fried noodles, sar hor fun and was right across from it. We'd go to the wan-tan-mee stall for breakfast some weekends, and the sar hor fun one on evenings once in while as treats.
Wan tan mee those days in Kedah and Penang was of the tough, stringy yellow noodle-kind. So tough that I've almost choked many times when I've bitten more than I could chew. Yet I loved it. The challenge to eat the noodles gets me going. So in love was I with the noodles that I would save and save for a bowl. This was in Kuala Ketil, ah kong's place. There was a push-cart stall just across the road, in that little lane next to the dark-wood shop that sells all kinds of junk food for kids. The stall sells the perfect wan-tan mee, in the opinion of a scrawny six-year-old with limited exposure to culinary treats. So, there I was, saving every 10 sen ah kong and ah ma gave me for my own bowl of noodles. One time, after having saved 60 sen or 80 sen, I celebrated by asking Pa to order me a bowl. Pa left the money under a ceramic 'cockerel' bowl on the front table of ah kong's coffee shop. When the noodles arrived, we flipped the bowl to find the money gone. I was traumatised. That's how that memory stayed with me till now. Well, Pa forked out the money for that bowl of noodles. No longer remember how it tasted like but to me, wan tan mee from that Kuala Ketil pushcart stall will never be surpassed by any other!

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