The crowds are incredible.
It's 1.00pm on a Friday and there are twenty people in the queue. The line doesn't shorten. No sooner does one person leave the counter--a bowl of steaming noodles held aloft with pride--then more people wander in, patiently joining the immobilised conga line of business workers, shoppers and students.
We've come to Malay Chinese Takeaway for their much celebrated har mee (also known as hokkien mee), a prawn noodle soup that is only available on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
All our fellow diners are enthusiastically embracing their inner noodle (and you can buy your own bib for 30 cents if you think things might get messy). The cacophonous room is packed with people talking and slurping, scraping back chairs or squeezing past your table. In the midst of the chaos stands the snaking queue, the hungry slowly but surely shuffling forward.
Har mee prawn noodle soup $8.50
There's no complaining about the staff efficiency here. The service here is faster than any mass market food chain, fresher too of course, as noodles and accompaniments are tossed in bowls and doused with soup.
I manage to score a table and we huddle around our aromatic bowls of har mee with eager anticipation. We smell, we prod and then we dip our spoons in and take them to our lips.
The taste is incredible.
Mango Man, who is Malaysian by birth, breaks into a wide ecstatic smile at his first sip of soup.
"This is goooooood," he says with audible glee. "This is very good," he reaffirms as his eyes start to glaze over.
The soup is hearty with the taste of genuine stock, a spicy rich affair that is traditionally made with dried shrimps and prawn heads. Thin slices of roast pork are moist and tender, and ribboned with juicy fat. There are peeled prawns sliced in half, wads of fish cake, curls of calamari, and a tangle of kangkung (morning glory or water spinach). These lie atop a thick bed of noodles, a mixture of thin toothsome strands of white meehoon rice vermicelli mixed with fat yellow slippery hokkien noodle.
A half boiled egg bobs in one corner, a generous smear of sambal chilli paste packs some much-relished heat. There are bits of crunchy fried pork crackling, and tendrils of fried red shallots.
It's so very good. We drain every drop.
Malay Chinese Takeaway
Shop 1, 50-58 Hunter Street, Sydney
(near corner of Bligh and Castlereagh Streets)
Tel: +61 (02) 9231 6788
Monday to Friday 11am-7.30pm
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4/03/2007 11:03:00 p.m.