I ♥ Ban Mee. Full. Stop.
If you are Malaysian or Singaporean, then you probably would know what Ban Mee is. Ban Mee, also sometimes known as Min fun Kueh (麵粉粿), is a simple noodle dish usually for breakfast or lunch, and is made from two basic ingredients – plain flour and water. The noodle is commonly served with sweet potato leaf, mushroom, fried anchovies and pork mince.
What makes Ban Mee so special is that the noodle is always handmade – kneaded, pulled and stretched by hands without using machines. The original Ban Mee always comes in hand-stretched rough uneven flat flour pieces in a soup based made from anchovies stock. The hand-stretched noodles is almost like a stamp print for its “homemade” authenticity and originality.
But of course, there is also Ban Mee that made with machine cut noodles. Some people believes the hand-stretched noodles that made to order right there and then has an unhygienic fear factor to it, and prefer the long strands of noodle made by the machines from the factory. I personally prefer the hand-stretched version which has a chewier, firmer texture yet slippery to the tongue. It gives the dish a personality.
During my holiday in Malaysia, I was introduced to other different variations of Ban Mee that I’ve never tried before. The most common variations will be the soup based version and the dry version. The dry version is served on plate which is pre-coated with dark and light soy sauce, and sesame oil that allows you to toss all ingredient together. Some prefers one more than another; but either way I have yet to come across anyone who doesn’t like Ban Mee.
A new heat wave of Ban Mee has become the talk of the town recently. “Let me bring you to try the Chili Ban Mee?” my friend assured me that I will love it and she wasn’t wrong. After a short trip in the car, we found ourselves Super Kitchen restaurant in SS2 Chow Yang, outside a shop with a big yellow sign simply written “CHILLY PAN MEE” on it. Despite the little “Manglish” mishap, it is straight to the point, and what you see is what you are getting.
This restaurant is the 4th franchise outlet, the original one is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and my friend claims that the original restaurant is still the best. We walked through the glass door into an air-conditioned room with simple settings of tables and chairs. The one page laminated menu has only 7 items on it – 4 variations of Ban Mee and 3 side dishes. We know we are here for the Chili Ban Mee, even though I was also tempted to find out what Curry Pan Mee is like, another variety that is new to me.
The Chili Ban Mee soon arrived in a black plastic bowl, an array of different ingredients neatly arranged on the top, and the noodle is mostly hidden underneath. The Chili Ban Mee is accompanied by a bowl of soup to put the fire out, figuratively speaking. It is a sweet anchovies broth with sweet potato leaf and egg floss inside. My first impression is that it looks very similar to a bibimbap. Inside the bowl, there are fried shallot flakes, soy pork mince, crispy fried anchovies, a poached egg and a sprinkle of chopped scallions, but where is the chili?
“This is the bomb,” as my friend reaches out for the little tub of condiment on the table and carefully adds a small spoonful of chili sambal flakes on top of her noodle. I thought this is a smart idea, so we can just add the desire amount of chili according to one’s spicy hot tolerance level. For me, it is always “die hard or go home” and went a little crazy with the sambal chili. I was ready to call the toilet as my second home for many moons to come.
The devilish deep carmine sambal chili flakes are packed with a deadly combination of pounded dried shrimps, fried shallots and dried chilli flakes. It is crunchy with a strong aroma of dried shrimp, then you will be fanning yourself crying for help with your mouth fully coated in chili oil before you know it. Definitely not for the faint hearted. The only one product that I could think of which is pretty close to the chili they used for the Ban Mee is the Tean’s Cripsy Prawn Chili.
A quick toss and soon everything turns a vivid glow of orange. Praise the lord and brace yourself. The thick noodle is nicely coated with chili oil and runny egg yolk which makes it slippery smooth and gradually burning your mouth from inside out. I particular love the occasional crunch of fried anchovies bashfully swimming in the red sea.
I am glad that we also ordered a side of dumpling soup to counteract this inhumane level of hotness. Sweat dews dripping down my forehead, the nose decided to turn the water tap on and started running. Now I am seriously in pain, crying for help. I held my left hand high in mid air, reach out for salvation from the box of tissue on the tiled wall. Praise the Tissue God! Soon I was in chili coma and everything is a blur of numbness.
I love spicy food and I think the Chili Ban Mee is a great new twist to the old recipe. The good thing about Ban Mee is that it is so easy to make and everyone can do it at home! In fact, I already had another dose of Chili Ban Mee over the weekend by using Udon noodle and Tean’s crispy prawn chili. The Udon noodle is a bad choice as it is softer and gooey to the touch. I am sure there will be many more attempts to come until I’ve perfected my own version of Chili Ban Mee.
Super Kitchen Chilly Pan Mee (Batu Road) Jalan PJU5/4, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, 47800 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel : +60361417398