Today the family and I went to Ipoh to do our Chinese New Year rounds and visited all our grandaunties there. My uncle from Penang also drove down to meet us there. Seeing that we hardly return to Penang these days, he took the liberty of bringing some of Penang to us. My favourites - assam laksa, chee cheong fun and 'kelinga' mee (indian mee).

Of course, our before we even got to it, we started the day off by having breakfast at Bidor, a small town about 45 minutes south of Ipoh which is famous for it's duck noodles. The shop is Pun Chun and it's on Jalan Besar (the main road). As I already had the noodles 3 weekends ago on the way to Pangkor Laut (post #36) I decided to go for the plain kwan lo char-siew wanton mee (dry noodles with wonton and roast pork). My parents and Uncle J, who hadn't been to the shop in over 20 years also ordered the same dish and they loved it - the noodles was homemade, handmade and kinda curly-wurly and the wanton fillings were generous in portion with minced pork and prawns. They also liked the woo kok (yam filled with minced pork) and siew pow (baked pork buns). For dessert, we could not resist when I spied kai tan kow (simple baked egg cakes) at the bottom of the display and it was absolutely delicious - light and moist.

I digress from the title. Will save the lunch review for another post.

Had the assam laksa, which is one of my favourite Penang hawker dishes of all time. Looked at mom and asked her, "Where do you think Uncle R got this from? It's definitely not from my favourite shop at Pulau Tikus."

Mom:Well, I think he would have got it there ... no, wait, they don't start business till later and seeing he would have bought this at like 9am-ish, it's probably some other shop.
Me: I knew it!
Mom: What's wrong with it?
Me: The soup is like a bit raw - not enough of something ... (I proceed to add some ha kow (shrimp paste) to it). That's better but I can still taste the rawness of the chillies .. like a young Chardonnay ...needs more time to mature ..
Mom: You are comparing assam laksa to wine?
Me: Yup! The laksa at the corner Pulau Tikus shop .. the body of the soup is to strong, too much of all the ingredients and boiled for too long. The one near Grandaunty #7's place is too light, not enough body and tastes almost watered down. The one from the Black's wife is perfect - just the right amount of herbs and fish, etc boiled with the right amount of water and not boiled too long so there's no overboiled mush taste and texture yet boiled long enough so that the raw taste of the ingredients like chillies, onions, bunga kantan are all blended really nicely ... like the Blue Pyrenees Estate 1997 Red!!
Mom: You're so weird!

Well, I don't know how else to compare the different tastes and textures of the assam laksa soup. Some are really thick, almost like a stew and if it's overboiled there's that burnt after taste. Some are really light and watery. Then the taste varies - to sour, not sour enough, too sweet, not sweet enough, too much prawn paste, too little bunga kantan, etc .. the list goes on and on ...!!

So, tell me what you think? What other analogies could I use to compare and contrast assam laksa soups? and while on the same strain .. curry laksa soups too!!

0 Responses