Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Indonesia so far... part 2, noodles

I had an absolute brilliant couple of weeks at my hometown in Medan, North Sumatra. I got to see my parents, slept in my old room, met more extended families, this time from my father's side and I got to play with my dog, Molly. Most importantly, I was reunited with so many delicious dishes in Medan.

Perhaps I've told you this before, but I'll tell you again, Medan is well-known for, one, its dreadful traffic. I am so glad my driving license has expired and I don't have to drive here. It's a thrill I do not want to endure. The second thing Medan is known for is the delicious foods this city has to offer.

I am spoiled for choice. And with so many eating occasions and very minimal exercise, no surprise that I gained weight here. But I'm not gonna worry about that now. I am still on holiday mode.

Rice is THE staple food of Indonesia. No matter where you go, you will find rice. And I do like rice, but if I had to choose my favourite carbohydrate, it's got to be noodles. Be it Chinese, Japanese, Italian or Indonesian, I love noodles. I suppose it's got to do with the slurping sensation which I find very satisfying. So, in this second part of my trip in indonesia, I'm going to share some of the delicious noodles I had here.

Before we go any further, feel free to make yourself a cup of coffee first or grab a light snack because this is gonna be a somewhat long post.

Now, if you're ready, let's begin!

Tiong Sim Noodle
There is just no way for me to visit Medan and not eating Mi Tiong Sim (Tiong Sim Noodle). It is located at Selat Panjang street and my family have been eating here for as long as I can remember. The noodles here are handmade and they are very thin which is a distinct feature of this dish. The cooked and seasoned noodles are topped with Chinese barbecued pork (char siew pork), pork dumplings, shredded chicken, slices of spring onions and crispy shallots. A fragrant pork broth will also be given on the side. Absolutely beautiful.

Kwetiau Mesjid
Another childhood favourite is kwetiau mesjid. Kwetiau means flat rice noodles. And mesjid, meaning mosque, refers to the name of the street where you can find this great dish. Again, we've been coming here for many many years. The dish is very simple and straightforward. There's kwetiau, veg, bean sprouts, duck egg and impeccable seasonings. Served on a plate that's been covered with banana leaf. Another example of some of the greatest things are the simplest.

Kari Bihun Tabona
Next is kari bihun or rice noodles with curry from a place called Tabona at Mangkubumi street. The curry is golden and fragrant and slightly spicy but just enough, to keep you wanting more. And the rice noodles are just the perfect vehicle to soak up all the spices. You can choose between chicken or beef curry here and I recommend both! With the beef curry pictured above, you can also ask for the offals which I love, but it's entirely optional.

Ak Bihun
Another fantastic noodle dish using rice noodles is Ak Bihun (rice noodles with duck). This noodle dish is one of my favourite breakfast item. You think eating duck meat is too rich for breakfast? Well, the duck here is poached so it is not at all fatty. Each bowl is filled with rice noodles, plenty of duck meat, veg, minced crispy garlic, fresh coriander, spring onions, with the broth served on the side.

Noodles with shiitake mushroom - Khek-style noodle

Now that I've mentioned noodles for breakfast, above are another two of fantastic noodle dishes, perfect to start your day or just about anytime in my case. The picture on the left is known as mie jamur or noodles with shiitake mushroom but obviously, there are other delicious ingredients as well which include melt-in-you-mouth pieces of pork, spring onions, crispy shallots and fresh coriander. The one on the right is khek-style noodle with loads of delicious sweet pork and a little heat from ground white pepper and spring onions.

Next on my list of favourite noodle dishes is laksa. Laksa is a sour and spicy noodle soup that is widely popular is Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Depending on where you go to, you might find laksa that has a coconut based broth which is nice, but a little too sweet to my liking. I prefer Medanese laksa, pictured above, that uses tamarind and chilli based broth, and plenty of holy basil, making it lighter and fresher. This particular seafood laksa with sardines uses thicker udon-style noodles which is great for slurping. Yum.

Blitar-style noodle soup - Noodle soup with water spinach
Literally translated, mie sop means noodle soup. Mie sop is one of the most popular street food in Indonesia and there are so many variations, that it is impossible to sum everything up only in one paragraph. But, I'll share with you a couple of examples of sublime noodle soups I had here. The picture on the left is Blitar-style noodle soup from Java (but the vendor is in Medan) with rice noodles, shredded chicken and an extra plate of chicken for me :) And the one on the right is new for me and I can tell it going to be an old favourite soon, mie kangkung. This is so simple but yet incredibly delicious. There's egg noodles, chicken, bean sprouts, water spinach (kangkung) and then... the broth... it's dark, packed with flavour and it is just amazing. So delicious. Just the thought of it makes me salivate.

The eating continues...