Saturday, 14 January 2012

In Search of that Magical Mee Rebus of My Childhood

I sometimes lament to my friends about how much I miss that magical mee rebus of my childhood.

When I was a child, I lived in old Toa Payoh town in 1960s Singapore. Our apartment was on the eighth floor. There was another apartment block right opposite ours, and there was an open green space between the two blocks.

In the afternoons, a pakcik (Malay for uncle) will come to that open space to sell mee rebus.  Pakcik carried two rattan baskets using a bamboo pole slung across his shoulders. One basket contained a small charcoal stove and a pot of boiling water to cook the noodles and bean sprouts. The other basket contained a second charcoal stove and a large pot of gravy for the mee rebus. Pakcik also had space for the yellow noodles, bean sprouts, and garnishing for the mee rebus.

Unlike the Chinese fish ball noodles man who would announce his arrival by tapping a flat strip of bamboo with a stick making a sharp “tick tok” sound, hence the phrase “tick tok mee”, the mee rebus man needed no such noisy device.

We know the mee rebus man is here because it would be announced by the signature aroma from his pot of gravy. The gravy is the soul of mee rebus – the gravy makes or breaks this dish. Everything else are secondary frills.

Yes!! I could catch the waffs of heavenly mee rebus gravy fragrance from the eighth floor of the apartment block. Since that time, I have not been able to get another chance to savour such a beautiful 古早 aroma.

Nowadays, as I lamented to my friends, I could not even get a whiff of any aroma of mee rebus gravy even when it is right under my nose L

After decades of futile searching, I have given up hope of ever finding it in Singapore.

Now, I pinned my hopes on Johor. Will I find that magical mee rebus of my childhood in Johor?

Mee rebus @ Restoran ZZ Sup Tulang

The renowned mee rebus tulang at Restoran ZZ Sup Tulang in Jalan Petri, Johor Bahru is served with its signature lamb shank bone (tulang). But no, its gravy is not near that of that magical mee rebus of my childhood.

Mee rebus @ Kafe Enam Puluhan

The famous mee rebus of Kafe Enam Puluhan in Jalan Ibrahim Sultan, Johor Bahru is served with toppings of crispy crackles. Its main draw is eating mee rebus while enjoying the view of the Straits of Johor and taking in the sea breeze. But no, the sea breeze does not carry any of that magical fragrance of that mee rebus of my childhood.

Mee rebus Stulang

The mee rebus at Mee Rebus Stulang in Medan Selera Larkin is served with two fried prawns and pieces of fried oyster mushrooms. The prawn and mushroom are fresh and well prepared making them interesting additions to the traditional dish. The gravy is thick and bland, and does not have that taste or aroma that I am searching for.

Hj Wahid mee rebus @ 89, Jalan Kris, Taman Sri Tebrau, JB

Hj Wahid mee rebus @ Larkin Bus and Taxi Terminal, JB

Mee rebus @ Haji Wahid's in Plaza Angsana, Tampoi, JB

Haji Wahid’s mee rebus is a legend in Johor since 1918. Now run by the 3rd generation, Haji Wahid's is as close to that magical mee rebus of the past as I could get nowadays. Haji Wahid’s has that dried shrimp flavour and the nuttiness of ground peanuts in the thick gravy. Still, the fragrance of the gravy is only fleeting and not as pervasive and persistent as that of old time mee rebus.

I wonder if that magical mee rebus gravy fragrance is nothing more than just the creation of my over romanticised memory of my blissful childhood. No much school pressure then, so we had plenty of time to dream and explore J

I will continue searching for that elusive olfactory pleasure.

Perhaps, you can give me a lead on where this treasure might be found.


  1. The mee rebus stulang that you ate is at Plaza Larkin. I have to say most foods there taste even beyond the average. Why don't you try the Original Mee Rebus stulang at Stulang Laut itself? Many old generation people said it reminded them of the ancient Mee Rebus they've tasted before. Good Luck!

    1. Do you mean the one at Cafe Enampuluhan?

  2. I don't own a vehicle. I wonder besides Larkin terminal & the food court at plaza kotaraya, where else near customs got sell mee rebus.

    It seems very hard to find mee rebus within walking distance from jb sentral area other than the meldum night hawkers(got a mee rebus stall there).

    Besides mee rebus, i don't find mee siam as well.

  3. i've one you might want to try...PM me ...

  4. Try out the mee rebus at the foodcourt in Southerncity (GIANT EXTRA) near taman Suria...and hope u find that magic taste of yours.

  5. You can try now at ICA building at Lavender Café 7 is the name of the stall.


I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is the same as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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