Today, I am reminded once again that food spotting is a hit or miss thing and that taste in food is, to put it mildly, a highly subjective thing.
I was on my way to check out a famous stall in Taman Century when I passed by this humble looking kopitiam known as Allisan. The tiny shop was packed with customers and the tables on the side walk were also filled.
I was in a dilemma - should I go on my way as planned or should I allow myself to be side tracked to check out a potential new good food find? I let the more adventurous part of my nature got the better of me.
When I went in to check, it was this stall selling kway teow soup and Penang lor mee that was attracting all the customers. All the customers were eating either the kway teow soup or the lor mee.
I decided to give the lor mee a try. The RM4.50 bowl of lor mee came garnished with fish balls, pork balls, fish cake slices, sliced egg, a few lettuce leaves, and cut spring unions. The noodles were bathed in a starchy gravy (lor in Hokkien) and generously topped with fried garlic bits.
Everything about the gravy was slight. It was slightly starchy, slightly salty and had only a slight flavour (which I can't really make out what it was made of).
I normally do not add additional condiments to my food, so that I can better discern the food's natural flavours. This time I felt I had to dump in the whole dish of this sambal chili to boost the somewhat bland taste. Still, it was not enough to lift the slight flavours in the gravy. Still not enough kick.
Observing that people at the other tables added black vinegar to their lor mee, I stretched out my arm to reach for this plastic bottle of vinegar at the next table.
I poured in two large dashes of vinegar and stirred it well into the yellow noodles. The vinegar seemed to work wonders with the gravy and the noodles.
When the gravy is mixed with sambal chili and vinegar, the noodles became much more palatable. The gravy and noodle now tasted slightly sourish and subtly fragrant. The gravy felt smooth and pleasant on the tongue and palate.
The plain noodles were helped along by a few tiny pieces of fresh lean pork.
This factory fish ball tasted rather interesting. I said "factory" because the fish balls came in those typical brine filled plastic bag packaging seen at supermarkets. I saw the stall owner cut open one of such bags with a brand/ label printed on it and used the fish balls straight from the bag.
Nevertheless, this fish ball was flavourful and tasted fresh. When I bit into the fish ball, the skin broke with a gentle pop, and the soft insides just surrendered and melted in my mouth. (It was too bad that I did not note the brand of the fish balls.)
The pork ball was also fresh and flavourful.
Overall, I did not find this lor mee strikingly good. Perhaps I was expecting ngor hiang (fried minced pork roll) and lor bak (braised pork).
But taste is a very subjective thing.
At the next table, the stall lady came over to the family of four to inform them that the stall had just ran out of lor mee gravy. Sold out at 11:15am. There was only enough gravy for two bowls. Two of the family will have to have something else.
The grimace on the father's face tells me that the news had just ruined his seventh day of Chinese New Year.
If you like lor mee, check this stall out for yourself. You might become a fan, though I will not personally vouch for this.
Restaurant name: Stall in Kedai Kopi & Makanan Allisan
Address: Jalan Serigala, Taman Century, Johor Bahru
GPS: 1.485672, 103.761108
Hours: 6:30am to 2:00pm
Date visited: 29 Jan 2012