Today, I had a great day with my friend Jo-Hann who showed me the food he grew up with in Taman Perling.
We had red rice wine mee suah, wanton mee and shrimp dumplings, the most popular items in Restoran Lima Ratus.
Restoran Lima Ratus is a humble shop in Taman Perling run by MR Low and his wife with an elderly helper. And, MR Low had been a noodle seller since the Japanese Occupation in the 1930s, when he was in his early teens.
Sometimes, MR Low's youngest son helps out at the shop after school. I was told that the boy is already a flying wanton mee maestro. I want to catch him in full flight action soon :))
Ah..... red rice wine mee suah, that quintessential Foochow comfort food.
The boss, MR Low, who is over 70 years old is Foochow and had learnt how to make this classic Foochow red rice wine mee suah from his mum. Talk about old school!
The slender mee suah was smooth and soft yet still retaining a slight bounciness. The mee suah sponged up the vinegar tangy, savoury and slightly alcoholic red rice wine very well. This was so delicious! I am so grateful to Jo-Hann for bringing me to MR Low's shop for this.
The reddish coloured pieces of tender fresh chicken served with the mee suah were well infused with the distinctive flavours of the red rice wine.
The red rice wine broth was tangy, sweet, savoury, and loaded with ground and chopped ingredients like onions. With such a complex blend of flavours, it is little wonder that red rice wine mee suah is the favourite of many people. Though a tad oily, the broth was so delicious that I slurped it all up noisily.
MR Low's homemade egg noodles were also very popular.
I was thrilled to hear that MR Low's self made egg noodles were made with duck eggs - something seldom done nowadays as almost all wanton mee are made with more easily available chicken eggs.
We had this mee pok and the mee kia. The noodles were crunchy al dente. MR Low's duck egg noodles were also firmer than the usual chicken egg noodles.
The mee kia and mee pok after a good stirring of the sauce. The sauce was quite subtle and delicate, and unobtrusively complemented the noodles, which were the star of the dish. I was so enthralled with the noodles and engaged in conversation with MR Low that I forgot to pay too much attention to the sauce. Foodies who prefer their noodles to have more sauce, please remember to let MR Low know.
Like the sauce, neither did I busy myself with the char siew, though I did remember that they were pretty tasty.
The wantons and shrimp dumplings were freshly handmade at the shop.
The shrimp dumplings were slurpingly soft and slinky smooth. They could literally slide down one's throat.
The shrimps inside were fresh and had a bouncy bite. The chopped chestnuts in the dumplings added to the dumplings' crunchiness.
The wantons had the same smooth skin as the shrimp dumplings. The meat were packed quite tight though the wantons were still tender to the bite and had that pleasant sesame aroma.
MR Low is famous for his red rice wine mee suah 红糟鸡面线 and wanton mee. Not many people know that MR Low has a talent for mimicking bird song. MR Low mastered his talent since his teens and has been entertaining his friends and customers. Click on the picture to watch MR Low perform his bird song.
For those who are interested, Lima Ratus is one of those shops in JB that Singapore Media Corp artistes sometimes patronise incognito.
MR Low's shop, is in the back row and had a sun bleached signboard, so it is rather inconspicuous. It is best to study the Google map and set your GPS before setting off for Restoran Lima Ratus.
Restaurant name: Restoran Lima Ratus
Address: 4, Jalan Undan 18, Taman Perling, Johor Bahru
Hours: 7:00am to 3:00pm (Closed on Weds)
Date visited: 29 Jan 2013